Eternal Legacy, Gameloft’s first 3D open-world RPG has come to the Mac. However, where RPGs differ from some of the other Gameloft titles on the market is that they demand not only a diverse colour palette and good gameplay but they also require emotion. The player really needs to relate and connect with the characters, and the story has to matter. If not, then the player has no reason to go on. Sure, if Gameloft’s good at anything it would be putting 3D models on a screen and making them move. The question is, are Gameloft any good at promoting emotion in their gamers? The short answer is a resounding absolute 100%… no.
Eternal Legacy Gameplay
Eternal Legacy is set in some fantastical dimension in a far away kingdom where a group of people are trying to recover some energy stones to restore the town’s power source. But I hold my hands up and say here, that I don’t really know for sure. I mean, Eternal Legacy’s story is horribly told. I mean horribly. It’s full of plot holes and is overall totally unbelievable. At the start of the game you are thrown straight into the action with no explanation of what’s going on. Yeah sure, the explosions look pretty and the sword on your back looks darn big but in terms of narration, it’s having none of it. Especially as this is an RPG where the story should be a vital part of the gameplay, Eternal Legacy totally blows it.
The execution of the plot doesn’t help things run along smoothly either. Try as I might, the paper flat emotionless faces and simply dreadful voice acting are something I can’t take seriously. When you’ve got a tired slave labourer who has been chipping away at a rock wall for half his life saying ‘I miss my children’, you want to feel the emotion in his voice, you want to feel sorry for him and angry at yourself for being so helpless. But when it’s voiced in such a way that makes it seem like he is stating it as fact in a science laboratory, it rips out all that potential emotion. Same goes for all of the characters in the game, and it’s almost impossible to relate to either one of them.
But it’s not all about story. Maybe if Eternal Legacy had succeeded with some robust and enjoyable combat mechanics then it might not have got such a low mark. But unfortunately this is not the case. Eternal Legacy adopts a mixture of turn-based and real-time elements in its combat. Basically you stack up your future moves and attacks. Once the little bar at the top right fills then you can execute the next move in your queue and so on. All the while your two companions are doing the same thing until the 1-3 opposing enemies are dead or victorious.
But even this simple mechanic is inherently flawed. You can’t see enemy health bars which means you can’t prioritise attacks to the weaker foe. You also don’t have the ability to cancel queued attacks meaning if say, an ally is badly wounded you can’t give him/her a healing potion at that specific time. No, instead you have to add it to the end of your move queue meaning by the time you use the potion he/she will have either died or healed themselves anyway. This takes a lot of potential strategy out of the combat and instead leaves you with some very repetitive sequences. There are special moves you are able to execute every 6-12 turns but most of the time you’ll be using the same two attacks (one normal attack one skill attack which uses up your mana) over and over again. You can imagine this getting pretty boring after a few hours.
Even controlling your character is harder than it should be. Eternal Legacy takes on a keyboard only approach in navigation where the arrow keys move your character and the WASD keys move the camera behind him. Even though I did become used to it after a while, every time I came back to Eternal Legacy I was hit anew with how odd moving around is.
The graphics in Eternal Legacy are alright. I mean textures are low-res and rock walls are flat but I can appreciate those hard-working Gameloft designers have put some love and care into creating this huge world to explore over many different environments. Even though some enemies lack imagination (a flying sword? now that’s just ridiculous) others look beautiful. Their special attacks are also well created and as dramatic as ever. The over-the-top sound design helps in achieving this. Mostly, this approach improves the game and makes it more playable unless you’re the sort of person who doesn’t go for over-the-top action tracks blaring out of your speakers.
But the presentation is a small shimmering light amongst a sea of darkness. There are a ton of other issues with Eternal Legacy including no sense of progression, poorly designed resource management, dumb ally AI at times, mindless gameplay, annoying save points etc. But there isn’t enough space and you don’t have the time for me to go through all of them. Simply put, Eternal Legacy is a pretty terrible game once you get into it. Gameloft have tried to make the best of a bad situation and stuck with what they know. If you just took a look at Eternal Legacy at face value, from the screenshots and video footage you could easily mistake it as a beautifully designed, plot-driven RPG at a reasonable price. You’d be mostly wrong. It’s missing so many fundamentals that have come to be expected in most role-playing games nowadays. Probably the issue that stands above all others is the lack of emotion. I don’t care for the character I play as, I don’t care for the characters I am fighting with nor the civilisation I have been tasked to save and that is what makes it not worth your time or money.
Price: $6.99 – £4.99
Description: Gameloft Final Fantasy RPG Clone
Pros: Notable graphics and scale, cool special attacks, some amazing creatures.
Cons: Emotionless, very repetitive combat, dull story, cringe-worthy voice acting.
Advised Control Method: All (keyboard control)