Warner Brothers Games and Krome Studios teamed up for the Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole video game based on the upcoming film. The game is available now for major platforms. While certainly intended for kids, if you enjoy 'open' flying games like Lair, you might give Legend a rental.
The Pure Ones Cometh
Legend of Guardians is about a group of owls that keep the peace, but another group of owls, who call themselves the Pure Ones, are intent on disrupting that. Having not seen the movie I don't know closely the game follows the film, but for what it's worth, the story within the game is pretty competent. In the game, players take the role of Shard, an owl who lives in Ga'Hoole with the rest of the Guardians. Shard is young, but skilled, something gets from his father who was also a skilled owl. With the Pure Ones breaking the peace, Shard and his friends must work together to stop them.
Legend is spread across twenty-seven missions. Almost every mission involves fighting off crows, Hagfiends, and Pure Ones, which come in a few different varieties. Shard can use his talons with X, a Barge attack with Y, he can throw enemies with B, and perform a powerful ground attack called Fall From Grace with LT+RT. Targeting, essential to combat and locating objectives, is done with LB. You can also perform a corkscrew maneuver which can be used as an attack, or to simply to speed burst, by pressing up on the RS when you have earned enough Prowess. Shard earns Prowess by diving towards the ground, which fills up this meter in the HUD. The meter has three slots, each representing one corkscrew, or, one wingman command. Wingmen are friendly AI that are with Shard who you can send to attack your targeted enemy. They actually do well for themselves and you can count on them to damage all enemies except armored ones bosses.
So the combat, which makes up the majority of the gameplay, revolves around targeting one enemy at a time and attacking them. When you attack an enemy, their lifeline is revealed in the HUD, and generally, depending on what Battleset you have equipped and how strong the enemy is, they take about four hits to defeat. It's worth noting that you have to use a combination of talon, barge, and throw attacks on an enemy or they will break your attacks and retaliate. Many times, an enemy will target you. Defense involves either doing a barrel roll with left or right on the RS or pressing the corresponding face button that shows up as the enemy gets very near you. These moments are basically like very short, very easy quicktime events.
Another major component of the game involves dropping hot coals onto artillery, or other Pure One structures. This is actually similar to the combat in that you have to target the hot coal points, wait for the A prompt to appear, and then when you press it, Shard will swoop down and pick up two hot coals. Next, you fly over to the object you're trying to destroy, target it, wait for the prompt, and then press A. It's simple, and you do it quite a few times throughout the game, but I will say that it works nicely at least.
In addition to fighting off dozens of enemies, destroying Pure One structures, and protecting or escorting friendly AI, you will also guide Shard through race sequences and rescue missions. The races are pretty fun, generally lasting anywhere from two to five minutes. In these, you must navigate Shard through a series of gold rings. Depending on the length of the race, the game lets you miss up to six rings. As for rescuing other owlets, these are simple retrieval based objectives where you must track down (using the radar) an enemy bird. After taking the owlet from him (single button quick time sequence) you must fly back to a safe spot to drop the little birds off.
Flight controls for Shard work out well. You can invert the pitch (left stick) as needed, but once you're comfortable with that, you just need to hold RT to fly and use the LS to steer. With LT, you can brake, or even hover, but there isn't a lot of reason to. I liked the fact that you can press down on the RS to do a quick 180 degree turn, too.
Legend does a lot of things to make it easier for a younger audience to play and enjoy. For one, the game is easy and forgiving, but still manages to be fun. The missions are short and varied enough that should hold any attention span long enough. And although you are likely to complete the game in just 5 or 6 hours, you can replay it for several reasons. One is to try out the other three owl types -- at the start of the game, you can choose between four different owls with different Speed, Prowess, Health, and Damage ratings. Each of these values change depending on what Battleset you have equipped. Battlesets are sets of armor that alter these attributes. There are about eight to unlock, which is done by spending the Shinnies (gold coins) you collect during play. There are five Bonus Missions (one for each zone) that contain four challenges that you can replay and they also contain hidden scrolls (concept art). You can always replay any story mission to improve your score, too.
In terms of presentation, Legend does okay for itself but it doesn't impress. The visual appeal is tepid, with mostly drab textures. The framerate stays smooth for the most part, but I wasn't impressed with the graphics, although I think for a younger audience, they're sufficient. The same goes for the sound package, which gets the job done but isn't outstanding.
Overall, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a decent movie-video game adaptation. Let's get to the summary...