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Legion: The Legend of Excalibur

Developer: 7 Studios | Publisher: Midway
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 06/18/02 | Genre: Action

Midway, once known for their shallow arcade games, has been working hard to change the image of the company. While they still release the same shallow arcade games on the consoles (come on, you know you love to play Blitz and Hitz), they have also resurrected old classic titles and brought them to a new generation. Titles like SpyHunter and the new Gauntlet titles have been very fun games that are definitely worth a spot in your gaming library. However, when I first heard about Legion: The Legend of Excalibur at E3 2001, I started to get very excited. Finally, Midway was branching out to create some awesome new franchises. Teaming up with developer Seven Studios, Legion missed its original ship date of the 2001 Holiday season. When Legion missed its ship date, I wondered if Midway had canceled it. But then I saw it at E3 2002 and it appeared that all of the extra development time paid off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Legion: Legend of Excalibur is a disappointing action "hack 'n slash" that will leave you frustrated and disgusted.

Seven Studios is a relatively new company comprised of some great talent. So when they got together with Midway and presented the idea for Legion: The Legend of Excalibur, I am sure both parties were excited about the outcome. Players will be able to take control of Arthur, claim Excalibur, recruit his Knights of the Round Table, receive guidance from Merlin, and even "hook up" with Gwenevere. The gameplay would feature Arthur and his Knights in a party. At any time, players can switch to the other knights, give orders, and protect each other. As players fight and defeat enemies, experience points are given. Once a level is gained, new skills are added--along with better stats. You can even equip better items. All this sounds like a good idea, don't you think?

After waiting for a while to play the final version, I eagerly popped the disk into the console. My first impressions of the game were not good. The menus have horrible load times and it took forever for me to go back and forth between the options menu and the main menu. However, despite the long load times between menus, Midway and Seven Studios threw some great bonus features on the DVD. Why let all that space go to waste?

Instead of adding DVD bonus features, Seven Studios should have been concentrating on the graphics. They are just atrocious. Blurry, lack of detail, and no ability get a closer look at the world or the characters. You are stuck with a stationary camera way up high in the sky. I like to refer to this camera as the "blimp view."

Despite the bad visuals seen from the Good Year Blimp, the sound and music is not much better. But don't think the worst is over yet. No... Legion: Legend of Excalibur could have been forgiven of all the negative qualities by providing rock-solid gameplay. This is where I threw my controller down in disgust. Let me see if I can capture just how frustrating it is...

After beginning a new game and watching a pretty cool opening cinema, you begin to learn the basics of the controls. After a short training session, you claim possession of Excalibur and must race into battle. Battling enemies is a frustrating experience though. When you swing your sword, you have a choice between a standard--weaker--swing, or a more powerful--but exhausting--swing. As you swing your sword, you will see it flashing. If you are able to hit the attack button while it is flashing, you will start a combo. After this it will flash again and again. If you are successful in keeping the chain alive, you will do some damage with your combo swing. However, I found it very difficult to get the hang of "hitting the button at the right time." This caused much frustration. Even worse, when playing through a level, you can only save after you have beat it. So if you make it to the very end of the stage and can't successfully complete the level you get to start all over from the beginning... Oh what joy! This is tot a good way to reward the player.

As you can see, I got really frustrated with Legion and decided to take a break from it. Several days later, I came back to it so I could try it once more with a fresh outlook. Not long into my gaming session, I began to get frustrated by the gameplay once again.

The biggest problem I have with Legion: Legend of Excalibur is that I had no reason to keep playing. Other titles in the genre--like Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance--kept me hooked and coming back for more. But Seven Studios failed to keep gamers captivated in the world of Arthur that they created. Legion is a title I don't want to ever see again. It was a nice idea but failed in the execution. Perhaps if Seven Studios spent more time in development, fine-tuned the graphics, sound and music, and gameplay, then this would be one of the biggest titles of the summer. As it stands, don't waste your time on Legion: The Legend of Excalibur.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 07/25/02
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for Legion: The Legend of Excalibur

The Universal Console

Sky Gunner