Legion has many sound concepts, but just about everything falls apart in the execution, resulting in a game that runs the gamut from frustrating to just plain terrible.
Legion first surfaced in late 1999. The original interviews and information about it pegged it as a real-time strategy game with some action and role-playing elements. Now, close to three years later, a very different Legion is upon us. The multiplayer elements that the development team at 7 Studios spoke of are gone, and the entire game has been retooled to focus more on action, with some very light strategy and role-playing elements thrown in for good measure. Legion has many sound concepts, but just about everything falls apart in the execution, resulting in a game that runs the gamut from frustrating to just plain terrible.
The game is a retelling of the story of King Arthur, Excalibur, and the Knights of the Round Table. At the outset, you'll play as Arthur immediately before he claims the sword Excalibur and becomes king. As you progress through the game's storyline, you'll run into characters who eventually join the round table in your quest to avenge your father's death at the hands of your evil sister, Morgan Le Fay. Throughout the game you'll battle Le Fay's armies of warriors, both living and undead, as you try to accomplish a series of objectives. Some levels merely ask you to defeat a boss at the end. Others get a little more involved and command you to protect a village or specific person from harm. Some ask you to do both, which is where the game's strategic elements come into play.
Unfortunately, Legion's first two levels don't have any of that strategy and play more like a needlessly difficult version of Midway's recent Gauntlet Legends games. With only Arthur at your command and with only a couple of uncontrollable swordsmen by your side, you'll have to make your way past a lot of enemies, oftentimes without any hope of healing yourself of any wounds you sustain. This forces you to constantly worry about your health meter and let your nonplayer characters do most of the fighting. Since they're pretty weak, though, this then gives way to a hit-and-run poking game, forcing you to move in, hit an enemy once or twice, and retreat before the enemy retaliates, over and over again. You're left with introductory levels so bad that it's difficult to imagine the rest of the game being any better.
After you get through the atrociously bad opening levels and meet your next playable character, you'll have the ability to command multiple characters. The most basic strategy is to merely command your entire army to follow you around, which creates for you a large posse of swordsmen and archers to take out enemies almost automatically. But breaking up your group lets you be in two places at once. So you can position your archers in a village and put them on guard, while Arthur and his swordsmen roam the countryside to find the level's boss. You can issue a few different commands to your other characters. This lets you set up characters to guard positions or other characters or to simply follow you around and engage any enemies that approach. Eventually you'll be able to take up to four main characters out at once, and each can be joined by up to four nonplayable grunts, giving you four different groups to command and control. However, the characters at your disposal aren't very smart. They'll get stuck behind buildings or caught on corners of things fairly often. This is annoying, but it can have strategic consequences as well. For instance, if your healer gets caught behind a building, he'll cast healing spells in your direction, only to have them blocked by the building, effectively wasting his stamina casting useless spells.