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Chaos Legion (PlayStation 2) artwork

Chaos Legion (PlayStation 2) review

"Meet Sieg Warheit. Despite his fancy title of the Dark Knight of Glyph, his job basically involves kicking evil’s ass. Armed with little more than a glowing sword, divine magic, and a flowing cape, Sieg has to wander through medieval Europe and annihilate all the demons roaming the countryside. While brutally slaughtering hordes of random evil beings is little more than a day at the office for him, Sieg’s latest assignment is a bit more intriguing. An angst-ridden villain (who happens to be his ..."

Meet Sieg Warheit. Despite his fancy title of the Dark Knight of Glyph, his job basically involves kicking evil’s ass. Armed with little more than a glowing sword, divine magic, and a flowing cape, Sieg has to wander through medieval Europe and annihilate all the demons roaming the countryside. While brutally slaughtering hordes of random evil beings is little more than a day at the office for him, Sieg’s latest assignment is a bit more intriguing. An angst-ridden villain (who happens to be his former best friend for the sake of plot development) named Victor Delocroix has stolen the Apocrypha of Yzarc, a book that can apparently summon a being strong enough to destroy the world. Sieg’s mission is to hunt him down, hack him into a few bloody pieces, and prevent Armageddon. Needless to say, this falling out is going to be nasty.

It’s not like you’ll really care about the utterly cliched story, though. The game spouts plenty of fancy (and occasionally difficult to pronounce) names and gothic themes in your direction, but the sporadic dialogue and jumbled cutscenes won’t make much sense until the latter parts of the game. Thankfully, the game lets you skip the majority of these blandly executed scenes in favor of the game’s more interesting feature: pure, unmitigated brawling. Sieg may be the church’s lackey, but he can wield a sword with a level of badassery on par with Devil May Cry’s Dante. Don’t assume that this guy (and the entire game, for that matter) is a cheap knockoff of Capcom’s more popular stuff; even if Sieg doesn’t have much in the way of charisma, he can still eviscerate the average foe with a few swings of his trusty sword. Even if his small assortment of thrusts and slashes makes the combat repetitive, there’s nothing more fun than watching Sieg smack an SUV-sized lobster monstrosity around like a giant tennis ball.

It’s not going to be easy, however. The enemies in Chaos Legion are some of the most aggravatingly diehard foes ever seen. Just imagine a demonic tree monster with thick roots plunging deep into the marble flooring of some godforsaken courtyard. You can practically see the slimy sap oozing down its sides. As Sieg dashes up to it in an attempt to hack away its crusty mantle and rip into its tender innards, he’ll be riddled with laser blasts from the squad of bionic cannons that the monster summoned to protect it. After Sieg winces from the scalding pain and struggles to his feet, a bunch of thorny tentacles will rise from underground and toss him around like a rag doll. Upon hitting the ground, our hero will likely get swept up in the shock wave kicked up by the monster’s movements. Indeed, your foes will waste little time in trying to rip you to shreds. You’ll have to pay attention to your enemies’ attack patterns and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Since Sieg is horribly underpowered for the first few stages of the game, you’ll find that some of the stronger enemies can take dozens of gut-spattering blows before finally keeling over. Considering that progressing through the game usually requires you to annihilate all the enemies in a certain area, completing a stage can be both challenging and time consuming. Thankfully, Sieg can summon the Legions, an assortment of supernatural entities, to serve as his backup. Some Legions will swarm a foe with a flurry of blades, while others will snipe targets from afar, roast monsters with electricity, or shield Sieg from unfriendly fire. With each successful attack, the Legions will rack up experience points that can be used to upgrade their stats, add new attacks, or boost their ranks. Even if the Legions aren’t rampaging across the battlefield, they can still assist Sieg by giving him the power to execute devastating combos, attack counters, and even kick bombs around like a bunch of fiery soccer balls.

But before you get too lost in the bloodshed, you’ll still have to keep strategy and combat in mind. Though your Legions look awesome, they still fall prey their elemental weaknesses. Your troops are usually strong against one type, but weak against another. A Legion can decimate a platoon of organic foes in mere seconds, but may have to execute over a hundred hits to take down a single steel enemy. Some Legions tend to do better in long-range combat, but get hacked to death when surrounded. Since your Legions can only stay on the battlefield as long as you have enough Soul power to command them (conveniently shown by an energy gauge onscreen), you’ll have to make sure that they don’t get overwhelmed by the enemy’s assault. It’s not like the game is going to give you many chances either; despite allowing you unlimited continues, you’ll frequently find yourself looking at the Game Over screen. Regular (but still remarkably tough) enemies aside, the game’s boss battles will be brutal enough to make you want to fling your controller down in a weepy fit.

Since you’ll likely have to replay some of the stages several times, you’ll probably notice how poorly designed they are. Each level in Chaos Legion is essentially a series of small, linear arenas linked together by gateways. Sure, you’ll get to duck behind pillars and walk through crumbling castle ruins, but you’ll find that there is no exploration involved. The fact that your field of vision is fairly limited doesn’t help, either. Sure, you can rotate the camera in a third person perspective, but there isn’t much to see beyond a few feet. You’ll find that the ornately designed tile flooring and decrepit bricked walls will give way to a blanket of fog once they get enough distance away. Evidently, the game designers decided to ignore the quality of the level designs in favor of the character modeling; many of the beings look like hardcore versions of the foes you’d see in the Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Devil May Cry series. You’ll have to hack into the scaly guts of headless quadrupeds, smash the plated armor of the tentacle snipers, and take down countless club-swinging ogres from Hell. The Legions come in different styles, complete with glowing auras and metallic limbs. In the midst of all the chaos, Sieg administers holy justice with fluid attack animations, a tattered white cloak, and a head full of blood-red hair.

Dante, eat your heart out.

Chaos Legion is one of the great unsung brawlers of the PS2. So the story is cliched beyond belief. So the characters are forgettable. Maybe its presentation could have been executed better. Big deal. The game is overflowing with some of the toughest brawling action you’ll ever face. Considering the vast hordes of diehard foes and an unforgiving learning curve, you’ll be in for quite a challenge. What the game doesn’t boast in style, it makes up for in content. Obtaining all of the Legions, maxing out their abilities, and learning to use them effectively in battle makes for a unique experience. Never mind the inevitable comparisons between Chaos Legion and the Devil May Cry titles; this game is in a league all its own.


disco's avatar
Community review by disco (June 23, 2007)

Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.

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