Preview: Legendary

Gryphons, werewolves, minotaurs, and golems: these are all memorable monsters that most gamers have probably squared off against in a heated boss battle at one point or another, but what if all of these magnificent beasts were cast in the same game, set in present day New York City? Throw in an evil cult dedicated to world domination, and you have a whole new way to interact with these brutal icons of folklore. It is this unique scenario that developer Spark Unlimited is planning to deliver with their upcoming FPS, Legendary.

So how exactly did gryphons and minotaurs end up in the same place? They obviously didn’t just pile off of a tour bus in lower Manhattan, but were instead mistakenly unleashed by an expert thief called Deckard, who thought he was carting away just another priceless piece of art, rather than Pandora’s Box itself. Upon opening the box, every classic mythological creature that we thought only existed in bedtime stories is given an all-access pass to pillage and destroy our world. Luckily, Deckard is imbued with a mysterious power from the box that just may help to rid New York of the horrible plague he inadvertently set loose. But before this task can be accomplished, he’ll have to deal with the Black Order, and with a name like that, you can bet they aren’t all about keeping the sun shining.

As mentioned earlier, Spark Unlimited gave itself a pretty big challenge to include mythological creatures that everyone has encountered in one medium or another, but the developer is turning a possible bump in the road into a sky-high launch ramp to give players a new experience with their favorite classical monsters. Don’t worry about Spark messing with the beasts’ key traits, as they promise the iconic look of the most recognizable monsters has been preserved, but liberties were taken to give a more modern twist to ones whose appearances are somewhat vaguely recorded in mythology and thus open to interpretation. Producer John Garcia-Shelton wouldn’t give away exactly which monsters these will be, but did guarantee that "there will be parts where you’ll be playing and think, ’What the hell is that?’"

Of course, it isn’t enough to simply have these famous monsters in a videogame, just like putting a big star in a film doesn’t necessarily translate into a good movie, and the guys at Spark Unlimited know this. To provide an adequate challenge, the creature AI in Legendary possesses a sharp understanding of the environment, and how to use it against the player. Since minotaurs aren’t usually packing sniper rifles, the denizens of Legendary will come up with other ways of combating the player in a melee fashion, such as dodging gunfire, throwing objects, and a variety of other ferocious tactics meant to quickly close the distance between themselves and their prey. “All our monsters are constantly thinking about how they can use their natural advantages in the best possible way to take you out. Players are going to have to be constantly on their toes,” adds Garcia-Shelton.

In order to let beasts such as the gryphon use their surroundings to literally spread their wings, Garcia-Shelton explains that levels were designed with complementing each creature’s unique attributes in mind. For instance, battling a gryphon in an enclosed tunnel wouldn’t be much of a fight, but in a wide open cathedral where the winged monster can swoop through stained glass windows, things should certainly get interesting.

The all-star monster line up may be sporting some heavy hitters with the brains to match the brawn, but Deckard is also given an edge through the signet forged onto his hand upon opening Pandora’s Box. The signet feeds of off Animus energy, which can be collected from fallen monsters, and then used to heal the player, or fuel a powerful energy blast. Unlike the Black Order, the monsters of Legendary won’t be carrying any bandoliers of ammunition, which creates a balance that players must uphold by reserving bullets and working with Animus energy to help keep themselves alive. We asked what other effects a connection to a force like Pandora’s Box would have on a mortal such as Deckard, but Garcia-Shelton remained mysterious and only said that Deckard will learn more about the signet’s power as the story progresses.

Don’t think that the combat of Legendary will only involve switching back and forth between monsters and the Black Order, as the game truly shines when both forces are thrown into the same battlefield, creating gameplay that Spark Unlimited describes as “chaotic in all the right ways." Players will consistently come across situations involving the two groups, and have to decide which to attack first. Even more interesting is that both factions can be maneuvered against one another, but be careful, as making the wrong move can turn both monsters and Black Order against you at the same time! Garcia-Shelton explains that “the point is to have frequent value judgments that the player must make based on their weapons and their Animus inventory.”

The developer isn’t quite ready to discuss multiplayer yet, but they were able to confirm that monsters will have a presence. We know some of you might be eager for the chance to actually control a gryphon and tear apart some online opponents, but while playable monsters were considered, development constraints caused the mechanic to get scratched. “It was something we wanted to do, but we just don’t have the time to implement it due to the amount of programming, controls testing, and other factors that it would take to do it right,” says Garcia-Shelton.

Like Pandora’s Box, Legendary still contains great deal of mystery and surprises that have yet to be revealed. What is apparent is the game’s goal to be more than simply a “where are they now?” compilation of all your favorite mythical monsters. Spark Unlimited promises that when you do finally come face to face with a minotaur or werewolf, the ensuing fight will be as legendary as the creatures themselves.

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