Review by Toger
If you're under 40, skip the next paragraph because it probably
won't make much sense to you ...
Okay, let me get this out of my system... when I originally heard
about Legacy: Dark Shadows, I immediately thought of the
late 60s Gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. I was all atwitter!
Who doesn't want a game about vampire Barnabas Collins and poor,
clueless Victoria Clark? (Back when Dark Shadows aired,
I made sure I was home from school in time to catch each and every
episode.) Well, let me be the one to burst your bubbleLegacy:
Dark Shadows has nothing whatsoever to do with the soap opera.
If it's not about vampires, then what's the game about? Private
investigator Ren Silver's journalist friend, Ted, has been kidnapped
while researching a story. It's up to Ren, and you, to discover
who'd want to take Ted hostage and why. In playing Legacy,
it was obvious the developers had a fondness for science fiction
movies. Not only did the game evoke the essence of Blade Runner,
but there were also hints of The Fifth Element, Johnny
Mnemonic and Alien peppered throughout.
Croatia-based Razbor Studios' freshman effort opens in 1941 Stalingrad
during World War II. After a short, stilted conversation between
two Russian soldiers and a bit of player-controlled wandering
about the trenches, you're treated to a head scratchinducing
cutscene, at which point you're suddenly catapulted almost two
hundred years into the future in time to watch Ren arrive on Mars
for a much-needed vacation.
Gameplay is mouse-driven, traditional point-and-click with a
third-person perspective. Those who suffer from the motion sickness
caused by the 360-degree panning of some games can take heart
from the fact that Legacy doesn't have any panning; it
does, however, include a slow scroll as Ren walks from one side
of the screen to another. Most actions are accomplished with left-clicks
of the mousedirecting Ren about the landscape, looking at
or picking up various inventory objects, chatting up people that
you meetwhile a right-click will open Ren's inventory, where
you can view her log or take a closer look at current inventory
items. The inventory also includes three permanent objects that
are essential to any private investigator: a camera, evidence
containers and a handy little device that Ren uses to unlock doors.
Theoretically, a double left-click will cause Ren to run... I
say "theoretically" because I could only convince Ren
to step up the pace once. All subsequent efforts to hurry her
along were met with the same languid footsteps she always took.
(I guess she just wasn't in the mood.)
Legacy's puzzles consist mainly of using the correct inventory
item at the proper time or helping various characters that you'll
meet in your travels. You'll only run into two or three stand-alone
or logic puzzles in the entire game.
Graphically, Legacy is ... charmingly old school. Backgrounds
are nicely rendered in 2D; with the entire world displaying a
bleak, postapocalyptic feelflying cars, huge neon signs,
dark and gritty landscape, and it always seems to be raining;
at least on Earth it's raining. The rain effects were quite nice,
especially with some of the overhead, cinematic shots or when
a taxi is hovering for a landing and blowing exhaust, mixed with
steam, billows into the air.
I'll admit the opening sequence wasn't especially awe-inspiring.
I've not seen such pixelated character models since the VGA days.
Once the opening sequence ended, character models improved. Ren
does have an odd way of walkingever notice how Barbie dolls
are hinged at the hip to make their legs move?that's how
Ren walks ... it's very disconcerting at first, but I got
used to it. She also does a little two-step dance when you come
back from a close-up view of an object.
If you're expecting state-of-the-art graphics in all of your
games, you may be disappointed with Legacycutscenes
are motion-captured, but they're also very grainy. Some characters'
lips move during conversations, while others just nod their heads
as they talked. Lip-synching to speech isn't a deal-breaker for
me, so I pretty much ignored that whole issue.
I did run into the age-old problem of inventory items blending
so well with the static backgrounds that they were practically
indistinguishable from everything else. Luckily, most inventory
items can be found not too far from where they're used, so there's
not a huge amount of backtracking needed if you suddenly find
yourself without a necessary item.
Legacy's voice work is ... um ... oh, let me just say
itbad. Based on the credits, there are only a handful of
voice actors, which would mean that they did double duty on the
voices ... no big deal, happens all the time, right? Um ... to
differentiate the voices, some of the actors pitched their voices
so high they sounded like cartoon characters. Or they changed
the voice or accent mid-conversation. Let's not even discuss the
pseudo-Southern accent for one character. And then there's the
issue of being able to tell when they were in a soundproof studio
or when they were, perhaps, standing in a stairwell.
