What's the game about: With Legendary: The Box, developer Spark Unlimited puts a somewhat modern spin on the classic Thief series (storywise). Deckard, our hero, is hired to steal a precious artifact. What he doesn't realize is that he's unintentionally opened the real Pandora's Box. Now, an unprepared modern world has to fight werewolves, gryphons, and a whole bunch of mythological beasties in this first-person shooter.
What's new for E3: Considering that the design team's roots stem from the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series, it's not much of a surprise that this game's two-level demo gets goosed with some dramatically scripted sequences. When you open the box, chaos erupts in Manhattan. The Met gets ripped asunder, and evil blasts its way back into the world while you sprint out the door. You're running through the preplanned destruction as though you're on the Universal Studios tram ride. Basically, you're at the center of this major world-changing event because you're the dumbass who opened Pandora's Box...and your signet-marked ass is the only one that can close it.
Click the image above to check out all Legendary: The Box screens.
What we like: What's getting us jazzed is the premise: bullets versus tooth and claw. Upon escaping the initial meltdown, you're squaring off against a secret society and a gang of legendary creatures. So, for example, in a European cathedral firefight, you're getting tactical against a conventional foe, then suddenly a feral pack of werewolves breaks through the stained-glass ceiling, tearing through everyone and leaping from ceiling to wall. (Apparently, later in the game your ultimate enemy gains control of Pandora's Box, which means you'll be fighting off the coordinated attacks of both beastie and bullet-throwing baddies). One thing that the team stressed is that, yes, short, scripted sequences introduce the new creatures, but the A.I. will quickly take over so that you don't get that Disneyland Jungle Ride feel. ("Uh-oh! Here comes that mechanical rhino that's been doing the same damn thing since 1960. Yawn.") Also, creatures know their own strengths. So, let's say you're on the streets of Manhattan trying to escape a flock of gryphons. You see them plucking the odd passerby off the ground in a feeding frenzy, but then they eyeball you. You instinctively run inside a nearby building. To pursue you, the gryphons will eventually break a window or attempt to charge through a wall after a few failed attempts to pursue you through a narrow doorway.
What we dislike: Not knowing what Spark Unlimited has up its sleeve for multiplayer. On the one hand, it could produce some magnificent gunplay-versus-creatures deathmatching, where one side stalks prey (a la The Hidden: Source mod for Half-Life 2). On the other, it could be something saved for the sequel. While the team is being coy and doesn't want to spill all the details at once, it'd be nice to know that piece of the puzzle. Otherwise, the name is killing us! "Legendary: The Box?" Really? All right, aside, we're anxious to see how this game develops. We'll take Spark at its word that most of the game is A.I. driven (save for the odd scripted sequence), but we won't know for certain until March 2008 when the game ships on both the 360 and PC.