Untold Legends


Review by Matt Paprocki

Sony Online

Action RPG

Graphics: 8

Sound: 3

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Instead of taking an already established franchise and porting it to the PSP, Sony Online decided to develop a completely original hack and slash adventure for the launch of their new console. A different team than the PS2 "Champions of Norrath" series developed "Untold Legends" and that's likely why it's a little rough around the edges. Still, it's engaging enough for fans of this growing genre, just not enough to draw in a new crowd.

The presentation of the story here is rather dry and flat, filled with text that rounds everything out. It leads up to a nice twist at the end and it will take you some time to get there. Along the way, you'll follow the usual path of whacking evil entities, picking up new weapons, and heading back to town for new missions.

There's very little variety to be had, just four main characters to choose from (you can't even choose whether your character is male of female) and constant jabbing of the X button. There's nothing particularly wrong with that and the genre has thrived on that since the early days of "Diablo." If you're unable to fathom how mashing one button is fun and variety is something you require, than "Untold Legends" is simply not your game.

Those of us who do enjoy mindless violence will have a solid time with the basic gameplay. All of the other small problems are instantly forgotten once into the randomly generated dungeons and the attack from various ogres begins. There are magic attacks to perform (depending on what character class you have chosen) to break things up, but it's hardly necessary.

"Untold Legends" is a simple cakewalk. You'll earn mountains of gold and hardly spend any of it. Monsters drop countless powerful weapons and armor, which you'll either sell or equip. There's almost no purpose to the one (yes, one) merchant in the game. You level up excessively quick and of course your power and health go alongside that. There are numerous options available in the level-up menu, so getting that knight to level 60 can be fun and rewarding.

Boss fights are simply a matter of getting in close enough and wailing away. There's no strategy involved at all. Bringing in some friends for 4-player ad hoc play only makes things easier. In a nice touch, you can take your powered up character through the game again or join in with that same character in a friend's game. This creates rather obvious balance issues, but at least you can get some outside help just in case you really are stuck without much strength or health (highly unlikely). The biggest challenge is whether or not the group can handle the really nasty load times, which can run up to 30 seconds at a time between levels.

Though most of the moves are mapped as normal to the face buttons, there is a large number used in conjunction with the R trigger, including the camera. There are few instances where the camera needs to be moved, but if an enemy is hiding under a canopy and you can't see them to make a hit, struggling with a trigger and the d-pad is not convenient. Your character can only move with the analog nub. Health potions are readily accessible in a bind with the opposite shoulder key.

The world created here looks solid on the handheld. Trees feature fantastic detail and powering up a weapon can produce some nice particle effects. Each dungeon has a nice look that falls in line with the name it has been given. Your characters avatar even changes to reflect a switch in armor, a feature that some console games have lacked in the past. To really appreciate the detail, you can zoom right in with the camera, though that's not particularly smart for gameplay as it impairs your view significantly.

The myriad of small complaints continues with the audio presentation. The music here is nothing short of horrid, sounding like it's coming from an ancient PC game running in DOS. Actually, there is one track that sounds like it came out of "Doom." This is an obvious compromise to save the disc from spinning constantly and save battery life, but that's still not a very good excuse once the audio hits your ears. The sound effects are fine if not standard fare. There's a nice sword clash and clear screams when someone takes that final hit.

While it seems like "Untold Legends" isn't worth playing after discussing all of the flaws, that's not particularly true. Some of the issues are irksome and should have been cleared up before release. However, for whatever reason, you can't put this one down. Whether it's the relative simplicity of the combat, leveling up, or getting together to wage the war with friends, the game has enough to keep you going all the way through. If you need something long and involving for your new portable, "Untold Legends" has you covered.


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Last updated: Sunday, May 01, 2005 02:15 PM