Chaos Legion Review
All Style, No Substance
What happens when Capcom combines Devil May Cry with Breath of Fire? The result is a watered-down Devil May Cry pseudo-RPG with little redeeming value. Featuring some superb graphics and music, Chaos Legion otherwise fails when it attempts to integrate RPG elements into a decidedly mindless action game.
The mindless descriptor is apt for the “battle system” in Chaos Legion, as players will quickly find their thoughts elsewhere after smashing the attack button and watching Sieg Wahrheit execute the same four-hit combo for the thousandth time. At least with other action games, such as the aforementioned Devil May Cry, this button-mashing was interspersed with cool-looking moves or a greater variety of weapons. The only signature feature of Chaos Legion is the different “legions” one can summon in battle to aid in the fight against the hordes of unexplained monsters. While the different legions are relatively unique in their abilities none really breathe much life or strategy into the system.
The reason the system fails in this regard is mainly a function of the enemies. While there happens to be a variety of types with slightly different attack patterns, they can all be grouped into simple categories: hordes, giants, and archer-targets. Against the hordes, it is up to player preference as to whether to fight them with Sieg alone or with the aid of legions, with the former mode being a bit quicker since Sieg can move faster and his attacks do more damage when legions are not summoned. Giants require either caution or a specific mode of attack, such as continuously doing jumping attacks, to bring them down. Archer-targets are enemies simply slaughtered by the Malice legion and otherwise take little damage from any other attack. Although the player can equip up to two different legions in each level, the Malice legion pretty much dominates the game from the moment it becomes available. The only real reason to equip any two legions other than Malice and Guilt is to take advantage of their secondary abilities, such as ability to double-jump from the Flawed legion or the Blasphemy legion’s bombs.
For all the endless attacking, the player is awarded experience points and various items, some of which permanently increase stats. The rub is that the player has to actually complete the entire level before they get to keep such items, as there is an option to leave the level prematurely and keep half the experience points they had gained in it thus far. Until later in the game when the ability to replay older levels is gained, this is the only possible way to level-up in this otherwise unbalanced game. Sieg never actually levels up with any of the experience, as it is only useful in upgrading the various legions. Essentially, the player buys higher ranks in a legion’s different attributes, with some adding to the number of legions summoned, some granting new secondary abilities, and others simply raising the legion’s overall attack or defensive power. All of this is managed during the Intermission between stages, which looks relatively impressive but suffers from an annoying pause when attempting to scroll through items or the legions themselves.
Speaking of impressive, that pretty much is Chaos Legion‘s defining characteristic in the audio and visual realm. The presentation is extremely slick with its decidedly gothic, old-world overtones reminiscent of Vagrant Story. To its credit, monster designs and scenery still manage to look good even after the player becomes calloused from killing wave after wave of them. The reason the Intermission slowdown is noteworthy is precisely because there is zero slowdown during all the random slaughter of scores of individual enemies during the game. The fighting is accompanied and complimented with some gothic techno that thankfully varies enough between stages so as to remain only nominally repetitive throughout the 15-20 hours it takes to slog through the game.
And slog one will, as the plot makes no attempt to offer any particularly compelling reason to revisit the game, or to even complete it the first time. The story supposedly details the dark past of Sieg and Victor Delacroix, former friend and Sephiroth clone. Victor has killed a priest of the shady religious order they both were a part of, and Victor has decided to up the ante by killing everyone in the entire world. The player will quite often endure several hours and stages worth of button-smashing before given even the tiniest of hints as to the purpose of the game, and ending the game leaves more questions than answers. One such question will certainly be “Why did I play this game?” The answer to that can only be made by the individual, but it will almost always have nothing at all to do with Chaos Legion‘s plot or ultimate value as a piece of entertainment.
Indeed, the final lesson one can learn from Chaos Legion is how to construct a pseudo-RPG badly. Between the monotonous battling, the unbalanced difficulty of some of the battles, and the fact that there is absolutely nothing else of any merit other than battling, results in quite a waste of an interesting setting and some excellent visuals. Chaos Legion fails as not only an RPG, but also as an action game. RPGamers looking for a good genre hybrid will be well-advised to look elsewhere.