Replay Value: 6.5
A dogged, silent protagonist, a story full of clichés, and an endless stream of enemies. Could this be anything else than an old school, made-in-Japan action game? This is Chaos Legion, Capcom's latest addition to the PS2 library. Dubbed a "fantasy opera", and originally being intended as a new flagship series for Capcom, it's pretty obvious that they had some grand vision of how the project would turn out. Seems like they severely underestimated the general audience, because hardly anyone will accept Chaos Legion with open arms. The game is a truly average mess that will have the player yawning within an hour, either leading to someone reaching for the power button, or to him/her routinely playing along, in order to get some value for that wasted cash.
The main problem lies in Chaos Legion's core gameplay. Essentially, each stage is composed by a series of adjacent "room" sections. In each section, there is a horde of monsters, and in most cases, one or many special "target" monsters too. These work like a monster generator, so the player can either choose to use your trusty sword for hacking and slashing through the fodder, or go directly to the source of it all. The aggravating camera system and targeting controls will try their best to make sure you don't live through another day, but hopefully you'll manage to clear out the room. At the end of the stage, you'll meet a boss, which rarely requires any kind of effort to defeat. This formula gets old - fast. During one stage, you will get to control another character, which prefers to rely on guns rather than long, sharp objects. The result isn't so much variety, as it is a reminder of just how far behind Devil May Cry the game is.
Capcom has tried to spice things up a little with the inclusion of the Legions. They're a form of summoned monsters that will assist you in the fight against evil, and can be brought forth with the press of a button. There are seven of these Legions in total, most of which you acquire as a reward for finishing a stage. They all have their specialties; for instance, the Guilt legion you start out with is effective against organic enemies, while others are suited for dealing with armored creatures. You can only equip two at the same time. Between stages, you can level up the Legions with the experience they amass by fighting on your side, opening up new abilities and moves. So, in theory this sounds like a pretty strategic addition to the gameplay, right? Too bad that you can basically make it through the game by using the same variation of Legions that you have at your disposal in the beginning parts. In the end, plowing through the enemies is enough, and any kind of redeeming factor to the stilted gameplay mechanics is quickly discarded.
Stylistically, Chaos Legion is very uninspired. The majority of the stages take place in drab and ugly castle landscapes save for a forest stage popping up later on. The levels have very little polygonal detail in them, and fog is rampant. Character models are pretty well done though, even if they are a bit rough around the edges and move around a bit stiffly. Thankfully, the game runs at a fluid frame rate, although considering the sparse environments, anything else would have been an insult. Audio-wise, it's your standard fare of clanks and slashes, drowning in a horrible rock soundtrack. The (thankfully sparse) voice acting will leave you groaning, but what did you expect - the game's made by Capcom, after all. Dialogue and plot has never been their strong side, and the tale of our hero, Sieg, and his quest for redemption is utterly un-involving.
The game features a lot of unlockables, made available by beating the game. Too bad the biggest replay incentive of them all is missing - namely, a compelling game experience. With Devil May Cry, Capcom single-handedly resurrected the classic action genre. With Chaos Legion, they take a big step backwards. It seems as if Capcom forgot that the things that made character-centric action titles of the past so great weren't cool main characters or non-stop action - it was perfect gameplay and varied level design.