A review of Chaos Legion

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Produced by Capcom, Chaos Legion is a hack’n’slash action adventure backed by a complex plot. It has many good ideas, interesting graphics and sprite design and reasonable action. However it also has severe flaws, and fails to live up to its initial promise. It is one of the very few action games where I actually got bored during gameplay.

The plot is strong, although in some ways fairly basic. Sieg Warheit and Victor Delacroix are friends. Legionaters: warriors who can summon Legions from the souls of slain enemies, effectively making them one-man armies. When the woman he loves dies, Victor blames Sieg and goes on a quest to end the world so he can be reunited with her in death. Why he didn’t  kill himself and needs to destroy the entire world was never adequately explained, although to be fair he is insane. He steals Sieg’s Legions and begins his slaughter, leaving Sieg to try to regain his powers and stop his former friend.

It’s not a bad premise for a game.  However little of the complex backstory is revealed during the first half of the game, and it only really kicks off right before the last boss fight. During the game itself the plot and action elements stand seperately and there is little integration between them, which can leave the game in a repetitive cycle as each cut scene simply sets up the next group of enemies to slaughter. Unfortunately although the hack and slash is generally well-realised there is little else to the game – there are rarely targets, no missions or stealth assignments as such and everything is solved simply by killing everything on screen.

The Legions themselves are crucial to the combat system. When each enemy dies, Sieg gathers its energy and when he has enough he can summon Legions to fight along side him. Named Guilt, Malice, Flawed etc, each type of legion has its own skills, for example shielding Sieg, fighting independantly, ranged attacks, etc. At any one time, you can only summon one type of Legion and a maximum of five of that legion. The problem is that the Legions have poor AI and a tendency to get hung up on the scenery, or fail to fight when they are being attacked.

Most of Chaos Legion involves wading through and destroying hordes of summoned enemies in the locations that Victor has invaded in his mad quest. Since everything in the game revolves around fighting, this could still work if the action gameplay is good. Unfortunately, there are no real strategy elements as the enemies have little AI, and simply charge. As a result the game often descends into button hammering, and lacks the range of attacks to make prolonged combat interesting. On the later levels it falls prey to repeated re-use of enemy designs in different colours, but retains exactly the same method of defeating them, making the game very repetitive. The sound effects during gameplay are limited, though the cut sequences have reasonable background music and effects.

One major fault is that the game is rather linear. There is usually only one route to complete each level. Very little of the scenery is interactive and there are not many hidden items or secrets.  Unfortunately to defeat the major bosses you need to gain additional experience, which you can only gain by replaying levels. This means you can spend some time running through exactly the same route and fighting exactly the same enemies. The game also has no subquests, and only one major optional quest for players to complete: to find the fifth legion, Death.

Graphically Chaos Legion could have been (and in places is) an extremely good looking game. The graphics are generally well done, and the sprite designs are extremely original. Many of the later enemies are recoloured sprites from earlier levels, but given the complexity of the sprite design this is forgiveable. The problem lies in the colour scheme: Chaos Legion is coloured in muted earth tones, which gives a realistic feel to the ruins you walk through but this palette is also used for enemies and Legions. Sometimes the only feature that stands out on screen is Sieg’s red hair. Unfortunately he can often be hidden behind terrain, Legions or enemies making it difficult to locate him. Also, due to the sheer number of sprites on screen, it can be difficult to tell where your Legions are or what they are doing.

The poor AI for Legions and enemies is one drawback, but it is something a good player can get used to. However, the major issue that really damages the game is the collision and positioning detection. It is flawed to the extent that sprites stand on thin air, shoot through solid walls, and fall through the edges of platforms. This is a significant problem, extremely frustrating for the player, and badly affects the gameplay. As it affects every sprite throughout the entire game, whether Legions, enemies or Sieg himself it can be difficult to work round.

In summary this game is one for action fanatics or completists. Good graphics and an interesting storyline fail to compensate for poor AI and clipping issues. The combat action is brutal, but lacks the strategy and variety to hold a player’s interest long term. The real pity is that with its premise and action it could have been great. Instead it is simply replaying the same levels, fighting enemies who are defeated the same way, while hampered by poor controls, AI and graphical issues. It should take between ten and twenty hours to finish, but has little replay value due to the lack of variety or side quests.

It’s worth a look if you find it on budget, but probably would not appeal to RPG fans and takes a lot of patience to play.

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