" Contrary to popular opinion, first impressions aren’t everything. "
Contrary to popular opinion, first impressions aren’t everything.
Consider this: Mega Man Legends looks like ass. The character models are blocky and simplistic – I swear, you could count the polygons on any given NPC. The texture work is both bland and repetitive, and pixelated to no end. Production values are uniformly lame, with many of the game’s overworld environments constructed with no attention paid to strategic placement or organization – here’s a building, here’s a tree, here’s a wall, and so on. Make a list of all the graphical missteps a development team could make (pop-up, jaggies, rough edges, etc.) and you’re bound to find them all within Legends.
Here’s something else to consider. The camera in Legends is positioned roughly eight feet behind Mega Man, and it is not moving. In most games, when the camera hits a wall or any solid object, it will compromise. It will move closer, or stop, or change angles. When the camera in Legends hits a wall, it sees no problem in simply moving right through the wall to keep its place eight feet behind Mega Man. Just imagine the clipping issues that spawn from something like this. That camera has a job to do, and damned if a solid object is going to stop it!
These are the kinds of flaws you notice immediately. First impressions. The game sounds like shit, doesn’t it? Why, surely such cosmetic issues are the mark of a poor, unfinished product!
But then, less than an hour into Legends, I was astounded – the game was able to surpass its seemingly gaping flaws by offering a fresh, grand, exciting adventure, one that’s arguably as varied and memorable as any of Mega Man’s more famous affairs. Let Legends be proof that pure, unadulterated entertainment overrides a multitude of sins.
It is the simplest of all setups. Mega Man (ever the half-human, half-robot boy he always was) and his stepsister Roll crash land their airboat on a small, remote island, where the local inhabitants are being terrorized by a family of pirates. Naturally, the combat-ready hero is dragged into the mix, and chaos follows. The pirates in question are the Bonnes, comprised mainly of the red-eyed Teasel (who’s crazy as a crapbox rat) and his teenage sister, Tron. Mega Man and Roll are treasure hunters, though, and they’re interested in the supposedly legendary secrets this island holds. So our heroes are after the same thing the pirates are after, really, only they’re nice about it.
So much emphasis has been placed on making the characters likeable and charismatic that the Bonnes mark perhaps the first group of villains in videogame history that kind of had me hoping I would fail. Their larger-than-life personalities are a stark contrast to the quiet and timid (yet still wholeheartedly lovable) main characters, and while they’re evil, it’s impossible not to laugh alongside them. At one point, it seems as though the Bonnes may have been killed. The possibility of death for any villain generally makes me happy. In this case? I was sad.
Legends follows an almost Zelda-like adventure structure and contains some faint RPG elements (such as the ability to create and upgrade secondary weapons, ranging from the typical rockets and mines to such things as a sword or shield), but this is an action game at heart. Rarely do five minutes go by without the opportunity to blow something up. The initial challenge is in getting used to the odd controls (which actually function much like an old-school FPS – appropriate, since Legends is all about shooting), but soon the real difficulty is in overcoming the Reaverbots, the faceless machines that guard the ancient ruins lining the game world. The island’s underground network is teeming with mechanical monsters that shoot, ram, pound, and batter you into submission, and the opposition is such that each descent into the darkness is a harrowing journey in its own right.
Above ground, the threat is ever imminent as you are forced to contend with the constant attacks of the tenacious Bonnes. The first major action sequence of the game is a chase through the city as you must hunt down three fully armed war machines with varying attributes on speed, defense, and power. This battle is immediately topped as Tron attempts to take you down herself in her own robot, a pink, four-legged monstrosity that skates, pivots, lurches, cavorts, and cycles through the town as the predator becomes the prey. Soon afterwards, you’ve got to save City Hall from a barrage of demolition machinery. Then you’ve got to trudge through the northern plains battling tanks and turrets until you make it to another climactic boss battle, this time against Teasel’s giant digging machine.
It’s situations like these that remind me why I like Legends so much. It’s a terrific action game, because the action is intense and varied, and there is a lot of it. (I’ve only named a handful of the game’s many innovative and bone-crushing battle sequences.) Despite moving in a tremendously different direction from the Mega Man series’ roots and throwing in elements from other genres, Capcom never forgets that they’re developing an action game, and that the key element of the genre is action.
Is Legends fun enough to overcomes its gaping presentational issues? That’s up to you. The bulk of the game’s flaws, however glaring, are purely cosmetic. You can choose to turn your head and play something more polished, or you can choose to ignore the graphical errors and enjoy Legends for what it’s worth. Just know that I waved aside my less-than-positive first impression and went the latter route, and I was amply rewarded.
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