Review by Gene Parmesan
"Legendary in its own way"
Superhero games have never been a groundbreaking genre. In the early days, numerous games featured these super-powered beings, but they were often nothing more than button mashing affairs that went unnoticed. However, more technology is available now, games can be more realistic, exciting, and generally entertaining. Such is the case of X-Men Legends, a game that takes a successful comic book license and crafts that into an excellent game.
The game begins with you as Wolverine, searching New York for a girl named Alison, whom the Brotherhood, a group of mutants bent on the destruction of the human race, kidnapped earlier. It appears that Alison has unique powers, that which the Brotherhood wants, and now the X-Men are sent to rescue the girl. Through the course of the game, numerous discoveries about the Brotherhood's true intentions, as well as other conspiracies will be revealed. However, the plot still remains quite simple, and it's nothing really different than what you'd see in most superhero movies or books. Still, the plot is quite interesting, especially towards the end.
XML is a hack n slash game that is squad based, so through the majority of the game you will control your own small team of X-Men. There are fifteen characters available to use in the game, but you can only have four characters at a time in your squad, so selecting the perfect team for your mission becomes very tactical. By pushing in a certain direction on the D pad, you can select which X-Man you want to use, while the AI controls the other three. Regardless of who you're using, all characters can perform basic moves: attack, jump, pick up objects, and heal themselves. Each of the X-Men can also use mutant attacks. These powers vary from character to character. For example, Jean Grey can use her psychic powers to throw around objects and enemies, while Cyclops can use his powers to shoot plasma beams from his eyes. Each X-Man has three different mutant attacks: a primary attack, a secondary attack, a defensive move that grants bonuses to the character who used it, and an Xtreme Mutant Power. The Xtreme Mutant Power is an ultra powerful mutant attack that can only be done when an X-Man reaches a certain level and collects a certain number of tokens. This move is useful when your team is going against a huge amount of enemies. Combat in XML is fun and exciting, and it's very interesting to use all the different characters' abilities. Part of the fun is trying out all the different mutants and how their powers can help you in a certain situation.
XML also features deep character customization. When your X-Men level up, you get a certain number of points that you can use to upgrade their stats and abilities. The first thing you can customize is your character's stats. Using the points available, you can choose to upgrade their health, defense, strength, and effectiveness of their mutant powers. After you are done upgrading the physical stats, you have the option to move on and upgrade your mutant's abilities. Here, you can improve your character's mutant attacks, get new mutant moves, and give your character general upgrades. For example, one upgrade would be giving a specific character the ability to deal ice-based damage with each melee attack, or to make a certain character able to lift very heavy objects. XML's customization allows you to mold your X-Men to your playing style and your personal attributes, which is a big plus.
XML is a great game to play by yourself, but its real fun lies in multiplayer. XML features some amazing cooperative multiplayer. During a single player game, someone can simply plug in a controller, press start, and instantly start playing along side you. If you want to stop playing, you can simply press start again, and that's it. XML's co-op is great for a person who doesn't have much time to play, or someone who's just dropping by and wants to see what XML is about. If co-op doesn't interest you, you can also play against your friends in fierce head to head battles. You can choose one X-Man, and then duke it out with your friends in a large array of maps. There's a varied selection of gameplay modes, too, like Deathmatch or King of the Hill. While the head to head multiplayer isn't as fun as co-op, it's still entertaining and a good change of pace.
Graphically, XML is quite good. Cut scenes and FMV scenes look great, with fluid animation and colorful characters. Backgrounds are enemies are detailed and really make you feel like you're among the X-Men. The only flaws with the graphics of XML are the character models. All the characters in XML are fully cel shaded to give the game a comic book feel. However, they lack detail, to the point where some of them look just like generic models. Some of these characters look quite silly in cut scenes; in front of high tech computers and machinery, you'd see a character that looks like it was colored in five minutes before the scene was made. Still, XML has good visuals and the majority of the time they are very pleasing to look at.
XML's music is also pretty good. For many levels, it is very fitting. An artic level might have a quiet and subtle song, while a military compound might have a fast paced and metallic soundtrack. All the music is very fitting and a lot of it is actually pretty cool. Unfortunately, the voice acting for XML isn't too great. For some characters, like Wolverine and Cyclops, the voices sound good and very authentic. However, for some characters, like Magma, the voices sound strange and lead you to wonder why in the world someone would give that voice to that character. However, the majority of XML's sounds and music sounds pretty good, so some bad voice acting isn't too big of a complaint.
Perhaps the only real flaws in XML lie in its difficulty and replay ability. Put simply, XML is a very easy game. As you progress early in the game, you will learn what characters are best, how to tackle any situation, and how to construct the perfect team. As the game progresses, you may notice that it becomes increasingly easier. XML also lacks replay value. After you beat the game, there is little reason to come back. There are a few training missions you can play and unlock, as well as multiplayer, but the excitement from both of them run out fast. XML is also short game, with only a handful of missions. While a lot of the missions are very long, some that could even take around two hours to beat, XML can still be completed in a short time, and after that, there really isn't too much reason to come back.
In conclusion, X-Men Legends is a good game with fun action elements and deep character customization. Although the game is too short and easy, XML is fun while it lasts and a great game for X-Men and action fans.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/11/05
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