Sunday, August 29, 2010

12 Months, Sixty Dollars and a PS2: August


Legion:  The Legend of Excalibur   

Remember back when I foolishly thought that Mobile Light Force 2 was going to be a dungeon crawler ala X-men Legends?  Well, if I was disappointed back then, this month’s game more than makes up for it.  Legion: The Legend of Excalibur (Legion from this point out) is a fairly traditional dungeon crawler wherein you take on the role of King Arthur recruiting and leading the Knights of the Round Table through noble quests worthy of the son of Uther Pendgradon.  Along the way, you’ll rescue terrified villagers, defend besieged castles, and even seek out the Holy Grail.

For its part, Legion is a fairly complex game.  While the fundamental game play is pretty much the same from level to level, the level designs are dynamic and the variety of quests keeps the game fresh.  The introductory levels do not do the game due justice and if you are initially unimpressed by what the game is giving you, stick with it until Percival joins you on the Avalon mission.  Once you gain a few knights to aid you in your quest, the game’s true strengths become apparent.  Each character has different weapons and abilities and will bring their own unique flavor to your quests.  You can take control of the knights who join you (and sometimes it is almost a must), or you can just command them as the King of the Britons.

Game play is pretty solid and despite the instruction manual’s attempt to confuse you, the controls are pretty much pick-up-and-play with a few things to learn here and there.  Controlling each character gives you command of different abilities, strengths and weaknesses and there is enough variety to keep the game interesting depending on how you want to tackle a level.  Stamina stats keep you from using your heaviest attack incessantly, and the swarms of enemies require you to think out your approach to a given a situation.  Navigating the various menus is uncomplicated and keeps from making a simple crawler a logistical mess, a shortfall of the aforementioned X-men Legends game.

If Legion has problem areas they are minimal.  One thing that struck me was the difficulty.  The game isn’t terribly hard, but there are spots that seem insanely difficult.  They seem insanely difficult until you realize the games other major flaw: patience.  With flashbacks to Robotron: 2084, there are parts of this game where the enemies swarm you in what seems like an endless push guaranteed to send you to the game over screen.  However, all is not lost in such a situation.  When faced with overwhelming odds (like the castle siege in level 2) there is usually a place you can retreat to and let the enemy come to you in smaller bunches where you can knock them off with relative ease.  If you are really lucky, this retreat point will also be near a healer so that all of your knights will stay refreshed.  This strategy works for most areas where the game jumps up and bites you in the butt.  So the difficulty in Legion is kind of schizophrenic, but outside of that the game is pretty solid and a lot of fun.

Most of all, it passes the $5 test.  If you can find Legion: The Legend of Excalibur for five dollars, not only is well worth the coinage, it is a shame to pass it up.  If dungeon crawlers are your kind of bag, baby, then Legion is definitely worth adding to your collection.  I hereby declare this five dollar find a winner! 

Next month…Green…

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