By November 14, 2005

Untold Legends PSP Game Review

Untold Legends is like the warning for lifestyle drugs like Viagra. You know the warning. “If you have an erection for more than four hours, go see a doctor.” Too much of something can be a very bad thing. Boner for four hours? Bad thing. Repetitive hack and slash roleplaying game for the PSP? Bad thing.

Untold Legends is a launch title for Sony’s handheld gaming system. The premise of the story is simple: what begins as a festive day for a small kingdom turns out to be the first step in fighting against an ultimate evil. Pretty straightforward, eh? So is the storyline, which hand-holds you step by step through the linear story arc. There are possibly three optional quests, the rest are mandatory to advance the game. The quests are also straightforward: go to this place, kill this foe, and bring back that magic item so I can give you step 2. In the computer RPG world, we call these “kill quests.” They are second on the Holy God This Is Boring scale next to the “FedEx” quest, where you take Item A from Location 1 to Location 2.

Surely if we have to endure a ton of kill quests we’ll at least get to kill lots of interesting monsters in varying lands across the realm, yeah?

Yeah? Sony Entertainment, yeah?

Oh, no. Right — the same two dozen or so monsters are reskinned or repurposed the entire game. Here’s the system:

  • Starting level model. It only does a melee and can be killed in one or two hits.
  • The same exact model with more hit points — three or four whacks. It might also hit you for more damage.
  • The same model except it has a bow or other ranged, magic attack. Normally one or two hits will put it down.
  • Same model except it has a “fiery” or “icy” ring around it. Fiery ring? Extra damage. Icy ring? Freezes you.
  • The puker! I like this one. Same model, except instead of a melee attack it PUKES ON YOU.
  • And then, of course, any combination above (sans puker, it just pukes) with a slow, freezing, or stun ranged attack.
  • Guys that blow up.

That’s it! If you peel away these combinations, there are probably barely over a dozen creatures in the game.

Surely if we have to endure a ton of kill quests and repetitive, unoriginal combinations of monsters in varying lands across the realm, we’ll at least get to wield a dazzling array of arms and armor, yeah?

Yeah? Sony Entertainment, yeah? (Tugs sleeve)

There are a lot of choices for weapons in Untold Legends, except that most of them are bad ones. I found, illogically, that my berserker could dual wield two staves to crank out maximum damage. I also munchkinned the game’s rune upgrade system to great — and boring — effect. The game allows you to enchant basic weapons with runes and other magic objects found throughout the realm. One particular rune has a chance to restore health upon a successful hit. Two of these healing runes + two badass, high damage staves = easy win with no reason to change my strategy for other equipment. Sure, you could add fire damage, or ice damage, or raise your chance to score a critical hit, but why bother? The compelling choice was the only choice: swing massive weapons that heal you as you go about your business. In regards to my armor, all I wanted was maximum hit points. I discarded any resist gear or other options in favor of stamina, which raised my hit points. I played the game for probably 40+ hours and only died about a half dozen times.

So, any redeeming qualities to Untold Legends? Yes, one major one — it kept me occupied on three cross-country flights plus a few evenings at home while Lady Jaye was asleep beside me. I don’t know if the tedium drew it out, or if the game is actually as long as I imagined, but I swear I got a lot of play time out of Untold Legends. Granted, it was repetitive, unoriginal, uninspiring munchkin play time, but that’s a hell of a lot better than sitting idle while hordes of sickly, cranky children wail for six straight hours in the air.

I was thinking in bed about this game last night, and I thought to myself, “self, why isn’t this game more like Diablo II? That game was a lot of fun!” And then I realized that Untold Legends is A LOT like Diablo II — online play, static character generation, skill trees, the ability to upgrade your equipment. The storyline was also very similar. But why wasn’t Untold Legends as much fun? Was it the lack of true variety in arms and armor in Untold Legends that tipped the scales? Or perhaps do I now expect more out of my games, especially after playing vastly open-ended games like World of Warcraft and Dark Age of Camelot? Oh well, on to the summary!

Strong like a berserker’s angry arm!

  • Um, you get to bash stuff. Bashing stuff is good mindless fun for when you don’t want to have to think.
  • Teleport/waypoint system saves time going from zone to zone — this is particularly helpful given the running back and forth the game makes you do.
  • You can log a lot of hours playing this game, which is good if you are just looking for something to pass the time.

Legendary Boredom

  • Not enough unique character models for monsters.
  • Skills, weapons, and armor choices devolve quickly into one most effective template.
  • Gold is worthless — I ended the game with almost 200,000 gold pieces. I possibly spent 1000 gold pieces the whole game on equipment. Why do we need so much gold?
  • The quest objectives may change, but the object of the game is still the same: go from Point A to Point B, kill Monster Zero and return Magic Item X to an NPC.
  • I found myself wondering why I was still playing this game. It’s very long — the same strength is a weakness — my obsessive personality was all that kept me interested in the game, long after I’d figured out how to maximize the game mechanics.

Untold Legends, I give your gloriously averageness a gloriously average:

Two and a half out of five STFU mugs!

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1 Comment on "Untold Legends PSP Game Review"

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  1. configuratrix says:

    I guess there’s a reason those legends were untold.