EIEIO 08: Hands-on with Legendary

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What stands out more than anything about my experience with Legendary at EIEIO was that it was the game during whose demo I got to be warm. I had waited outside in brutal cold and rain for the demo session to start, and the Legendary demo took place inside a Games4U "Mobile Game Theater" -- essentially a trailer full of seating, TVs, and, most importantly, heat. It was great. That's not even a snide way of saying that the game wasn't any good -- it was just really, really cold outside.

Legendary puts the player in the middle not only of a war between the White Council and the Black Order, but also an invasion of fantasy creatures triggered by the player character's own inadvertent opening of Pandora's Box. The only weapon against these monsters: the signet that once locked the box, now merged into protagonist Charles Deckard's hand. Oh, and also a bunch of guns and stuff.
The demo level took place in some kind of semi-futuristic London, with force fields installed in alleyways on cobblestone streets, holding prisoners from Deckard's faction. The demo begins inside, where I immediately picked up some kind of automatic weapon and a fire axe. Upon stepping outside, I was assaulted not only by enemy soldiers, but also some kind of white wolf-creature (like the one seen above). The soldiers are easily killed, but the creatures are much faster and stronger, and they can (and frequently do) climb up buildings with ease. Shooting one of these things isn't even enough to put it down; unless you put a finishing shot into its head, the thing will come back. After a creature dies, you can use the signet in your hand to absorb its animus (life force), which can be used to recover health or to fire off an "animus pulse."

I ducked into a building and climbed a stairwell, at which point I could see a bigger wolf-thing being held behind one of those force fields. I zoomed in with my gunsight, fired on the glowing green access panel, and let the creature out. It started tearing the enemy soldiers apart, which, of course, is awesome. Unfortunately, it saw me from half a block away and made a beeline to my second-floor room, where it killed me. When a werewolf attacks, by the way, it leaves orange claw marks across the screen like a House of the Dead zombie.
I'm not sure if this encounter means that the enemies are too smart, but it was certainly exciting to be pursued so tenaciously. Dying: significantly less exciting.

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I learned later by watching other players that the melee weapon, the fire axe, is much more powerful than the gun, taking out the smaller wolf creatures in one hit. The fire axe might end up being "rebalanced" later, but in this demo version it is absolutely the way to go. In fact, it fits the character of the game well. Legendary is fast-paced and visceral, and close-up hand-to-hand combat fits that tone.

The fire axe isn't just excellent for fighting werewolves. Amusingly, you can smash your squadmates all you want and, while they react with annoyance, they don't take any damage. This leads very quickly to an emergent gameplay style called "hitting people with a fire axe, then laughing."

Legendary was, in general, one of the fastest-paced, most arcade-like FPS games I've seen. It should be a good time if that kind of pace keeps up throughout the game.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.