NetGuide NZ - Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the blade

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Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the blade

My decision to buy this game for the PSP was based primarily on the time I thought it would take to finish. I didn’t want a game which I would get half a day out of, rather one I could spend weeks on, and play a few times through if I wanted. Not having tried this hack ‘n’ slash RPG style of game before, I was unsure what to expect, although the box-shots looked great, and it sounded pretty cool from the description. So far, the total time in-game has been 43 hours, and I’m halfway through playing it with my third character, so I think it was a pretty good investment.

Untold Legends is set in a world called Unataca, and you play the champion of the last remaining bastion of civilised humanity, Aven. It is similar in style (I’m told) to Diablo. A three dimensional world populated with dungeons, sewers and forests, viewed from above as you slash and spellcast your way through hordes of fiendish hellspawn who are gagging for your blood. The story itself seemed fairly weak, but its implementation was great. I had a main quest to follow, which was updated as I completed each part, as well as a lot of sub missions, but I could work on the quests at my own pace, and could wander off halfway through one quest to try my hand at another, only returning later to finish the first. This gave the game a very open and non-linear feel, which I appreciated, not liking games which force you on to a particular path.

You can pick one of four character types when you start - two are spellcasters, and two are melee fighters. As you gain experience from your kills and the completion of missions, you can increase your various strengths, learn new spells and skills, and generally kick more arse. As with other Dungeons and Dragons games, you pick up treasure, armour and weapons from the creatures you kill, and chests which are scattered around here and there, and there are plenty of magical items, some of which can be added to existing weaponry and armour to alter their properties. Anything you wear or wield appears on your character as you play, so you can end up looking pretty unusual, which is very cool.

Combat in the game basically entails mashing the X button until all the monsters around you are dead. If you’re a spellcaster, you might cast a quick spell on your way in, and often during a large fight you will have to quaff a health potion. Luckily, the controls are organised in a way that is fast and intuitive. The X button swings your weapon, the O and Triangle buttons can be customised to hold one of your many spells, the square is the action button, and you move around with the analogue controller. Spells are assigned to the O and Triangle buttons by using the directional pad, so switching spells during heavy combat can be difficult. The right shoulder button in combination with the four normal buttons allow you to switch weapons, zoom in and out, block and show the mini-map, while the left shoulder button lets you drink a health potion. I had a little difficulty with drinking a power potion though - you have to hit both left and right shoulder buttons simultaneously, often mis-timing it, and drinking your last health potion by accident. I figured out later that you could hold the right button, and tap the left.

The monsters aren’t too clever, mostly just running up to you and attacking, but sometimes an enemy spellcaster will run away and cast spells at you from afar, and often you’ll find you’ve been surrounded and have to fight off a large group to get to an enemy that’s firing arrows at you before you run out of potions again. Later on in the game, you’ll find (often in some areas) that you’ve been frozen on the spot and pummelled relentlessly without being able to retaliate, but funnily enough, you can still drink those potions, so keep a good supply handy. The bosses can be a bit more resourceful, but are generally just bigger and tougher versions of things you’ve already fought.

While there’s no on-line multiplayer gaming for it, Untold Legends comes with an ad-hoc mode, where you can battle alongside your friends. Definitely worth checking out, as it does add a whole lot of fun and re-playability to the game. Another cool feature is the ability to restart the story, but keep your current character’s stats and weaponry intact. The monsters level up to match your skill, so it’s no walk in the park, but can be entertaining.

Graphically, this game is stunning. The lighting and weather effects add a lot of atmosphere without going over the top. You might find the occasional motion blurring annoying, but you don’t really notice it after a little while. The countryside is lush, and caverns dark and spooky. Aven itself (your home town) looks almost photographic - like a medieval village, and the character animation is smooth and flawless. If you zoom in, you can even see fine detail on the weapons and armour, and well defined muscles. I sometimes found myself casting spells and using up all my power just because they looked so cool. Added to the atmosphere of the graphics, the sound effects really cap it off, particularly if you use the headphones. The music wasn’t really to my taste, but suited the game - each dungeon has its own background track, so after playing for a while, you can tell where you are by the music.

Overall, I was very impressed with Untold Legends. While the combat’s more button mashing than anything, RPG’s have always been about levelling up your character than anything else, and with the added customisability, this one really pulls it off well. It’s a great game to show off some of the capabilities of the PSP, and should keep you going for at least 20 hours the first time through. 

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