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   Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade - Review  

Mindless Entertainment on the Road
by Mikel Tidwell

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
25-30 Hours
OVERALL

2.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Whenever there is a new system announced, RPGamers typically have to wait for a few months before an RPG is released for it. Sony surprised us when they released multiple RPGs at the launch of the PlayStation 2. While none of them really took the world by storm, they did provide a snack while waiting for more meaty RPG entertainment. With the launch of Sony's first gaming handheld, RPGamers once again find an RPG waiting on launch day. With the help of their online subsidiary, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony continues the trend with Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade.

   Unlike the PlayStation 2 launch titles, Untold Legends has quite a bit of substance to it. The story starts simply and unfolds piece by piece as one progresses through the game. Most of the backstory is found in journals scattered throughout the land. Without revealing too much, the world is under assault from a dark force--one that has come and gone before. Unfortunately, it has been so long since the last attack that no one in the town remembers anything about it, or how to stop it. They have put all their faith in one person to save the world from destruction.

   There are four classes to choose from--two for each gender. To put it simply, each gender has a melee class and a magic user. The male selections are Knight and Druid, and the female classes are Berserker and Alchemist. While the Knight and Berserker do fight in different styles, the basic game play is the same: hack and slash. As long as the player keeps the upper hand, there's not much challenge in the dungeons. Meanwhile the mages play quite a bit differently. The Alchemist relies on a golem to tank while she fires magic from behind, while the Druid relies on magic to enfeeble his opponents before striking them down.

Get used to being mobbed Get used to being mobbed

   The AI of the monsters is generally a mob mentality. They are positioned in clusters and attack accordingly. In most cases, if the player is losing and flees, the monsters will not follow more than a room or two. If the player stays in a cleared area, nothing new will enter that area, and monsters will not respawn. A player can rest as long as they need to before heading back into the fray. Health and magic restore at a slow rate, but it's cheaper than potions.

   The magic users suffer the most from the interface. When the character levels up, a couple skill points are given to spend among different skills. When a new ability becomes available, it is placed on a circular menu. From this menu, the player can assign an ability to either the circle or triangle button. Once assigned, it can be used at any time without disrupting a battle. While it sounds convenient, it's actually very limiting for the magic user classes. A common combination would be to start off with a slow spell, then a poison shot, and chain lightning for the win. Unfortunately, this is a very tedious task. After firing off the first two spells, the quick casting menu has to be opened, reassign the buttons, and then continue the battle. In addition, only eight abilities can be assigned to the circular menu. These eight abilities can only be changed in the main menu.

   In the center of the known world is the city of Aven. This is the only safe haven in the entire world. As such, there are many teleports to quickly send one to any place they have found a teleporter. Since Untold Legends has an inventory system that's like those found in PC RPGs, it can fill up rather quickly. With no civilization close by, the player can recall to Aven to sell all the items found on the way, as well as pick up any supplies or tips from the townspeople. The adventurer can then recall back to the point they left to continue on their journey. There is no limit to how many times this can be done, and cleared areas will stay cleared, so there's no reason to leave anything behind.

Travel with friends to even the odds Travel with friends to even the odds

   One of the most disappointing things about exploring is how many times the same area has to be crossed. The map is laid out like a tree. One area will link more than one dungeon, sometimes providing the only way into those areas. Each time an area is loaded the monsters are created at a similar level to the player. Therefore, instead of breezing through previously cleared areas, equal effort must be used every time the same area is traveled. It's actually beneficial to use the map and find a different path to an area if possible, because the story tries to make the trip as long as possible. Even with the teleport system, the trek into the wild become longer and longer as the story unfolds.

   Sadly, repeating the same paths over and over pulls away from the best aspect of the game: the environments. The designers have made every effort to include as many different looking places they could think of. From the stonework in the town, to the blizzards of the northern lands, the fire pits of a volcano, to the emptiness of the Dreamspace, the finest details are visible. While zooming in on the main character doesn't serve any purpose in battle, it does show the intricate detail of the world very nicely.

   While taking in the sights, a lot could be desired about the music. The same dungeon music accompanies about half of the areas. The more distant areas mix up the monotony a little, but overall, the music is forgettable. The sound selection is almost as limited. The main character grunts, shouts and yells out in pain as they fight the countless monsters. It would have been nice if there was any variation on these sounds.

   If all this doesn't sound fun, bring a friend or three. Untold Legends takes advantage of the wireless capability of the PSP to bring multiplayer ability. The game makes no adjustments for level differences, so it's easy to level up those slow friends by having them stay back and clearing the area as usual. Since leveling doesn't affect the game's difficulty much, it doesn't hurt to use one character for single and multiplayer adventuring.

   Overall, Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade is a straight-forward dungeon crawler RPG. Sony Online Entertainment put together a visually stunning game for a handheld. If the rest of the game was near as well designed and executed, it would have been a game to remember. Instead, the final product is a nice, pretty distraction now and then, but is too cumbersome to play through at a steady pace.

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