Untold Legends: The Warriors' Code
Online play and all handcrafted dungeons? Sign us up...
Sony Online Entertainment's 2005 hit Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade was a big hit for a couple of different reasons. For one it filled a major void in the portable gaming category. Gamers finally had a portable hack n' slash dungeon crawler with good depth. The other reason for its success was simply because it was a pretty damned good game. It wasn't spectacular, and came under some fire from critics for its repetitiveness and a general lack of style, but it still proved to be an addictive experience nonetheless.
It's a horribly cliche preview statement to make, but Untold Legends II: The Warrior's Code really does seem to fix all the things SOE and consumers didn't like about its predecessor. With so many improvements being made in just this first sequel, its almost scary to think about what SOE has in mind for future Untold Legends iterations.
Warrior's Code boasts five character classes, compared to the original's four. SOE has noted that all five are brand new, and while this is technically true, they're essentially just tweaks of existing RPG arch-types. Available are mercenaries (paladins), disciples (mages), guardians (tank), prowler (ranger), and scout (archer). Characters are now much more customizable, with a massive number of skin tones, hairstyles, clothing, and hair colors available to choose from.
Additionally, characters from all five classes hail from a race of changelings, giving each the ability to morph into a unique (and uber powerful) animal form for a short period of time, by spending the "essence" collected from downed foes.
The game's most noticeable change has been its new art style (some would say the franchise has finally gotten an art style). Although characters aren't super-deformed, this time around they were designed with style in mind, instead of anatomical correctness. Guardians have impossibly huge muscles and tiny heads, disciples are rail-thin, etc. These exaggerated forms carry over to enemy design as well. All-told the look gives Warrior's Code a much more memorable aesthetic.
The graphical engine itself was also rebuilt, which contributes significantly to game's new visual richness. Dynamic lighting is now present game-wide, as well as an impressive particle system. Animation has also been beefed up, eliminating the sometimes-awkward movements found in the first game.
SOE also gave the combat engine a lot of attention, building upon the original's fun, albeit simplistic, base. Charge attacks have been implemented, as well as what the game refers to as "attacks of opportunity." There are presented when the enemy makes an error gives players a, well, "opportunity" to perform special actions to deal bonus damage, evade an attack, or otherwise gain the upper hand.
The magic system has also been refined and bulked up, while also being somewhat demystified. All magic spells are now sorted into one of 12 magic categories, with no "branching" present. Multiple advancements can be made within each magic category, but you don't need to advance one category of your magic to a minimum level to progess in another.
While all the gameplay and graphical enhancements are certainly welcome, most welcome of all is the game's significant new multiplayer features. What makes Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code a killer app is its online multiplayer options. The original Untold Legends featured a fun multiplayer mode, but its not easy getting four PSPs and four copies of the game together. Online play now eliminates all those multiplayer limits.
Gamers can go through the single-player storyline cooperatively with another gamer, or face off in competitive battles with up to three other human combatants.
Featuring a voice-acted narrative, hand-crafted dungeons, and numerous cutscenes in addition to all the game's other improvements, The Warrior's Code looks to bring portable hack 'n slash adventuring even further out of the ghetto when it is released later this month.