Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
What is there to say about action-RPGs? Nothing, right? We get a lot of them on our plate and except for a few exceptions (Dungeon Siege, Titan Quet) they never manage to get even close to the undefeated king of the genre: Diablo 2. Sony Online Entertainment tries for the third time (previous two were released on PSP) an offensive with its Untold Legends series.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for PS3 brings the series for the first time to a next-gen console but sadly enough “next-gen” again is only applicable for the graphics as the gameplay nicely colors between the lines of the genre. Also now it’s all about killing one group of monsters after the other, solving a simple puzzle here and there, improving your gear and continue with the slashing.
But what Diablo 2 could do as no other game – get you completely hooked on the game thanks to its frenetic item fever – Untol Legends can’t. The game is relaxing (nothing so much fun as slashing some monsters after a busy day), but it never really starts to fascinate.
The story is a bit thin (the king is corrupt and you have to get him off his throne), the gameplay lacks depth, and the missions are all very standard. Your inventory looks like a mess and it’s not always clear which item is better than the other. Good is the possibility to sell equipment you don’t need at any time to get some extra cash for new stuff. However, that’s also partially a necessity as you can’t take along too many items. SOE would have done better to just steal the inventory management system from Dungeon Siege…
Also the skilltree pales to that of other genre titles. There are only three playable classes and they can all choose out of only a dozens skills. These can be improved as you character grows stronger though, but it’s clear that the game is optimised for the warrior class.
The rogue has it a bit more difficult, but as physically weaker mage you’ll constantly be surrounded by melee fighters. With your spells you can take down a couple from a distance, but there will always remain a few that will give you a serious beating. Untold Legends is certainly not the first game to make that mistake but it remains annoying that you’ve got a clear advantage with a warrior.
Dark Kingdom doesn’t look bad in HD, but doesn’t drive the PS3 to its limits. The characters are nicely bumpmapped and the lighting effects are nice. The levels are pretty standard for a fantasy game: castles, underground dungeons, medieval cities, etc.
Now and then there’s an atmospheric part, but usually the worlds feel uninspired. It’s also too bad that the framerate sometimes drops when a lot of special effects or enemies are on screen at the same time. Loading a new level also takes very long but luckily those are the only loading times. The sound effects are decent but not spectacular and also the voice actors aren’t the most talented ones we’ve seen up to now. The music is LoTR-like bombastic and luckily doesn’t work on your nerves.
For those that can’t get enough of the game (the possibility is small) there’s also online multiplayer present.
With a couple of friends you can replay the single player campaign but you can’t load one of your savegames to continue in the story that way. Through co-op that is possible and at any given time a second player can join in. Wrestling yourself through the 10 hour lasting story with a friend is a lot more fun than doing it on your own.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom is probably only interesting for casual gamers and fans of the genre. On PS3 there aren’t that many pure slashers so this game will probably manage to create a nice fanbase. A sequel with some more guts, a deeper gameplay and better graphics might finally manage to get the series to the top as with Dark Kingdom is remains in the average bulk.