Review by Kaas
"I would say this game is X-cellent, but the pun would kill me..."
The Uncanny X-Men have been in quite some games already. However, most of those games starring our famous mutants were fighting games, which, while usually enjoyable, have not been able to give you the real X-Men feeling. The game Wolverine's Revenge was a step in the good direction but X-Men Legends take it to the next dimension. This is no mere fighting game, it's an actual RPG in the X-Men Universe, complete with experience to be gained, an exchangeable party, lots of characters, a pretty good story and dungeon crawling. Activision finally gave the fans of the comics what they always craved: an action-packed, fun game filled with X-Men elements.
The game starts with the player in control of Wolverine, who has to rescue a newly discovered mutant from the enemy, the Brotherhood of Mutants. The story of the game isn't very special, but has enough depth to be considered better than an average game's story. As indicated by the game's box, Magneto is your primary enemy here. However, the story adds some more enemies to the game, and even has some nice twists, which I obviously won't spoil here.
As you progress through the game, you will meet more mutants and your party soon grows into the entire X-Men team. Yup, everyone's favorite mutant will be unlocked soon, and the team's roster includes Cyclopse, Iceman, Storm, Beast and lots more (including some secret characters). Every mutant has their own specific powers, and usually, some of them are needed on particular missions. For instance, when you need to get across a gap, you can simply walk around it, but it will cost you some time (which you may need, because some of the missions are timed). However, by having specific X-Men in your team, you can build a bridge across the gap, thereby shaving valuable seconds of the clock. These situations happen every now and then, but are usually clearly marked on your screen by a blue X. It's too bad you can't determine for yourself where to use what power to cross obstacles, because the way it's handled now is a bit lineair (sometimes you need to have a specific power in your team to progress).
We all know the X-Men originated in the comic by Marvel. The game uses cellshading to convey the feeling of the comic, and succeeds in this very well. The game looks very good, and it looks like you're playing a comic book. This also helps to believe some of the strange and out-of-this-world situations, and gives it a feeling of simple fun. A lot of the environment can be destroyed, which is not only cool to do, but also has some gameplay effects. For example, you can blast walls to reach secret rooms, which may have some cool items in it.
Every now and then, usually at the end of missions, the game shows you a cutscene. These little movies look really great, and really add to the story. They don't use in-game graphics, but actually have some FMV's in it, which are a pleasure to watch. There aren't much of them, but the ones they have look great. Even better, you can always watch the movies again whenever you are in the X-Mansion.
I didn't really notice the music or sound in this game, but I did enjoy the voice actors (with Patrick Steward as Xavier!). The sounds weren't bad or anything, they just didn't really stand out for me. I did notice the sound in the cutscenes was a lot louder for some reason, but it was usually of good quality in those. The sounds of the attacks of the X-Men was pretty accurate too, as it looks like some of them sounds just like the movies.
After every few missions you return to said X-Mansion, the big building where the X-Men reside. You control Magma there, the new X-Man you rescued in the first mission. You can walk around there, visit the Danger Room (where you can practice your moves), talk to different X-Men or look at some unlockables. It's fun at first, but after you've been there a few times, it gets a bit stale, because it's almost the same every time. You're not playing this game to walk around in a big house, you want to beat the snot out of some evil mutants! I wouldn't mind if they at least would have reduced the time you spend there
So, how does the fighting work, then? Well, it's very easy. At the beginning of your mission you usually get to pick four X-Men to play with, which can be changed at every save point. It's smart to think about which ones you want in your team, because every one of them has different abilities, which adds some tactical elements to the game. Once the team is picked, the mission starts and you will be given some objectives (you usually need to rescue someone or sabotage something). The levels look a bit like modern dungeons: very big, pretty lineair, filled with enemies and with some traps. You basically have to fight yourself through waves of enemies to get to the next floor of the dungeon. You'd think you'd tire of this repetive gameplay, but that's not the case here. There are a lot of different enemies in the game, the environment you walk through keeps changing and it's always fun to gain some experience by defeating enemies.
After enough experience, your X-Man gains a level and you can upgrade him or her. You can add skills in two different areas, body and abilities. In the body area, you can choose between health, strength, defense and focus (you need focus to use your abilities). As far as the abilities go, this is different for every X-Man. Suffice to say, each one has their own set of abilities and you can upgrade existing ones or purchase completely new ones. One of the possibilities when leveling, is an ultimate attack. Each character has one, but it only becomes available at higher levels. These ultimate attacks are very fun to watch, and usually deal out some heavy damage. It's smart to think about what you're going to do with the character when leveling, however, because you wouldn't want your fighter with little health and not many abilities.
The main thing that made X-Men Legends really stand out for me, is the multiplayer. Not only can you fight against each other with four players at the same time, you can also fight with each other. That's right, this game has a four player co-op story mode! If you're playing the game and a friend walks in, all he has to do is press start and he's playing with you. Sure, the game gets a bit harder with more human players, but it's very fun to do. You must work together to complete the mission, and with three or four players it's actually not really hard, but it's extremely fun to do. In fact, the entire game is not really hard, except for a few instances. You level up a lot, so you're never really in trouble, and even if a team member dies, you can easily revive him at a save point. Too bad, actually, as I would've liked to really fight for my live at every turn of the road.
In closing I can safely say X-Men Legends is an excellent game, but there are lots of possibilities to improve on it. I haven't played the sequel (yet), so I can't really say if it's better, but I can recommend you to play this game first, especially if you care about story. You wouldn't start with The Two Towers either, would you? The graphics are excellent and perfectly suited for this game, the gameplay is good but could've expanded a bit more on the use of mutant powers and the music, sounds and voice-acting is decent too. The multiplayer makes this game almost a must-have for people who play with friends often, and it's a definite purchase for every X-Men fans out there.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/06
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