Pocket Legends was a stab at a true MMO on smartphone. The dream was to transfer the design of regular MMOs to portable devices thanks to the constant internet connection these devices supply, thus letting everyone play a deep adventure full of quests, loot, and stat-building.
The reality didn't quite match the dream. The appealing things about MMOs – the exploration, sense of community, and teamwork – didn’t come through. Meanwhile, faults of the genre seemed to transfer effortlessly. There was plenty of grind but not much fun.
But the dream recurred – as dreams do – and now we find ourselves sitting with Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles. And although there are some improvements, all the core problems remain sadly intact.
You're given the choice to play as one of three classes – Commando, Operative, or Engineer. These function as a tank, rogue, and healer respectively. RPGs are nothing if not predictable.
Once you’ve chosen your class you're thrown into a brief but efficient tutorial mission in which you navigate some corridors and gun down a few space-hijackers.
On completing this quest, you can explore your base, where other players run around the various item-vending terminals. It's here that you pick up quests.
At the early stages there's not much you can get here, as everything is ridiculously expensive and will take either shelling out a few quid through the game’s in-app purchasing or accepting a lot more quests. In standard free-to-play MMO style, it will take you dozens and dozens of quests to earn enough to get the shinier loot.
This could have been an acceptable price to pay - after all, if a game is compelling enough we would play it for hours anyway. Sadly, every quest is an almost identical series of corridors and blast doors housing similar baddies that you shoot in similar ways until they’re all gone. You then get the choice to return to base or proceed to the next level, where you can repeat the whole thing over again for what feels like eternity.
Your skill tree doesn’t offer a lot of variety until much later in the game, and you can’t even plot out how you'll level-up as the tree itself is invisible from the stats menu most of the time. This means combat itself is a highly repetitive affair, even if the Xperia Play’s controls make it a much easier one to bear.
Using the left thumbpad for movement is mostly smooth and responsive, while the face, start, and select buttons are handily mapped to set skills and items. The controls are well-thought-through, but even they can’t compensate for the dull grind.
As a free-to-play MMO, this has all the hallmarks of a game designed to rope you in using fast-track progression through its premium in-game currency ‘platinum’ – which you can buy. It costs $9.99 for 75 platinum, while 45 platinum will get you a decked out premium character. Unfortunately, we can’t really recommend paying this price for a game that's so repetitive, not to mention laggy – several times we were disconnected from the server mid-mission, despite having a very stable internet connection. Those really interested in the genre might want to check it out, but for everyone else it’s just another bad dream.