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Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Reviewed April 2005 by Alex Lifschitz
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Release Date: March, 2005
ESRB Rating: "T" for Teen
Genre: Action RPG
In the hype that has surrounded the Sony PSP, many launch
titles have been competing for the number one spot. SOE has
fortunately developed a true gem for this little console.
It has been called a lot of things, like a pocket Diablo,
or a portable Baldur's Gate, or a simple port of Champions
of Norrath. Well, after spending countless hours with this
little beauty and its graphics, gameplay, customization,
and multiplayer, I can only call it fun.
The gameplay is what you would expect from a simple hack-n-slash
affair. You run around large world with different zones,
using an assortment of weapons and spells to reach your goal.
If you boil it down to this level of simplicity, it seems
like a fairly uninspired and flat game. But Untold Legends
is much deeper than that.
The story is negligible at best. A powerful outside force
is threatening the town, so hack them to pieces, collect
this scroll, save this maiden, etc. It's really unremarkable
the entire way through, even up to the ending, but to be
fair, the storyline has never been too important in this
type of game. Missions consist of going to a certain area,
beating a boss, retrieving what it drops, and returning to
town for your next quest. Thankfully, a quest journal in
your inventory menu and a handy expandable map will make
sure that you never lose your way, and that you can find
your destination quickly and efficiently. Combat is linear
and somewhat repetitive, but a certain amount of strategy
is required for getting past certain groups of enemies. It's
hack and slash at best, button mashing at worst. The inventory
screen as a whole is relatively simple to work with. It emulates
a PC game in that you use the analog control to move a pointer
around and compare, equip, and use different items. The interface
translates very well to the PSP. However, one gripe I have
is the loading times. Sometimes, they will be as short as
thirty seconds, which is fine if you have friends to discuss
your current game with, or just like looking at the nice
game art they display during the load times. However, they
can get ridiculously long. I've clocked in loading times
of up to two minutes. It will even take a second or two to
load the images in your inventory. Still, it's understandable
given the amount of media in this game.
The bulk of the character customization
is in your equipment, abilities, stats, and class. At the
start of the game, you can choose one of four classes.
There's the male Knight, a basic heavyweight melee attacker
with a penchant for brute strength, and a recommended beginner's
character; the female Alchemist, the mage of the game who
can synthesize potions and transmute things like items
into gold, or even summon an earthen golem; the female
Berserker, who is a quick and deadly melee attacker who
can also throw items (basically the assassin/ninja type
of the game); and the male Druid, a jack-of-all-trades
and a useful healer with a ground in the mage category.
The Knight and Berserker can dual wield weapons, and the
Alchemist and Druid can summon "pets" to
help them along, like a golem or a tempest. While there is
little customization in the character models themselves (you're
limited to name, hair style, and skin tone), you won't notice,
as once you get your first helmet, you character is pretty
much cloaked in armor. Each class also has a certain set
of weaponry and armor. For instance, a Druid or Alchemist
can use bows and arrows, but Knights and Berserkers cannot.
Likewise, Knights and Berserkers get heavier armor, and each
class has different types of it (Alchemists have corsets,
Knights have Plate Mail, etc.).Your experience changes radically
with each of the classes, giving you a new approach to the
game with different sets of abilities. As you level up, you
can assign points to your statistics, which allows you to
customize your character even further. Want a heavy fighter
with healing capabilities? Give a Druid a lot of strength
and stamina points. Perhaps you'd like a knight who can use
a lot of abilities consecutively? Give your Knight a whole
mess of intelligence points. You can even use points to move
along an ability tree and learn more techniques, as well
as improve their effectiveness. Weapons and items in this
game aren't the typical multicolored sword classes you've
come to expect from other games. The weapon designs, especially
in the second half of the game, are genuinely cool and fun
to look at, as are the items and armor. You can also combine
items with enhancers like crystals and skulls, which add
stat bonuses to the items themselves. When using these on
armor, you receive a defensive bonus, such as an intelligence
boost, while wearing it. For items, not only does it add
a special effect to your attacks, but it adds a unique visual
flair. Swinging an electrified spear is fun, but looking
at a knight or berserker dual wielding flaming or frosted
swords just plain looks cool. This gives the game an unprecedented
amount of depth and style, as well as replay value.
The multiplayer in this game is nothing short of fantastic.
Much like dungeon crawling in games like Diablo or Champions
of Norrath, you continue a single-player game with up to
four friends wirelessly (sorry, no infrastructure mode) with
the enemies beefed up to the level of your most powerful
participant. Playing with different classes is extremely
fun and presents a whole new dynamic of co-operation. For
instance, a Berserker can cast a spell which will speed up
the Knight's brutal and powerful attacks, while an Alchemist
snipes with a long-range weapon and synthesizes potions and
dropped items into gold, while a Druid heals the group and
uses an area attack to help get rid of the weaker enemies.
