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Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code

For: PSP

Tackle a universe-threatening warlord in an 'absolutely never heard this one before' legend

Product: Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code | Publisher: Ubisoft | Developer: Sony Online Entertainment | Format: PSP | Genre: RPG | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: US
Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code PSP, thumbnail 1
We're creatures of habit. In surveys, the thing most regularly cited as people's greatest fear for the future is change. From the type of toothpaste we buy each month through to which toilet cubicle we usually visit at work, we like repetition, familiarity and the warm comfort of knowing what to expect.

And this works in Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code's favour, as it, the sequel to Sony's launch PSP hack 'n slash role-playing game, does little to move away from the genre's firmly-established framework.

Similarly, its relentlessly repetitious gameplay sees you cutting and nicking your way through hordes of enemies with little need to change or adapt tactics throughout the game.

While such lack of innovation is often cited as a harsh negative in videogame reviews, in Warrior's Code it's partly excusable as the developer is clearly aiming for refinement and improvement over its first effort. And, on this score at least, it's mostly successful.

The story is here more fully-formed, with passable voice acting colouring in the space within the narrative outline. Gently touching on themes of racism and ethnic cleansing, Untold Legends tells the tale of a kingdom overtaken by a monstrous warlord. Changelings, a race of shape-shifting creatures of which your character is one, refuse to join his ranks and so are on the emperor's hit list.

In short, you decide to fight back to try to put an end to the terror.

You initially choose between five character classes, each with two specific strengths and two specific weaknesses, as well as the more obvious visual distinctions of body type, features and weaponry.

Once happy with your appearance, it's time to tackle various sprawling dungeons charged with challenges ranging from fetching items to escorting people from location to location, all the while fighting your way through the various enemies that fall over themselves to stop you.

Central to any hack 'n slash style role-playing game is the combat, and here the mechanics are tried-and-tested.

Two main types of attacks are available to each character: close and long range. Basic melee stabs and chops are performed by smashing your way through the X button, while holding it down for a few seconds triggers a charge attack. A counterattack can also be slipped into play by taking advantage of an enemy's momentary vulnerability after they launch their own assaults. However, as is so often the case with games of this ilk, the subtleties are completely optional to success, and blindly mashing the melee button will enable a determined player to dive through the game.

Characters develop by gaining experience from each kill. Every time you level-up you're given three general points to add to attributes and a specific one to either acquire new or upgrade current abilities. Up to six of these can be equipped to characters, and they are key to success later in the game – both online and in single-player.

Likewise, depth to combat is added by your character's shape-shifting ability (each downed foe releases some essence which fills your shapeshift meter), something which, when triggered, momentarily improves your strength and speed. While extremely useful in the early stages of the game, this feature soon takes a back seat as your standard abilities and proficiency with ever-more powerful weapons make its use largely redundant.

Aesthetically, the game distinguishes itself from the competition with anime-inspired overblown designs; while the scenes and vistas are far from jaw-dropping, they serve the game's purpose well. Similarly, the inoffensive score washes around the gameplay, doing little to make itself noticed.

But the area with the most improvements over its precursor is the multiplayer aspect of the game, which facilitates play with or against other live gamers, both locally and over the internet. As well as the co-op mission play, the usual competitive game options – Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, and Last Man Standing – are all present for up to four players.

Untold Legends is essentially a tweaked package, offering nothing particularly inspired nor inspiring. Its repetitive gameplay and inoffensive presentation won't elevate it above its rivals, but neither does it do anything ugly enough to push itself below their recommendation.

This is a tired, base genre and, while Sony has worked here to breathe some life into it, underneath all the generous character classes, multiplayer options and single-player campaign, Untold Legends is a shallow game, repetitious to the point of monotony.

Untold Legends is on sale now – click here to buy.
Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code
Reviewer photo
Simon Parkin | 30 June 2006
The basics are creatively executed, but, while enjoyable, the resultant experience falls far short of reinventing anything – let alone brilliance
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