The Demoman: Legendary

Christopher Livingston is a freelance writer with plenty of time for games but not enough money to buy them. Thus was born The Demoman; a shadowy yet helpful figure dedicated not to helping you decide which expensive games to buy, but which free game demos to play.

As the saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Frankly, I don't know jack about history, but I imagine the saying works for pop-culture as well. I've learned a lot from all the years spent sitting on my ass watching movies and playing video games, lessons like: don't read from a flesh-bound Book of the Dead, don't conduct experiments in an effort to open a gateway to another dimension, don't dig up an ancient relic on a alien planet, and, of course, don't open Pandora's Box.

The demo of Legendary, a first-person shooter developed by Spark Unlimited, demonstrates the dangers of ignoring this last lesson, which, as it turns out, are the same dangers as ignoring any of the lessons above: if you mess around with science or magic or alien stuff, a bunch of horrible monsters will spill forth from some shadowy netherworld and a badass commando will have to shoot them all with a bunch of weapons that happen to be lying around unattended.

Displaying a casual attitude amidst horrifying cirumstances = you will be dead shortly.

The badass in this case is a guy named Deckard, and the monsters are creatures from mythology, like werewolves and minotaurs, who are ravaging the city streets along with some enemy soldiers whose presence isn't really explained. Standard FPS weapons are scattered around: shottie, SMG, sniper rifle, and grenades, and standard FPS companions are on the scene, like your commando buddy who cracks jokes and makes smart-aleck remarks before being predictably killed.

The werewolves are pretty tough opponents: they leap around, climb up the sides of buildings, and take a number of shots to go down. And, being werewolves, they aren't prone to staying down, either. Decapitate them with your axe or a shotgun blast, or they'll spring back up a few moments later. So, if you like shooting ragdoll corpses anyway, in this game it actually comes in handy.

I can't recall, is it a silver-bullet through the heart, or a shotgun blast to the junk?

Apart from the hardware, Deckard has another trick up his sleeve, literally: his hand is magical for some reason, and he can suck energy out of dead monsters and use it to either heal himself or zap enemies. His hand may be enchanted, but the rest of his arm definitely isn't -- the dude really sucks at throwing grenades. The one molotov I chucked at an enemy soldier six feet away only made it about half that distance and blew up in my face.

After fighting my way through the streets, I came to a gate with a giant werewolf behind it. I had no choice but to open it, and another one of the wise-cracking commandos with me said "Deckard, you see that werewolf behind the barricade, right? Just don't let it kill me, huh?" Anyway, he was horribly dismembered by the werewolf. That should be another lesson: don't be a wise-cracking squadmate or you'll be horribly dismembered by a werewolf.

You know what really stings?
Werewolf scratches directly across the surface of the eyeball.

Later, in some dank, corpse-strewn tunnels, I heard the echoing laughter of children, which turned out to be some sort of ghost. There's another pop-culture lesson: children are creepy and scary and their laughter is a horrible, horrible thing. It makes me worry about young gamers -- when they grow up and have kids, and their kids laugh in the next room, it's probably going to freak the shit out of them.

Eventually, I came upon two more wise-cracking commando pals who were quickly beaten to death by a rampaging minotaur. I don't know how this guy was stymied by a maze in ancient Greece for so long, because he didn't have any trouble running right through walls and pillars to whomp on me with a gravestone. Once he was dead, I followed a sign that said "Evacuation Shelter: Go to Church." The last thing I saw was two enemy soldiers near the church who were grabbed by giant tentacles and yanked over a wall, and then the demo abruptly ended. One last lesson: never go where evacuation signs point you, they're always far worse than where you currently are. Especially if they're in a church.

"We need two units and a maze, repeat, a maze!"

Honestly, I kinda dug this demo. Despite it being an extremely standard, by-the-numbers FPS in terms of weapons, looks, and gameplay, I like the concept of mythological creatures running rampant in the present day and it was a nice change to fight something other than demons, zombies, or aliens in a shooter. I could have done without the soundtrack, which was reminiscent of a garage band warming up, and the demo itself was so short you just spent more time reading about it than I did playing it. But, aside from those concerns and the other fourteen things I just complained about, I actually enjoyed it and wouldn't mind playing more.

Download the Legendary demo.