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All the better to eat you with, my dear.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Calling your game "Legendary" is really just asking for people to take a pop at you. For a generation brought up to see the phrase as a description of slightly dubious excellence - Chuck Norris being probably the most apt recipient of the title - rather than a reference to mythology, you might as well call the game "Fantastic" or "Bloody Marvellous". It's just a bit assumptive, you know? A bit of a liberty.

It's surprising, then (but really just as well) that our first impression of Legendary can be summed up in one word: unpretentious. This is a game that's as straightforward as they come. It's a first-person shooter without any of the frills and flourishes - an honest, simple, hand-on-heart experience that's all about a man with a lot of guns going up against demonic beasts with lots of teeth.

The "Legendary" of the title refers to those beasts. Cutting a broad swathe through the world's various mythologies, the game throws creatures at you including griffons, werewolves, and a particularly creepy nasty from Eastern European mythology which appears in the translucent form of a floating, giggling child, before screeching and diving at you with slashing, clawed feet. Yuck.

The whole idea of the game is that you're a thief who has been recruited to steal an item from a box stored in a museum in New York. The problem, as explained in the abrupt opening scenes of the game (which also serve as a tutorial for the controls), is that this is actually Pandora's Box - and by opening it you unleash all of these pent-up nasties on the world, as well as a nicely cinematic energy pulse that rips through New York, tossing cars around like popcorn on a hot pan.

Close enough to smell his breath - and if that makes you wish for death, you may be in luck.

As the game progresses, there are plenty of additional McGuffins thrown into the plot - two ancient forces, now equipped with top of the range military gear, clash over control of the Box, with you stuck in the middle. However, for the most part this is simply an excuse to drag you from location to location battling an assortment of monsters, and the game makes no attempt to pretend otherwise.

Instead it focuses all of its resources into doing one thing: providing really good, entertaining, run-and-gun gaming. Stripping away the various complex systems and ideas which have accreted on the FPS genre since the days of Doom, Legendary instead focuses on using the power of modern hardware to increase its scale. In part, this means putting plenty of creatures (dozens, in some cases) into your encounters, recalling the frantic energy of Doom itself. It also, however, means really turning up the scale to epic levels in other ways.

"If your name's not down, you're not coming in. And I'll bite your face off. Actually, I'll do that anyway."

The intention to provide epic scale is made clear early on in the game. Throughout the entire New York section - around two-to-three hours of gameplay, by our estimate - you'll occasionally be menaced by a gigantic monster which smashes its way through entire skyscrapers and city blocks. This is a Golem from Greek legends, but in Legendary it's made up of wrecked cars and pieces of buildings, rather than clay - and it's easily 40 stories tall. The task of eventually felling it (in the neon ruins of Times Square) is a multi-stage objective that's several levels worth of play on its own.

Thus far, that's as far as we've seen in Legendary - but we're promised that the action next moves to London, where equally gigantic beasts will be on display. There's talk of the London Eye and Big Ben falling foul of rampaging golems. Strangely, from what we can gather, the action next moves to Durham. We're sure Durham's pretty epic in its own right, but that's got to be right up on the list of "odd locations for videogames" right alongside Resistance's use of, er, Grimsby.