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Joystiq hands-on: Legendary


New York City's being overrun by mythical creatures, there's a building-sized Golem wandering the streets, and ... the Ghostbusters are nowhere to be found. Spark Unlimited, the team behind Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, is in the final stretch with its latest FPS outing, once known as Legendary: The Box (a title that earned it a very special Joystiq award last E3) and now simply Legendary.

Firing it up and starting a new game, we were only moments into it when the non-titular box (belonging to Pandora and filled with nastiness) was opened and the world went to hell. Our preconceptions of a "humans versus monsters" FPS also went out a nearby window once we started noticing that the enemies weren't always gunning exclusively for us.

Gallery: Legendary (06-23-08) | 13 Photos

The initial thrust of the game hurled us onto the streets of Manhattan, where destroyed cars sat burning and griffins swooped down to snatch up innocent city dwellers for snacks. The game's beginning can best be summed up as pure calamity, as you simply try to avoid the seemingly hundreds of hazards between you and your goal. The whole thing looks very pretty, with a distinct visual design and running at a nice, smooth clip.

In later chapters, we got to play around with some neat mechanics, including the player's ability to absorb energy from fallen monsters, using it to restore health or launch it in a directed burst to clear debris and stun enemies. Fighting through a very disrupted subway system, we needed to bypass electronic locks, crawl through vents and activate sprinkler systems in order to extinguish fiery foes.

Later, we encountered werewolves, which, like the rest of the creatures, were just as content to attack the Black Order – the human bad guys out to claim the box's power – as us, as long as we kept to the back and waited for our chance to rush past. Of course, we found ourselves on the receiving end of this emergent gameplay more than once, and were forced to take down the furry, fanged freaks ... making sure to decapitate them so they couldn't resurrect!

We encountered a good mix of combat and puzzles (there were plenty of environmental objects to interact with, forging paths to our destination; for instance, shooting a teetering soda machine so it'd fall and bridge a gap). The most intense and interesting gameplay was experienced when forming a part of an AI-driven squad, dealing with monsters and human enemies, all fighting one-another (as you'd expect).

Legendary is very frantic by design, filled with running and gunning, but also moments of tactical decision when you attempt to play AI against AI and minimize your involvement (and probable death) in battle. Its puzzles and powers – and even its level design – make it difficult not to compare it to BioShock. A BioShock with a much, much faster pace. Whether it can even come close to 2K's classic and be truly "legendary" in the end remains a very Big Daddy-sized question mark.

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