Doubles of classes in a single game and even three or two
player games add a new strategy every time. It also gives
you the opportunity to share and trade items found during
the single player campaign. However, you will find that you
have to keep up with the Joneses, because the less you play,
the more everyone else will, and you'll find yourself on
the short end of the stick. I stopped playing for three days
once, and when I tried multiplayer again, my friends had
jumped ten levels apiece and I was left to catch up. The
beefed-up enemies do give more experience, however, so lower-level
players will gain levels much faster than usual. There are
also conveniently placed menus and markers to keep track
of your teammates. Sadly, there is no head to head versus
play, but that would have been awkward, given the combat
The controls for this game are tight and responsive. The
face buttons are used for different things. The triangle
and circle buttons can be mapped to different spells using
the directional pad, allowing you to cast them on the fly.
The X button is to attack, and the square button is to interact
with objects. Start takes you to an options menu where you
can save your game, look at a map, recall to the town, exit
to the main menu, and other things, while select takes you
to your inventory where you can access your items, weapons,
armor, stats, quest journal, and other menus. The L button
allows you to use healing potions at will. Holding the R
button changes these functions while you are holding it.
While holding R, the triangle button shifts the camera directly
behind you, left and right on the directional pad rotate
the camera, up and down zoom the camera in and out, square
displays an expandable map in the top right corner, circle
blocks attacks, X changes between normal and ranged weapons,
and L uses a magic (mana-restoring) potion. The analog stick
is used to move. The controls may be a little hard to get
into, but they will come naturally after a few minutes of
play. This interface allows you to do most things on the
fly, and is great for multiplayer when you don't want to
spend time customizing every little thing.
The graphics, while not nearly PS2 quality, are
beautiful and crisp. You can notice more detail while zoomed in on
your character, but zoomed out, while showing less detail, is the
best way to play, as you can see enemies from a further distance.
The spell effects are a nice touch, and usually vary a lot in look
and style. Some of the more impressive effects, like the druids Tempest,
really show off the PSP's graphical capabilities. You're also able
to see your weapons and armor from a distance, which is a nice touch.
Looking at friends' items and armor in multiplayer is an experience
that can intimidate new players and impress old ones. The unique
class confinements in the way of armor and weaponry also add to the
visual flair by allowing you to see everyone else's cool items. The
graphics are remarkable, but not jaw-dropping.
The sound in this game is adequate for the game
type. There are no voiceovers, which was a good idea, given the game's
sometimes strange dialogue. There is a full set of player grunts
and cries, enemy screams, magic sounds, and other effects. The music
is usually a small looping file that, while unimpressive, strangely
doesn't get old. It's a pretty standard range of sound effects. Nothing
spectacular, but not disappointing. I just wish the soundtrack was
All in all, Untold Legends may be the deepest game
available for the PSP, but it ultimately depends on your play style.
If you don't mind some repetitive combat and missions, you will find
a nice game in the customization and multiplayer options. This is
a fun game that you could whip out and play with a group of friends,
or even some strangers on the bus, and all in all, it is a fine alternative
to the other games currently out for the PSP. A recommended purchase
for all fans of the franchise. It doesn't bring anything new to the
table, but what it does, it does well.
Playing Hints and Tips
- If you're a low level, find a friend who is
at least twice your level and play with him/her. By killing or even
just hitting your fair share of enemies, you will level up at an
incredible rate. I tried this with a lower-level friend, and he leveled
up eight times within the course of an hour.
- Deliberate when purchasing new weapons or items. Weigh the statistical benefits
against raw power, and be aware that quests usually yield better items than
you can purchase.
- To duplicate items, enter a multiplayer game with a friend. Give him/her
whatever items you wish to duplicate, but do not save. Have your friend save
his/her game, and turn off your PSPs. Turn them back on, and your friend will
still have the items, but since you are loading from the point before you gave
the items to your friend, you will still have them.
- Though there is no way to manually play over the internet, you can tunnel
the game through your PC with programs like XBConnect or XLinkKai.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Not as beautiful as, say, Ridge Racer,
but still good looking and a pleasure to the eyes. It's a
game that you can use to show off the graphical prowess of
While it isn't a fully loaded grand
and orchestral soundtrack, the game's soundtrack and sound
effects suffice for their purpose in immersing you in the
Despite a number of shortcomings, this
game is still a blast to play, especially with friends.
Hands down, the most addictive game
for the PSP (aside from Lumines, of course). You'll be hard
pressed to put this game down with the vast array of things
to do and customize. SOE struck hack-n-slash gold with this