E3 2008: Legendary
Spark Unlimited has a goal of making their FPS Legendary look like a disaster movie. Judging by the chaos and destruction I was shown on the first level alone, they definitely succeeded. Things start off when Deckard, a professional thief, breaks into a museum to steal an artifact for an anonymous client. He inadvertently opens Pandora’s Box and the whole “disaster movie” vibe comes into play. He runs through the museum as everything around him is getting obliterated. Columns crash down and the ceiling is ripped apart by some mystical force. People were screaming and running for their life to escape the museum.
As soon as Deckard opened the box, he was granted special powers called the animus. With his left hand, he can absorb fallen enemies to gain health. His new-found abilities can also be used on the offensive to knock back enemies and open them up for attacks. Of course, he also has the typical arsenal of FPS weapons.
After busting through the museum exit with an axe, Deckard witnesses an awesome sight. Griffins have descended upon New York City, picking up cars in their massive talons and smashing them to the ground. The sense of scale in this memorable scene is truly epic. There are dozens and dozens of destroyed cars and people everywhere. The graphics aren’t technically impressive in the sense of being super smooth and highly polished, but there is a sense of scale that not many games pull off. As Deckard makes his way through the carnage, he encounters a massive golem. These creatures are typically made of its surroundings, such as iron or clay. This thing is made of the debris of cars and buildings. It’s a pissed-off robot of wreckage.
The opening level was undoubtedly linear, but all the boundaries were believable and authentic. Not once did a knee-high pile of debris block Deckard’s movements. After playing some recent games with obnoxious artificial barriers (I’m looking at you, Bourne Conspiracy), this was even more impressive. The boundaries, whether it’s a sky-high golem or a collapsed ceiling, doesn’t just focus the action to the next point. It also adds to the atmosphere because all the action didn’t take place during cutscenes.
Deckard moved from the streets to the subway system. Two people were down there, trying to comprehend exactly what was going on: actual griffins, golems and God knows what else were terrorizing New York City. The thief didn’t spend much time with them. The subway was all messed up and one side of the station was in flames. Another mythical creature made its grand appearance here. The drakes were spawning from the flames. At this point Deckard had a pistol with average stopping power, but the drakes kept spawning from the flames. By moving to the other side of the station, the water could be extinguished by turning a water valve. Problem solved.
A stage much later in the game was also shown. Deckard was now in an old English village overlooking a castle that looks like it might house Dracula himself. His arsenal was upgraded to assault rifles and shotguns. The enemies were ramped up accordingly with werewolves and soldiers from a secret society that intended on unleashing all this evil on the world. Three way battles between Deckard, these soldiers and the mythical creatures are going to play a big part in the game. The A.I. of the soldiers determines whether Deckard or the monsters is the biggest threat and acts accordingly. The hero can sometimes just sit back and see the enemies fight each other, but if he gets too close he might find himself the main target. This added to the epic scope that was evident throughout what I saw in Legendary.
The boss battle of the stage was a Minotaur. Deckard had to act like a matador to take down this horned foe. The Minotaur charges fast and needs to be dodged at exactly the right moment. He runs through walls as if they were made of paper and is quite good at cutting off Deckard’s movements. The beast certainly wasn’t going down easily even after more than a dozen shotgun blasts from close range.
Legendary doesn’t have the flash of the big shooters, but it definitely has intriguing ideas and incredible set pieces. The game is almost complete and ships this fall for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and then on the PC a couple months later. If the same intensity that these two levels showed can be maintained for the duration of this eight to ten hour game, it will certainly make for a good time. If that game length seems short, then the multiplayer mode will add some life. To keep things interesting, A.I. controlled monsters will join the fray against the opposing players.