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Publisher: Virtual Programming    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB


Legion
June 6, 2003 | Dean Browell
Pages:12Gallery


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Replay level on this game is high if you're into strategy games, and if you aren't than you probably wouldn't have started playing in the first place. Fans of turn-based strategies will no doubt welcome another to the fold, and I'd suggest realtime strategists give it a shot for the gameplay as well. Replay level is high, except for one issue that I'm surprised to see Virtual Programming not involved in: Online play. Unfortunately, many gamers are gaga over online play (I'm not one of them, as I'm more than content to play by myself, thank you-- such is the attention-standards of the only child); I fear this will scare away many potential gamers, but I'm hoping everyone can do without online play just this once and still give Legion a shot. But on a note to VP & Freeverse; if there's an update in the near future for Legion, consider dropping in online play for the multitude of players for whom 20+ AI opponents just isn't enough.

Graphics
The in-game graphics are smooth and round, complimenting gameplay by being easy on the eyes (which is important in a game where you'll be staring at the same images for long periods of time). The icon animations were nice (and more than adequate) and distinct, and moreover just recognizable (which is a change for some strategy games). There isn't too much graphical garnish (vines, proprietary icons) and most important buttons (such as the "End Turn" hourglass) are large and easy to find when you aren't thinking particularly hard.

Of particular positive note was the scrolling. I found that zipping around the edges of the screen with the mouse made for very quick pushes to reveal territories, with no stuttering or spinning up of the drive needed.

Cut scenes, including the intro, were very nice and on par with the cut scene crowd we're all very familiar with (I for one am not a huge fan of over-the-top cut scenes, as I'd rather the game had more substance than just neat movies).

Other than cut scenes, the only other secondary graphic use is in the 3D battle screens where your orders come to fruition (or else leave your soldiers dying on the vine-- see Gameplay). Here the graphics jump up several notches from the basic map and township interactions where you spend most of your time, and provide a healthy respite worthy of viewing while you or your enemy is cut to shreds.

The graphics aren't without two minor quirks: There is a pet peeve of mine that cropped up in this game: poor icons for OS X... Especially this late an hour on the OS X clock, I have very little patience for ugly, obviously non-OS X designed icons for the game, which give it the immediate look of a dated program, even when it is brand-new. The second quirk is the resolution, which for large screens (such as my 17" Powerbook) must be adjusted before starting the game as opposed to any in-game changes. It's just an irking omission that I can overlook, but I shouldn't have to.

It's worth pointing out that graphics will be second to gameplay in strategies such as Legion. That said, it is very pleasant to see a game of this girth of gameplay taking the energy to have smooth graphics that won't bother me in my marathon games. Moreover the low system requirements allows people without uber-machines to run it (although on a large screen it can be particularly cool); I'll be frank, I'm rating graphics higher than I might normally because of the low requirements; games like this one need to be commended not reprimanded for not braying to the highest clock speed.

Sound
The two types of sound you will encounter in Legion are the background music and the sound effects. The music, I'm surprised to say, was very nice and at times quite legitimately relaxing. Often I've found myself playing strategy games and becoming so irritated by the push-pin tin noises that gets passed off as music that I quickly shut all sound off and just play my own in the background; With Legion I wasn't so quick to pull the trigger, although at times I was a little mellow to keep my attention where I needed it in the game. But the music is excellent and the creators are to be commended. As for sound effects, they are for the most part of a staple variety and not particularly astonishing, although it is worth pointing out that they don't need to be.

Conclusion
It would be easy to read this review and forget that we're talking about a game that only retails for $20... The flat fact is that you'd be getting a game that is remarkably polished, has low system requirements, and is actually (gasp!) fun that easily rivals the $50 games out there. This is a game that could provide hours of up-late-all-night intensity, or even casual pick-up play on a portable. The graphics are nice without being too flashy or demanding while the interface remains accessible and easy to look at.

If you are even the slightest strategy fan: What are you waiting for?



Legion
Publisher: Virtual Programming
Buy Legion now at MacGameStore.com


Pages:12Gallery




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