Mediocre (adj.): 1. Of middling Quality; neither bad nor good; indifferent. 2. Legend of Legaia; Sony Computer Entertainment’s latest RPG for the PlayStation.
A Tale of the Game that Almost Was
What do you get when you mix good intentions with bad execution? You get Sony’s latest entry into the RPG genre: Legend of Legaia. From the graphics to the battle system nothing about this game will make you stand up and take notice.
Tie a Ra-Seru Round the Genesis Tree
Legend of Legaia’s plot is amazingly cliche even though the story is quite original. It’s about a world where humans are aided by symbiotic creatures called Seru. These Seru, gifts from God, would bond to humans and enhance strength and other attributes allowing the civilization to prosper. However, one day an ominous mist rolls in and any Seru touched by the Mist goes mad and starts attacking the humans, while any human wearing a Seru at the time became a horrible monster. Enter a young boy, Vahn, from the small village of Rim Elm, protected from the Mist by its high walls. One day Rim Elm is attacked by the requisite evil henchman and, in a panic, Vahn runs to the town square where he is contacted by a mystical holy Ra-Seru. The Ra-Seru tells him to revive the nearby Genesis tree to get rid of the Mist, and after a few quick fights he does just that. The evil guy retreats as does the Mist, and Vahn (prodded by his new Ra-Seru armguard) decides to go on a quest to rid the world of the Mist. Along the way he meets a naive young girl named Noa, and an ascetic monk, Gala, who join up with him to help destroy the source of the Mist. Are we experiencing Deja Vu yet? Perhaps it’s because the plot sounds like any number of RPG plotlines, albeit with a new facade. It was a really disappointing excuse for a story.
Speak or Forever Hold Your Peace
The dialogue in LoL is sub-par as well. Granted it is a translation, but would someone please do run the damn thing through a spell or grammar checker? I’m sure it wouldn’t take that long. I’ve seen better translation jobs come out of the local 7-11 manager! Fortunately they left in the original Japanese voices, but they were basically only grunts and groans during the battle scenes (some darn fine grunting and groaning, however). I know I lost some brain cells due to atrophy on this game.
My Mother the Triangle
The graphics in Legaia are also less than interesting. Done completely in polygons, usually the PSX’s strongpoint, there was some serious lack of effort to make this world look even CLOSE to real. Everything from the rocks to the trees looks completely untextured and phony, and without being able to change camera angles you can’t be sure if something is a flower or a dress. And, while the character animations are done all right, the enemies are more often than not merely pallet-swapped versions of previous enemies (and I thought Mortal Kombat was getting redundant!) There are a few short CG scenes in the game, but nothing breathtaking, and the spells are rather tame compared to other RPGs. If you’re looking for eye candy, look elsewhere.
Kill the Music (please!)
Music in Legaia is truly unremarkable seeing as how most of the tunes are either soft mood music or fast pseudo-dance tracks (none of which stuck me as particularly notable). However I did notice something and, after a little checking to make sure I wasn’t just hallucinating, I confirmed that one of the tracks entitled Cara’s Theme is the exact same one as the sad music from Alundra. Apparently the production team borrowed the piece from the composer of Alundra and stuck it in the game. I guess one could reason that they couldn’t even do all their own music, if one was so inclined to do so.
King of Copy-Fighters
The Battle Engine in LoL was the most ambitious, but it fell short of any greatness. The idea is much like in Xenogears where you enter button combinations and then the computer has your characters fight and pull off special moves depending on what combos you enter. The only downside is that it’s not at all original. In fact, it’s almost a direct copy off of Xenogears’ engine so I have to give it ANOTHER thumbs down for unoriginality. While the overall control of the characters is fair, running is a pain even with the auto-run feature on. The menus are laid out quite well, so I guess I can be thankful for that.
Totally Mist the Mark
With poor plot, graphics, sound, and gameplay, Legend of Legaia comes up short in the fun department. There is really nothing here to elicit even a second glance from any gamer, and unless you’re a die-hard must-have-every-RPG-on-earth type person, I seriously suggest you rent before you buy.