Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
Score: 64%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2 (1 - 4 Online)
Genre: RPG/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
The first thing you'll notice in Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom are the trees. Not because they are beautiful necessarily, but because they are everywhere. And you are forced to look through them constantly, almost totally obscuring your view. You begin your Dark Kingdom journey in a deeply wooded area outside of a city. Your view is a top-down isometric view much like those of the latest Gauntlet games. While this may seem like the optimal viewpoint for a hack and slash game of this sort, because there was no transparency applied to the damned trees, playing the game in the early stages is an absolute chore. Soon you move on to a ghostly city and it doesn't get much better. Now you are forced to look at crumbling walls that block your view of who or what is kicking your ass. Not cool.

Now, on the upside, the areas are nicely rendered and some are truly beautiful. However, I found myself thinking more often than not that this looked more PS2 than PS3. Your characters look like standard fantasy characters - a warrior, scout and mage. They can wear the equipment that they purchase or pick up, however there is no distinction between different types. A boot is a boot is a boot.

The music is comprised of pleasing orchestral pieces and is rousing when it needs to be and quiet when it should be. Weapons' sound effects are the typical clashes and clangs that we have come to expect and voicework is about average. Not stellar, but it certainly works for the game.

You are a member of the elite Dragon's Shade, the protectors of the kingdom of Dureth. After a long battle with barbarians, the group of three come home to find that something is amiss and that their beloved Dureth has taken on an evil veneer. As the story unfolds, you'll soon find out that it is your once noble king and leader who has turned evil.

You can opt to take on the persona of a warrior, mage or a scout, but they all seem to play relatively the same. Of course, the warrior is a bit stronger, the mage has better magic spells and the scout is somewhat quicker, but its not so big of a difference, really. For example, I began the game as the warrior and StarScream jumped in as a scout for a little co-op play. We played for a good while and eventually grew tired of the game. I died, he was still alive and we saved and quit the game. When I came back to play alone, much to my chagrin, I realized that I was now playing as the scout (which he kindly named Trixie - thanks a lot!) since my character had died last time we played. This really pissed me off, since I didn't have another person to join in to get my warrior back and I was stuck with the scout. Of course, I could have backed it up to an earlier level, but I certainly didn't want to have to redo any part of the game, which I already wasn't particularly enjoying. But here's the kicker - all the cut scenes show my damn warrior! Then the scene immediately cuts back to the scout. How lame is that? There is also online play available, but you can't take your built-up character in and must start fresh online. Where's the fun in that?

So the basic premise is you hack, slash and cast spells all the way through the game, gaining experience to up your character's stats. At the end of a level, you can spend your experience points (2 of them per level) and your stars (1 of them) on upgrading your spells. Along the way, you also collect essence in the form of blue orbs and health in the form of red orbs. You can spend your essence to buy additional armor and such, but it seems rather plentiful so you are better off just picking up what the enemies drop.

Essentially, the game grows tiresome quickly as all you are doing is hacking your way across the countryside. The occasional puzzle is thrown in here and there to mix it up a bit, but it's not enough to keep you riveted to the screen.

There are four levels of difficulty from which to choose. On the default difficulty, the game is about normal difficulty, as would be expected. Enemies take a decent number of slashes to destroy, but it is nothing overwhelming. When another player jumped in, it did appear to both of us that the difficulty increased since there were two of us. I say this since I was wailing through enemies pretty easily when playing alone, then when StarScream jumped in, things seemed to get tougher. Also, he was at a disadvantage since I had already leveled up somewhat and he was starting at zero.

Boss types really didn't seem all that more difficult than mini-bosses, however. Basically, they just have a longer life bar and they generally have lots of minions to distract you from your job.

As I said earlier, the most difficult things about Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom are thrown at you by the game itself.

Game Mechanics:
During gameplay, you'll get stuck on trees and rocks countless times. The collision detection stinks in many areas. The camera will cause your view to be blocked numerous times. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, you'll press down on the right stick by accident, popping your view from near to far away or vice versa. Again, this can cause your ass to get kicked in an undue fashion. The load times - ack! I could make a sandwich and call a friend in the time it takes to boot up the game alone, let alone the load times between levels. There just didn't seem to be a reason for this, taking into account the average graphics.

Overall, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom was a big disappointment for me. I am a Gauntlet fan, so I am no stranger to action RPGs, but this game just wasn't much fun. Things such as a bad camera, shoddy collision detection and lack of a fun factor sour the already sub-par experience. Even if you are itching for an action RPG on your PS3, I'd have to say pass on this one. Rent it if you must.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.