Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Release Date: Spring 2008
Charlie Deckard is a professional thief. Unfortunately for him, he’s just gotten an easy job he wasn’t expected to survive. The odd curio he’s just accidentally opened in the middle of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is actually Pandora’s Box.
Some myths would have you believe that the Box is empty now. Those myths are wrong. Now golems, griffons, werewolves, and worse things are tearing New York apart, and they’re spreading across the world faster than humanity can react.
Deckard, because he’s the idiot who opened the box in the first place, has been branded with an odd sigil on his hand. This gives him the ability to absorb energy from dead monsters to heal his wounds, which means he may be the only person in any position to stop the monsters.
That’s Legendary’s first level, which plays out like a massive disaster movie. You begin the game unarmed, and must simply start running through a maze that used to be downtown New York before the monsters hit. You run through a cratered street, duck into a ruined convenience store, and must duck aside before a griffon punches through the store window and devours you. It’s one of the purest expressions of next-gen yet; this is the kind of everything-falls-apart sequence that would’ve been very difficult to pull off this elegantly on the previous generation’s software.
It’s all the more impressive because it’s not scripted; all the NPCs in the environment react to the situation as it develops, forcing you to react on the fly. The developers behind Legendary worked on the original Medal of Honor games – the first one, Underground and Frontline -- so they know how to effectively connotate a chaotic situation. Without having to exhaustively detail every rivet on a WWII-era tank, they can cut loose, and that’s when the golem made out of the rubble of Times Square comes to punch your ticket.
Legendary, in short, is meant to be dynamic. You don’t weave through action set-pieces; you must constantly react on the fly as enemies do to you. They’ll take cover, act to destroy your cover, and generally do everything they can to try to punch your ticket.
As the game progresses, you’ll eventually begin to fight the members of the secret society that hired Deckard for the theft in the first place, whereupon the game turns into an odd sort of three-way running battle. You’ll be up against well-trained paramilitary forces, which makes the game begin to feel like other shooters, but at the same time, you’ll have other soldiers on your side and be forced to contend with monsters. Legendary changes up the pace fairly often.
Right now, it’s an odd time for anyone to be releasing a first-person shooter, with the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of Halo 3 looming on the horizon. Legendary is a cross-platform release, so hopefully, it should capture some of that same audience on multiple systems.