Imagine the scene; a top floor boardroom somewhere in LA, the walnut and marble surfaces are strewn with empty coffee mugs and donut containers. Pencil sketches of hideous monsters, girls in tight shorts and big muscled fellows adorn the walls. In the centre of the room is a large table and around it sits the executive producers of Capcom, all sharply dressed in suits but wearing t-shirts underneath. These men want to make money, sure they have enough but they want more. Therefore they are discussing their latest blockbusting game. 'Hey', one of them says, 'How about Devil May Cry 3?' The other board members turn and look at this guy and mutter. 'Well, I know it's a bit soon', he says excitedly, 'but why don't we make it and call it something else? You know, give us some time before we make DMC3? Come on guys, we can even throw in some token summoning or something! Let's do it!'
And so Chaos Legion was born. From first impressions it would seem that it is an extension of the DMC series, just with new bells and whistles, something that DMC2 needed itself.
The story behind CL is bordering on a DMC plotline too; it's all very fantasy swords 'n' guns inspired. You assume the role of Sieg Wahreit, a summoner on a quest to hunt down his friend Victor Delacroix, who, as luck would have it, has gone completely insane over the loss of his one true love, the poor soul. Sieg decides to take along his legion crests, which he uses to summon his ghoulish buddies, the Legions, which he will use to batter the evil of the darkness Victor has travelled into. He also seeks to piece together the last remnants of the ultimate summon, Thanatos, which would hopefully allow for some major 'whoop ass' if need be. So, it seems to me with such an open-ended story, you would think there would be plenty of space for expansion and depth. Err, no, I'm afraid not. The story is pushed along via cut-scenes and the very flimsy games manual, leaving me wondering just why old Sieg would go to all this trouble. This style of game is crying out for a deep involving plot to sit with the fast paced action, but it seems no one is willing to do so. A crying shame...
Although I have done so frequently already, we must attempt to judge CL on it's own merits and not constantly compare it to DMC. For a start, CL has the summoning legions. These monsters are more like pets or additional characters rather than weapons, they can be hurt and more importantly, trained and levelled up. When a bad guy is despatched, they may drop a crystal before vanishing, which if fed to one of your summons can increase their power. Think of it as spiritualist pet food. Your summons will start off relatively weak, with specific powers and abilities. Certain summons will use electricity as their offence; therefore they perform very well against robots but poorly against earth based Golems. However, after a bit of powering up, all of your summons will become strong enough to kill even opposite (fire/water, etc.) element demons. It's good fun but does somewhat ruin the strategy element. The controls are easy to get to grips with and the action is fast and furious, but even with the huge amounts of enemies thrown at you, it never really seems to reach the same peaks as the original DMC, which is a shame as I feel the game could have easily achieved this with a little more work. As it stands it suffers slightly from the classic repetition of all action titles; kill, move, kill, move, kill some more, stop, look at bad guy, say something witty, kill, move etc. Although it's something we see far too much of, it's still something we can forgive in smaller amounts, such as this.
Graphically, CL is quite stunning in places with hundreds of multi-limbed demons rushing you from all sides, but with all this fast paced action comes the graphical problems associated with it. Firstly the camera will occasionally shift, leaving you with no idea where you are or what to attack next (when there are 20 monsters on top of you it's all too easy to lose your place). This is coupled with the fact that the background textures are rather dull and grey; which is an understandable decision given the sheer amount of action that goes on above them - but still makes things look a little too dull at times. On the whole however, I was very impressed with the graphics; the whole title gives off that slightly polished look that is still surprisingly missing from most PS2 titles.
The soundtrack is nothing out of the ordinary, in fact if you played it and DMC's on a stereo, I couldn't tell the difference. It's all standard heavy guitar rock with little or no heart to it. It could be worse; it could be Steps (I shudder at the mere thought of it). Orchestral music would have suited the tense battle scenes better (a la Final Fantasy) but alas, it's merely reserved for cut scenes.
Although it may seem I dislike this game, I in fact do not. It has many minor flaws but in the end I keep returning for another go; I quite enjoy getting smacked to the ground only to summon a beastie to squish some mechas for me. The action is fast paced, the summons are a good angle and it looks great for the most part. For all its flaws and troubles, it's still a fun title, although it's slightly pipped by the original DMC. It may not be worthy of £39.99, but it's well worth a rental...