"Sometimes I think that there is a tendency for developers to overlook some of the tried and tested genres in an attempt to appear all cutting edge. In the case of Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom I suppose this fact actually works in its favour as there is not exactly an abundance of hack n slash fighting games with which it needs to compete for attention. I understand that when it comes to creating games these days it is a big budget operation so developers need to do their best to stand out from..."
Sometimes I think that there is a tendency for developers to overlook some of the tried and tested genres in an attempt to appear all cutting edge. In the case of Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom I suppose this fact actually works in its favour as there is not exactly an abundance of hack n slash fighting games with which it needs to compete for attention. I understand that when it comes to creating games these days it is a big budget operation so developers need to do their best to stand out from the crowd but this often results in a game becoming unnecessarily complicated. If I only have a spare half an hour on my hands then I want something that I can pick up and jump right into without any real thought and when I find myself looking at my games collection I can rarely find anything which satisfies this need. Thankfully Untold Legends has a good go at filling this niche in my collection and, while this game has some serious faults, I would like developers to take note that at no point during this review will I be using the phrases “seen it all before” or “nothing new here”. After all, a genre like this is tried and tested for a reason and if I have enjoyed a particular game then what I am often looking for is “more of the same”.
Now I seem to have misplaced the match box on which I jotted down the plot for this game but, don’t worry, I think I can just about manage to cover it from memory. The King has gone bad and is doing all sorts of nasty things to the local population and it is your job to go and teach him a lesson is a pretty fair summary. While this is not the best news for the general public it is all in a days work for whichever of the three generic Warrior, Scout or Mage characters you choose to take into battle. Having selected your game difficulty it with this choice that you are next presented. You cannot change your character during the game so at this point I might be inclined to say “choose wisely”. As it turns out it doesn’t really matter which of the characters you go for as, looks aside, they are all fairly equal in ability. The Warrior will naturally start off with greater strength and the Mage with greater magic but as the game progresses and you are given the chance to level up your character you can pretty much shape them as you see fit.
For those of you who are now thinking that for the last two paragraphs I have been deceiving you and that this in fact an RPG – fear not. Yes the game does have the odd stat to play with and yes there are different pieces of equipment with which you can customise your character but none of these elements is in any way complicated. From time to time as you are fighting your character will gain a new level and when it does you will be given three experience points to spend. You can use two of these points improve your characters stats and one of these points to improve the effectiveness of one of your characters special attacks. There are only six stats to worry about; Health, Mana, Attack Power, Magic Power, Melee Defence and Spell Defence which are all so self-explanatory that I am not going to go into them any further. As for the special attacks, well these are basically a more powerful attack that you can use in conjunction with your standard hacking and slashing but which drain your Mana with use to prevent you from simply spamming them. As your level improves the choice of special attacks also improves so you are bound to find one or two which you particularly like and then spend all your future points on strengthening these.
As for equipment well this is either dropped by enemies from time to time or can be purchased whenever you come across one of the save point Shrines which are dotted throughout the levels. Sadly the equipment options are not all that exciting and although they do change the appearance of your character the effect is often so subtle that there is nothing to encourage you to seek out new kit in order to make your character look as impressive as possible. On top of this you can only vary your clothing and are stuck with the same weapon for the duration of the game. The weapon does come with four slots into which you can drop various gems in order to improve its effectiveness but again, these are not all that exciting. It is easy enough to purchase the best gems early on in the game and once you have a combination which suits your needs you are unlikely to go back and tamper with it later on.
Complaining aside, however, this game is actually pretty fun. The loading times at the start of each level are fairly long but once these are out of the way I was pleased to find out that at the levels are pretty expansive and take a fair amount of time to clear. There is also a more than adequate supply of enemies on hand to ensure that you will be doing plenty more fighting than wandering around aimlessly. For this type of game it is essential to keep the tempo up and I have to say that at most points it does well in creating some frenzied button mashing battles. The enemies are not all that varied but again, in this type of game I am looking for quantity over quality so I am not complaining. Where things do start to fall apart, however, is with the difficulty. Sometimes you will find yourself swatting side an army of foes with relative ease and no obvious health loss and other times you will take a total battering. There is no logic to when this is likely to happen as the difficulty seems to fluctuate rather than increasing as you progress.
The random difficulty is unfortunately not the main criticism which I am going to level at this game. While Untold Legends does look pretty good standing still on the move everything goes seriously wrong. There is the odd bit of slow down but this can be over looked in the face of the disaster that is the in game camera. I genuinely don’t know how this problem can have been ignored prior to the games release as it is not an occasional problem but a constant gripe throughout the whole game. Let us say for example that you are being approached by a single enemy and want to pick it off with a few ranged attacks as it approaches. How annoying would it be if the camera decides to swing around and aim your attacks at a nearby destructible barrel instead? Fairly annoying. But what if you are fighting for your existence in the middle of a hoard of angry enemies and the camera decides to swing around and block your view of the action with a close up on a nearby tree? Again, fairly annoying. So what if you needed to complete a platform jumping section and the camera either went into a crazy juddering fit or better still chose such an obscure angle that it forced you to jump into an obscured instant death pit? There goes my sense of humour.
I am fairly certain that were it not for the unforgivable camera situation that I would like this game and give it a reasonable rating. As I said at the very beginning I wasn’t looking for anything new here and I had almost set out determined to like this game purely because it delivered the type of no frills action I was after. The graphics generally are more than adequate and the music is also fairly reasonable. The speech is a little wooden at times and the cut scenes are nothing to get excited about but still I would have been fairly happy with the game in general. It is not even as if have to resort to just single player bashing as the game provides you with the option of playing online with up to three other players. Granted there is no way of communicating with these other players when you do go online but still this is a nice addition and is both quick and easy to use. Unfortunately there is no excusing this major flaw and I find myself unable to recommend what would otherwise have been a pretty fun game. I find that I can only suggest that you perhaps give this one a rental if you are still curious. If you find that you can cope with the camera disaster then there is plenty of game to go at here which is a real shame. I just hope that, if there is a sequel, then the developers take note. As things stand I am still on the look out for some decent hack n slash action.
Community review by OrpheusUK (April 14, 2008)
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