Gauntlet Dark Legacy
The spirit of Gauntlet lives on. Anyone in their late twenties/early thirties will remember the four-player arcade cabinets that found their way into the arcades and snooker halls in the '80s. Offering superb four player gaming action the game became a legend in the world of arcade games. Since then of course the game has come to various consoles over the years and with each version there have been slight variations on the original game. Gauntlet Dark Legacy, for me, makes a welcome return to the style of the original arcade game.
The game takes place in a land of eight realms. The overseer of these realms is a wizard by the name of Sumner. His younger brother Garm became jealous of his brother's power and status and decided to seek out the thirteen legendary Rune Stones which would give him the power to take on Sumner. After only finding eight of the Runes, Garm became impatient and decided to experiment. Unwittingly Garm released the demon Skorne, Ruler of the Underworld into the land of the eight realms. Without all the Runes Garm couldn't control Skorne. It is upto you alone or you and your companions to send Skorne back from whence he came.
The controls have been kept simple and the game benefits from this. Turbo attacks, quick attacks, slow attacks and magic spells are all a breeze to perform. When you're playing the game with friends it is even possible to perform combo attacks to devastate your enemies. Throughout the many levels, there are 60 in all, you'll find masses of player power-ups, invisibility, turbo boost etc. as well as weapon power-ups such as 3-way shot and thunder hammer. These temporary boosts to your abilities serve to give you powerful variations in your attacks and help get you through the sticky parts. You will come across simple puzzles, the flick of the switch to lower platform variety, but there is nothing difficult to block your progress.
Whilst collecting the Rune stones is your main objective, you'll have to collect various other objects in to progress in the game. A specific number of gate crystals must be collected in order to open the path to other realms. Potions, golden items and treasure can all be of immense benefit to you. There are also legend items that can be collected and will help you in your fight.
There are a staggering 50 playable characters within the game. Initially there are only eight that are available, with the 42 hidden characters just waiting to be found. Wizard, Warrior, Valkyrie, Archer, Sorceress, Dwarf, Knight and Jester are all available initially to be played. The enemies include such beasties as Grunts, Golems, Gargoyles and of course Skorne and Garm.
One area which will disappoint most is the graphics. The game doesn't look anything like you would expect a XBOX title to. The low polygon count in both the characters and backdrops is disappointing but doesn't harm the gameplay. Spells and attacks graphical effects are OK but again they are less than you would expect from the XBOX. It would have been nice for the game to have been more visually appealing.
Virtually all verbal information is shown in text. There is not too much in the way of speech. An announcer will remark on such things as an increase in the level of a player, or the obtaining of a specific spell and all this is shown in text. We did notice one or two omissions but it was of little consequence and nothing important was missed.
Of course under the thin veil of a plot we all know that Gauntlet is a hack 'n' slash experience, no more no less. Where it has always scored with gamers is the fact that as a co-operative experience it rises above most other games. Gauntlet Dark Legacy is no exception and whilst the single player game is just about OK, and on some levels nigh on impossible, it is when you have a friend or two accompanying you that the true character of the game emerges and yes it still has that old multiplayer magic. If we were to rate the game as a single player game it would score about a six to completely honest. However, after playing the game as it was meant to be played, as a multiplayer game, it changed our opinion. We are aware that some gaming websites have furnished the game with sub 50% scores and our reply to that is that they haven't played the game in the company of friends. Bear this in mind because if you've someone to play your games with Gauntlet Dark Legacy is a very enjoyable title.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10 Played with friends Gauntlet Dark Legacy is tremendous fun.
Deaf Gamers comment: Virtually every piece of verbal information is given in text.