Master art thief Charles Deckard creeps cautiously towards the box. Pandora's Box, to be exact. It sits on top of a raised platform in a darkened New York museum room. Hired by the mysterious Professor Lefey, Deckard knows not of the havoc, destruction and chaos he is about to unleash upon the world. All he cares about is swiping the box's valuable innards and getting the hell out of there undetected.
Deckard, a suited and booted man who's the antithesis of your typical muscle bound FPS marine, puts his hand on the box. Bad move.
The box closes in around Deckard's hand, clamping him to its outer casing. Cue the spewing forth of explosions, beams of red fire and all manner of madness as the museum is shook to the core. All those legendary beasts of myth and lore, the ones your parents spoke about in bed time stories - well they're real. Very real. And now they've been let loose. New York, indeed the world, will never be the same again.
The cutscene ends and Legendary turns Deckard over to the player, ie, you. Deckard, hopefully feeling slightly apologetic, has been branded by the Box, resulting in a mark on his left palm. He's now responsible for building a new box and sealing the game's army of beasts away for the last time. Bother.
'A gryphon lands on the roof of a NYPD car, sinks its deadly claws into the sheet metal, lets off a deafening roar and flies off, vehicle in tow.'
Right now though, there are more pressing concerns. Controlling Deckard you make your way out of the crumbling museum, past falling structures, exploding walls and scores of petrified art-lovers. In this first stage there's little more you can do but walk, crouch and jump your way past the chaos, eventually finding the exit. It's here, with the streets of New York spiralling out in front of us, that we can see the full, shocking results of Deckard's handiwork. And it 'aint pretty.
A gryphon lands on the roof of a NYPD car, sinks its deadly claws into the sheet metal, lets off a deafening roar and flies off, vehicle in tow. You follow its path and see a hundred more gryphons circling in the skies, ready to pounce on the fleeing civilians below. The red beam emanating from Pandora's Box emits an all-encompassing pulse, knocking people off their feet and thrusting cars into the air. Disoriented, you run for cover, struggling to avoid the devastation. We nearly soil ourselves when we turn a corner to find a man savagely eaten alive by a gryphon, which then flies off with the lifeless body in its mouth. And then we see the crowning touch. In the distance cars, metal and trucks come together to form something. Eventually you realise exactly what's facing you - a six story tall titan made from the fabric of New York City itself. It smashes an arm down into the street, flinging twisted metal in every direction. It looks like Independence Day spliced with Jurassic Park, except with you right in the thick of it.
Phew. Talk about opening sequences blowing your socks off. We haven't seen a game opening this impressive since BioShock's entry into the underwater city of Rapture. And like that sequence Legendary's opening serves in part as a technical showcase, intended to grip you by the shoulders and shake you like a rag doll, and in part as a cleverly disguised tutorial. After Deckard is branded we quickly learn that he now has the ability to siphon health-giving "Animus" power from defeated creatures. Legendary works like this - you get health from the creatures and weapon ammo from humans.
Speaking of the humans, Legendary's story is one of two shadowy organisations which battle against each other for Pandora's Box itself. The Council of 98, a UN style organisation with hidden bases under the Houses of Parliament in London and Times Square, were the original creators of Pandora's Box, and have been trying to prevent exactly this kind of catastrophic event for years. In direct opposition to the Council is the Black Order, which believes in progress at any price. It likes genetic testing, gene splicing, cloning and nano technology. The aforementioned Professor Lefey, who hired Deckard to nick Pandora's Box, is part of the Black Order. It wants to try and harness the Box's power for its own personal gains. Evil.