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Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom Review

27 January 2007

Sony Online Entertainment has been known to make some great action RPG’s such as Everquest and Champions of Norrath, but with the Untold Legends series, the leap from PSP to PlayStation 3 has been lacklustre.

The Untold Legend series has so far been an 'average' series on PSP and this trend continues with the jump to PlayStation 3. Dark Kingdom has its enjoyable moments and can certainly be enjoyed by fans of the action RPG genre, but it lacks a killer twist to separate it from the multitude of other roleplayers out there. With Oblivion just around the corner - is this a worthwhile purchase? Let's examine.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

The story in Dark Kingdom sets you on a quest to stop an insane King who has been corrupted by an evil power. The mad monarch has warped the land of Dureth which you used to call home, and something has to be done about it. Sounds intriguing enough, but this noble charge effectively boils down to you wandering the land killing stuff. This wanton murdering will get you through pretty much every level without putting in much of an effort. Despite cut-scenes played out in static, storybook images giving a magical, fairytale feel to things, the 'intriguing' storyline keeps coming back around to repetitively slaying stuff until your sword’s blunt.

But the death-dealing isn’t too bad – repetitive, but not too bad. There are tons of different enemies giving you new targets to aim at around every corner. While you’re armed with the typical button-mashing hack and slash technique, SOE has added a new combo system to give you a more strategic feel to what you’re doing.
 
I’m holding out for a hero
 
You can select your brave hero from three wildly different, but pretty clichéd, characters that all range in abilities significantly. There’s the lumbering warrior who uses brute strength and can take devastating blows, the powerful mage, and finally there is the female scout shown on the cover who is a mix between the two classes and the fastest character in the game.
 
When levelling up you’ll get to spend stat points on whatever statistics you so choose, but you only get two points per level so the customization of characters is extremely marginal. Although, your character’s exclusive powers can be levelled up five times to give you a certain distinctiveness. The way Dark Kingdom characters develop and get stronger feels very reminiscent of Diablo II, but it’s not nearly as in-depth due to the limited skill choices.

Interestingly, despite gaining weapons, armor and equipment throughout the game, there are no shops or stores in Dark Kingdom to buy or sell equipment. This only takes place at the checkpoints throughout the game, where you can only buy the equipment you need for the level ahead. If you wish to sell your hoard of items you've amassed, you’ll find that you can’t, you have to break it down into Essence, the game's currency.

A cameraman, a cameraman, my Kingdom for a cameraman!
 
When exploring the land of Dureth the most frustrating feature is the camera. You are allowed to control the angle of the camera, which in a single player game work well . The problem rests in multiplayer. When playing with a friend you’ll get frustrated and dizzy, as both of you wrestle for control of the camera to get the best view.
 
It’s not always the camera causing you a headache either. Getting stuck on scenery is a common occurrence, with your hero’s most deadly nemesis often being nothing more than a tree or rock.

Keys to the Kingdom
 
Despite some intuitive, pick-up-and-play controls, Dark Kingdom’s single player mode gets very repetitive very soon. Most people will find it hard to play for long periods of time as there aren’t many tough challenges and or exciting discoveries to be found throughout the land of Dureth.
 
What is engaging is the co-op mode, that'll have you desperately rushing around the levels in greedy desperation as you try to amass more gold and items than your supposed comrade-in-arms. Great fun, if you can stomach the whirling camera.
 
Far less fun is the fact that you'll need to create a whole new hero to join a buddy's quest, your single player champion will have to sit this one out. If you can get past the annoying camera, multiplayer is a blast. It’s almost a race to develop the better character, slay as many creatures as possible, collect the most booty, and save the land of Dureth. Pretty frantic, not very co-operative, but a lot of laughs.

RSX Factor
 
Less amusing, is that on anything other than a HD television, Dark Kingdom doesn't look particularly spectacular and far from 'next gen'. In high definition, things get a lot better, but the visuals still don't push the PS3's supposed graphical capabilities and the much lauded RSX chip.

Judging by the direction the two PSP prequels were going, Dark Kingdom had the potential to be a great game. But with repetitive gameplay, so-so storyline and mediocre graphics SOE's first stab at hack 'n' slash roleplaying on PS3 barely makes it out of the dungeon alive.

 

-The Final Word-

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom is an uninspiring, unsatisfying, and unoriginal action-RPG worth a rent at most.
  • The sound is decent and flows fine during gameplay.
  • Dark Kingdom can actually be pretty good fun with a friend.
  • The online is dragged down by awful camera and miscellaneous issues.
  • The graphics are relatively lackluster.
  • Your character can get stuck in almost every environment.
7.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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