Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade Hands-on

We hack our way through Sony Online Entertainment's original third-person-action RPG.

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LAS VEGAS--Sony Online Entertainment unveiled a playable work-in-progress version of its recently announced PSP title, Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade, at Sony's recent press event today in Las Vegas. The hack-and-slash fantasy-themed game is an original creation being developed in-house at SOE, and it charges you with saving Aven, the last bastion of good in a world consumed by evil. You're part of the Brotherhood of the Blade, a group of heroes who have banded together to stop evil in its tracks. As is usually the case in these types of situations, saving the world will involve much hacking, slashing, collecting of items, and leveling up. Despite the unfinished state of the game, Untold Legends appears to be well on point to offer all of the above with flashy style on the PSP.

The early level that was playable gave us a taste of the ambitious portable game's scale, with a sampling of the different elements that make up Untold Legend's gameplay. Anyone who's familiar with SOE's Champions of Norrath should be right at home with Untold Legends, as the game handles like a pint-sized cousin to the excellent EverQuest-inspired action RPG. Your hero can be one of four available classes, each with its own unique spells and abilities. You'll be able to play as a member of an ancient order of knights, an alchemist, a druid, or a wildling, a race of feral hunters. You'll have melee and magic attacks that you can customize via a spell ring. You'll also have buttons assigned that will let you use your health and magic restoration items during the heat of battle. You'll have an onscreen minimap that you can toggle as an overlay in the center of your screen or shrink down to an unobtrusive size in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.

As with most action RPGs, Untold Legends will throw a hefty amount of levels your way; SOE is saying more than 100 levels. But, to try to help ensure that the experience won't be a repetitive drag, the game will randomly generate the areas in which you'll be fighting evil. As a result, you can expect to find a healthy amount of varied loot every time you go through an area. Randomly generated areas aside, Untold Legends will have a story that will unfold over the course of 26 main quests. For RPG fans who obsess over variables in their adventure, there will be an additional 20 side quests for players to go on for extra fun. For the action gamer, SOE has thrown in 150 types of monsters and a tough selection of bosses to hack and slash in your quests to protect Aven. If all this wasn't enough already, SOE has thrown in the medieval kitchen sink and included Wi-Fi multiplayer support for up to four players for some Gauntlet-style action.

The graphics in the Untold Legends are coming together very nicely. The game uses the overhead perspective that has become a staple of the genre, and which allowed the art team to go town and create rich, fully 3D environments that are pleasing to the eye. The character models appeared to be in various states of completion, but they still animated smoothly. Obviously, your hero will be the slickest of the bunch, but some nicely done animation helps your foes shine too. While not yet complete, this portable hack-and-slasher features some nice spell effects that are impressive flourishes to the action.

Based on our initial look, Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade is definitely shaping up to be a promising PSP launch game. The good visuals and accessible gameplay form a strong foundation that's enhanced by the multiplayer options. Given Untold Legends' unique status as what likely will be the only PSP action RPG available at launch, the game should most certainly be worth some time when it ships alongside the PSP. Look for more on the game soon.

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