Gauntlet Legends: Dark Legacy Hands-On

Midway's upcoming Gauntlet Legends: Dark Legacy is a much-improved version of the arcade game, featuring new characters, levels, and a deeper control scheme.

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Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
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Anyone familiar with the venerable Gauntlet franchise can attest to its games' simplicity and pick-up-and-play nature. Though the game has seen several revisions through the years, the gameplay has always remained the same: You trudge your way through an enormous battlefield, smiting monsters that attack from all sides, and collect large amounts of treasure. But instead of churning out a cut-and-dried arcade-to-console port, Midway has decided to spruce up Dark Legacy's PS2 release by including a handful of console-only features.

The most notable feature added to the console port is the combo-based control scheme. In lieu of a single attack button that controls both hand-to-hand and ranged attacks, Midway has implemented a light combo system that's centered on combining quick weak attacks and slow powerful attacks. It's possible to string together up to five hits in any one combo by unleashing a flurry of weak attacks followed by one strong attack. The PS2 version also lets you block enemy attacks and even lets you strafe around enemy characters to dodge their attacks. These additions add a small hint of strategy to the otherwise straightforward classic Gauntlet gameplay. But these additions aside, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy plays exactly like Gauntlet: Legends. Not only will you use your standard hand-to-hand and ranged attacks to dispatch the hordes of enemies about you, but you'll also have access to powerful magic. In keeping with the series' legacy, magic potions that grant you powerful screen-clearing magical attacks are scattered throughout the maps. Each of the different character types has a different level of proficiency with magic; the sorceress wields a pretty hefty charge, while the dwarf's magic is rather weak in comparison. Additionally, you can use potions to erect a magical shield around your character by hitting the magic button twice in a quick succession, or you can lob them at distant enemies, which produces a grenadelike effect. Like in Gauntlet: Legends, each character has a turbo attack, which is governed by a meter that gradually fills as you play. Once your turbo gauge is full, you'll be able to unleash a different type of graphically spectacular and powerful attack, depending on your turbo level. Not only is your turbo gradually replenished over time, but it can also be filled from special power-ups scattered throughout the world.

Dark Legacy features a total of eight characters--four of them are entirely new and four return from Gauntlet: Legends. Unfortunately, the new character classes--the knight, jester, sorceress, and dwarf--just seem like altered versions of the previous characters, with shiny new attack effects thrown in for distinction. Still, the character designs are interesting enough, and they should be a refreshing addition for fans of the series. Each of the eight character classes has a secret alternate skin that is unlocked during play. This should provide a decent incentive for players to trudge on.

Gauntlet Legends: Dark Legacy is 60 levels long, and the levels are divided up into 11 worlds. With all of the worlds from the original Gauntlet Legends on top of the all-new ones, Dark Legacy seems like a pretty robust offering. Each of the worlds has its own boss who commands a hefty population of monsters. The game sports 117 different types of monsters in total, including weaker and stronger variants of basic enemies and the secret-guarding gargoyles.

Midway is stressing that Gauntlet Legends: Dark Legacy is much more than a simple arcade port, and the host of new features included in the game are evidence of this. While the game is still, in all respects, a Gauntlet game, it's sure to be the biggest and most refined home version seen yet. Gauntlet Legends: Dark Legacy is slated for release this May.

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