A 3D, gothic-styled hack-and-slasher from Capcom? Yes, this is not unprecedented. But before we dive into the comparisons, let it be said that Chaos Legion has a few surprises up its (stylish jacket) sleeve.
There are two playable characters in the game, plus hordes of friendly NPCs called legions. The player advances through a set of linear levels, using the legions, items, and a lot of real-time swordplay to clear out tons of monstros enemies. Defeating these foes nets the player experience, but only the legions can level up. Because of this, and the action game traditions, there is some doubt about whether or not Chaos Legion is a true RPG. But to its credit, Chaos Legion has a bigger emphasis on story than most action titles.
The plot is centered around a calm yet inwardly maniacal villain named Victor Delacroix. Victor isn't about to let the world of mortals stand in the way of his grandiose schemes, and it falls on the shoulders of Sieg Wahrheit, his former friend, to stop him. The player also assumes the role of Alicia Winslett, who is out to avenge her brother slain by Victor. The tale unfolds through generous amounts of cutscenes and CG movies that come and go without unnecessary pause to the gameplay. Although the story seems to be rife with melodramatic religious overtones, the game is based on a novel, so story can't be all bad.
Combat is exactly what one would expect in a modern day action game. Tapping the attack button repeatedly creates combo attacks, and there's a modest jumping move that can be used to dodge blows. The legions are the only oddity, and Alicia can't even take advantage of them. She does have some interesting moves using her two pistols to make up for it, though.
The legions, once summoned by tapping a button, can either serve as a defensive shield or go on the offensive. Sieg can sic them on specific foes by firing a targeting projectile, or he can leave them to attack the nearest enemies. The sheer amount of opponents and their later power makes the use of legions necessary, but there are consequences. First off, the legions have an effect on Sieg's soul meter, which is built up by killing enemies. The soul meter can also be expended for a one-time special attack - but I digress. The more immediate drawback to using legions is that Sieg loses his ability to run, and must dispatch monsters at a more relaxed pace.
Unfortunately for the balance of the game, not all legions are created equal. The player can get away with only building up a couple of legions and using them for most of the game. This is partly because the player can only take two legions into the level, and only summon one legion (or at least one type; groups can be summoned) at a time. Not only does this detract from variety in the most key area of the game, it also makes an already simple game easier. Capcom does seem to have fallen in that rut with its action titles... why does Devil May Cry 2 suddenly come to mind?
No complaints about the technicality, however. Even when the screen is filled with insectoid enemies and demonic legions, there is absolutely no slowdown. The animation does seem a bit choppy, but agreeably so, as if the characters were jumping from one pose to the next. The gothic backgrounds are top-notch, and the realistic-looking characters, with their convincing CG facial expressions, can walk with the best on the Playstation 2. The large amount of life bars and combo data isn't strikingly distracting, but some people may find it so. Ditto with the amount of splatter on the screen.
Chaos Legion features the occasional slow piano piece, but most of its soundtrack is pumping, vaguely gothic rock. Overall, the tunes are more typical of an action game than an RPG. The character voices are respectable, and the combined effect with the graphics in the cutscenes is very... effective. The only sound-related concern is the repetitive sound effects. How many times can one hear the same sword slash, as good as it might sound?
There are very few games like Chaos Legion available for the PC, and it is different enough from its PS2 counterparts to set it apart. In the end, however, it may be its similarity to a tried-and-true formula that makes Chaos Legion a success.