Capcom has once again ported a lackluster console game to the PC. While we may never know why the company chooses not to port its better games, we do know that Chaos Legion is still a repetitive and bland hack-and-slash game on the PC, just as it was on the PlayStation 2.
In the game, you play as a knight named Sieg Warheit, who is tasked with stopping a man named Victor Delacroix from collecting powerful magical artifacts. The two men and these artifacts are linked by past events; Sieg killed Delacroix's lover, and now Delacroix is hoping to use these magical artifacts to bring his beloved back to life, even if it means causing wanton destruction along the way. The game uses cutscenes between missions to advance the plot, but the silly dialogue and convoluted scene direction make following the story more difficult than it needs to be. The cutscenes include decent but unremarkable voice acting, much like the music and other sound in the game.
Unfortunately, Chaos Legion includes many of the same graphical blemishes that marred the experience on the PS2. While the actual character models for Sieg and the monsters are reasonably detailed, the combat animation suffers from some jerkiness, which makes Sieg appear to warp from one strike to the next. Sieg's walking animation is even worse--he appears to moonwalk or glide across the ground rather than take deliberate steps. Other technical issues include heavy fogging that results in noticeable draw-in and mip-mapping problems that create unintentional blurriness and distortion on textured surfaces a short distance away from your point of view. The game also fails from an artistic standpoint--while it attempts to mimic the dark, gothic look of Devil May Cry with its character designs, the environments end up feeling rather drab and uninteresting, with very limited detail.
The gameplay is best described as hack-and-slash, with some basic strategic elements included. Sieg's basic attack is with his sword--using a single button, you can easily execute slashes and strikes that chain together in combination. As you defeat level bosses, you gain crests that you can equip to give you special, more powerful attacks. More importantly, these crests allow you to summon "legions," which are monsters that have their own unique attacks and abilities. You can manage Sieg and the legions well enough using the keyboard, but those with dual-analog controllers will have an easier time playing because the controller makes it easier to manage the camera.
When summoned, the legions act as your sidekicks to help you combat the swarms of enemies you'll need to defeat in each level. Some legions are more suited to fighting organic monsters, while others are better at taking down metallic enemies. Since you can only equip two crests at a time, choosing which of the game's seven legions to use is supposed to be a key strategic element. In practice, you can get away with relying almost exclusively on two of the legions, due to the limited types of enemies you face. After each level, you'll gain experience points based on your performance, which you can spend on upgrades for your legions.
Another lackluster aspect of Chaos Legion is its level design, which consists of linear sequences of arenas. In each arena, you must either defeat all the enemies or kill certain target enemies in order to unlock the next area and advance. Fans of mindless action games probably won't mind, but if you were hoping for some puzzles or interesting areas to explore, Chaos Legion definitely isn't your game. In almost every area, you'll be swarmed by dozens upon dozens of monsters, which can make for some action-packed, frantic moments. The novelty wears off quickly, though, as you summon in the appropriate legions and mash the attack button. By the time you're half done with the game, you've seen just about everything Chaos Legion has to offer. The bosses offer some respite from the rote, as they require you to discover their weak point and dodge their patterns of attack, but even these monsters start to get recycled early on. For a game that's only about five or six hours long, there's surprisingly little variety in the gameplay.
The worst aspect of Chaos Legion actually has nothing to do with the gameplay--it involves getting the game to actually run. Initial shipments of the game apparently included some major problems with the game discs. While the installation goes without a hitch, attempting to launch the game may not work. The application asks that you have disc one inserted, but the application launcher will not recognize either disc. We tried two different copies of the game on three different computers and ran into the same error every time. Other customers have registered the same complaint on Capcom's online message boards. At the time of this writing, the available patch on Capcom's Web site doesn't fix the error, but the company says it is still working on a solution. In order to play the game, we turned to an unsupported, third-party patch that bypasses the game's CD-check routine.
If the problems with getting the game to run weren't enough reason to keep you away from Chaos Legion, then the boring gameplay and graphical shortcomings should be reason enough. Though many may be attracted to the game because of cosmetic similarities to the PS2 hit Devil May Cry, Chaos Legion fails to capture the same magic that led Capcom to coin the phrase "stylish hard action."