PSP Review: Untold Legends - Warrior's Code

A surprise hit out of the gate for Sony's PSP, Untold Legends offered decent gameplay with a completely lacking presentation. Bombarded with a story told through text, abysmal music, and simplistic multi-player, it's not a game that fared well with critics. The sequel, Warrior's Code, tries to fix everything without upgrading the now dry action.

Part of the original game's problem was the randomly generated levels. They rarely felt like they were designed with the gamer in mind, containing dead ends with no purpose, long corridors to nowhere, and the occasional exit where no exit should be. Even with pre-designed dungeons, Warriors Code still has some of the main issues.

You'll hack your way through a nicer variety of enemies this time, but stage design isn't particularly fun. There is no zoomed-out map to see more of whatever location you're in, so it leads to mindless wandering around previously visited rooms. It's even worse when these rooms are separated by a two or three minute walk. That's a lot of time wasted revisiting places you have no reason going back to, and causes the length to extend past the point of fun quickly.

Finding weapons, leveling up, and combat have barely changed at all. The new option in fighting, "Attack of Opportunity," is poorly implemented. Meant to be one hard shot to do a ton of damage, the timing, distance, and reaction time required to pull it off make it nearly impossible to do with any regularity. You'll be more likely to do higher amounts of damage by jabbing on the X button rapidly like you do in every other moment in the game.

Production values have been mercifully given a boost, with defined characters, pre-rendered cinemas, and voice acting. It's jarring to see the character designs inside a game that tries to be serious. The over-exaggerated caricatures don't blend at all with the dimly lit dungeons.

Online play has been added too, and instead of only allowing some four-player cooperative play, you can also partake in some versus modes like capture the flag. Balancing is the largest problem here since anyone can use their customized characters at will. Thankfully, the lobby lets you know who you're joining, so you can make sure you're not getting into something you won't be able to handle.

Complaints aside, Warrior's Code does expand the universe for fans, probably enough that the announced Playstation 3 version will fit in nicely. The generic dungeon crawl action hasn't changed, so fans of new swords, character classes, and selling things to merchants will have some fun. Whether or not the enjoyment holds for the entire game is a test of your dedication.

(*** out of *****)

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