On the other hand, Ren's voice work was nicely done. It was suitably
world-weary, yet she was still able to make little jokes about
some of the things that she sawclick on a giant sewer rat
and Ren asks, "Are you nuts? Do you want that beast to eat
me? I think I'll stay here." Clicking on a stick of dynamite
in her inventory will cause Ren to say, "C'mon, use it. You
know you want to." Plus her accent was charming, particularly
when she turned the letter V into a W, thus pronouncing the Russian
national drink as "wodka."
I truly enjoyed the background music. It was low-key and unobtrusive
enough that when I was sitting there trying to figure out what
I needed to do next, it didn't clash with what my brain was trying
to do. I actually found myself humming along with Beethoven's
Fifth while checking out the Ares Hotel lobby or just enjoying
the serene, 2001: A Space Odysseylike music used
for the asteroid sequence.
Ambient sounds were the usual: Ren's footsteps as she traveled
though the various landscapes, doors and drawers opening or closing,
fans whirring, rain on the pavement and, in one location, a bird
And now we come to the technical portion of our program ... Legacy
has several bug issues. None of them are game-killers, but
they're annoying nonetheless. The biggest is that there are a
couple of instances where the cursor doesn't respond to indicate
an active hotspot (the cursor should glow green if moved over
an active object or person.). Try finding a specific rock in a
pile of similar-looking rocks when the cursor doesn't let you
know you can interact with it.
A rather scary bug was when trying to name a save game; no text
was displayed onscreen, which made me doubt the game had actually
been saved. (It was.) While aboard the space transport, Ren disappeared
completely from the game for three screens and didn't reappear
until I'd completed a puzzle. (Exiting the game completely and
then reloading from a previous save seemed to solve the "no
text on save game" issue, but it did nothing for Ren's sudden
disappearance.) And then there's the crash to the desktop that
occurs every time you exit the game.
I've read various accounts of other players experiencing a crash
to the desktop every few minutes or the game not playing, at all,
once the install completed. Aside from an extremely sluggish install
and a couple of random crashes to the desktop, I considered myself
fortunate after reading about others' travails. I played the game
on a P4 3 GHz with 1 GB RAM, a 128 MB video card,
DX9b and XP-SP2.
There is a patch
for Legacy, but I could never figure out which issues it
corrected, so I left my game in its virgin state. (Based on threads
in Legacy's forum, the patch does not seem to correct the
"crash to the desktop on exit" bug.)
In all honesty, Legacy's story is somewhat typical for
science fictiona megalomaniac intent on achieving world
domination through any means possible. The slight twist is that
the domination doesn't stop at just one world or one time period.
While I'm a huge fan of sci-fi, I really would have liked a much
deeper and clearer story than the one presented. Although the
story, and opening sequence, made a lot more sense once I'd played
through the entire game, I felt that too much of the game's exposition
took place within Ren's log rather than within the context of
the conversations with the various NPCs or the papers and notes
scattered throughout the various locations. Based on some conversation
choices, there were times I felt that Ren was privy to far more
information than I. Perhaps the game would have flowed better,
along with increasing the immersion factor, if Ren had done a
voice-over narrative similar to the Tex Murphy games.
Legacy: Dark Shadows isn't a bad game, and there definitely
appeared to be a better game lurking somewhere just on the outer
boundaries. A lot of the issuesolder graphics engine, bad
voice acting and clichéd storyare simply the trappings
of a shoestring budget. While some games, like The
Fifth Disciple, seem able to overcome those shortcomings
and become a really entertaining game; Legacy wasn't quite
able to pull that off due to its myriad technical issues.
Release Date: November 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
Windows 98 SE or later
PIII 800 MHz or AMD Duron 900 MHz (P4 1200 MHz recommended)
256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended)
12x CD-ROM drive (32x recommended)
Mouse and keyboard
3D card with 32 MB RAM (1024×768, 16-bit) (64 MB RAM, 32-bit
Windows compatible sound device
700 MB free hard drive space (1.5 GB recommended)
Where to Find It
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