Review by UltimaZER0
"An imperfect but strong sequel to X4"
X AND ZERO RETURNS
After fighting the undying Sigma so many times, it's no surprise to see that he has returned in the sequel to Megaman X4. The game provides solid gameplay but perhaps Capcom may be running out of ideas for a solid Megaman game.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
X5 takes place not too long after X4. Sigma's little henchman Dynamo helps him infect a space colony and allows it to spread to Earth, causing thousands of reploids to become Mavericks. In response to the crisis, X and Zero heads out to take care of business only to discover that the space colony has been set to crash to Earth in a few hours and the only way to stop it is by collecting parts to utilize the Enigma cannon in an attempt to blast the colony into dust. However, the only problem is that several of your reploid friends have hold of them and each one of them are not willing to give up their goods without a fight.
THE TRADITION OF MEGAMAN X
X5 follows the same tradition that every Megaman X game has gone through. You go through an easy intro stage and fight a low-defense boss at the end. Then you get to choose from eight different stages, each one laced with enemies and secret items throughout the area. At the end of the stage is a boss. Killing him/her will give you the boss's weapon for X and a new technique for Zero. Blast all eight of them and you're on your way to Sigma's fortress where you go through more stages with end bosses, challenge defeated Mavericks one last time, and then go after Sigma himself. Of course, just as in X4, there are different attacking abilities for both Maverick Hunters. While X has his basic Z-Buster that allows him to shoot enemies from afar, Zero has a Z-Saber that allows him to do a three-hit combo from close range.
X5 has its own features and one of them is the timer. Technically, you have fifteen hours to collect the parts and destroy the falling colony. However, instead of a countdown, entering one stage will take off one hour so in effect, it's more like a counter that limits the number of times you may enter and re-enter a stage. Once you clean out the business with the colony, however, your limits will be broken.
In addition to the usual Zero, X, and Sigma, there are now new cast members in the storyline. Signas is the replacement for the General of the Maverick Hunters, who may have been previously destroyed in X4. Alia is the navigator for the Hunters. Douglas is the mechanic who assists with equipment. Lifesavor maintains on Hunters and creates vaccines for different virii. Finally, Dynamo is Sigma's little hired hand with skills that are beyond those of Zero's class. He'll challenge you twice in the game.
The cast members are almost worthless to the storyline and do not play strong roles in the plot. While Alia does provide advice and Lifesavor has his thoughts on Zero and his strange reaction to the Sigma virus, everyone else is just there for nothing. Even Dynamo doesn't play a big role; all he does is challenge you to two duals and he leaves. When you boil down everything, the story pretty much runs without the new cast.
The new bosses can be considered a part of the cast and just as in X4, they're not Mavericks. Instead, the bosses are merely strong reploids with some strange reasons for challenging our favorite heroes. Each of them tells you their reasons when you reach them at the end of their stages. For the Megaman X fanatics, you'll notice that their names have been renamed to members of the band Guns & Roses. By all accounts it's just plain rediculous to give them such lousy names such as Duff McWhalen and The Skiver.
TOGETHER AT LAST
A unique feature about X5 is the different weapons that X or Zero gets depending on who you start as. If you begin the game as X, you'll receive the Force Armor that was previously assembled in X4 (due to Japanese pronounciation, ''Force'' could also be ''Fourth''). It includes the usual Hover Boots, Reduced Damage, Enhanced X-Buster, Air Dash, and the Weapon Energy Saver. However, Zero will not get the Z-Buster Cannon. Go with Zero, on the other hand, and he'll get the flimsy Cannon but X won't get the Armor.
FLEX SOME CREATIVE MUSCLE
For the first time ever, X and Zero have actually been able to do two things: move across horizontal bars and duck. Many problems with small enemies are no longer a problem as all you have to do is crouch on one knee and blast away. Also, moving across horizontal bars adds a new element of strategy in the way you. It's not much but it's highly effective.
UNITED WE STAND
Another feature that X5 has over X4 is the ability to have both hunters on the same adventure, allowing you to switch between levels but not in the middle of a level as in X3. Capcom added some strategy here by placing special items and capsules in certain areas that only allows one of the two hunters to get to. Thus, you must play the level a second time in order to get some items. While this is an idea that worked in Rockman & Forte, the time limit makes it difficult to do it here. You'd have to take care of the colony crisis before making your second trips, which really takes some of the fun out this game.
A new revolutionary feature is the ability to raise either your total health or your weapon energy after defeating a boss. Because bosses can take longer to defeat at higher levels, this is a big plus in addition to the power-ups that can found throughout the stages. But sometimes, you'll see a plus sign in addition to whatever you choose. Read the below paragraph to find out more on this.
Remember the four chips in X3 that gave you special enhancements but you could only have one at a time? Capcom has given a similar system to X5. Each boss has a set level. For every hour that goes down on the clock, the bosses grow higher in level. Once the boss has grown to Lv 9 or higher, defeating him/her will obtain a special attachment that you'll receive after two game hours have passed. You may attach them to add special combat effects such as faster dashes and a Z-Saber extension. Some are designed only for one of the two hunters and the attachments obtained will depend on whether you choose to raise health or weapon energy at the time you defeat a boss. Obviously, this means that you'll only be able to obtain eight of the sixteen attachments so choose wisely if you know what each boss can give you.
One of the most annoying problems that the game has to offer is Alia, who gives you advice as you play through the stages. While it can be helpful to some players, it's usually downright annoying to have to read it and most of time you can easily figure out what to do without her help.
LACK OF MOVIES
It seems that movies aren't a big part of X4. Aside from the cheap intro movie, there are no movie clips in the game and the story is told by the characters in reading. Surprisingly, this is actually somewhat of a good thing. Each of the characters' traits and personalities are well-portrayed in the dialogues and you don't have to deal with the poor voice acting that has plagued both X4 and Megaman 8 on the PlayStation.
In addition to the Force Armor, X can also gather parts to form the Falcon and Gaea Armors. There are four parts per armor, one part in each stage. Usually, you'll need to return to cleared stages with a certain weapon or armor in order to get the pieces, which are stored in Dr. Light's special capsules.
The Falcon Armor allows X to temporarily fly in the air with a protective barrier around him that harms enemies on collision. It is fitted with an X-Buster enhancement that delivers impact shots and reduced weapon energy consumption.
The Gaea Armor, on the other hand, offers heavy duty protection from both enemies and spikes. It also has a quick-charging Buster attack and a close-range Giga Attack. Should you find special crates, you may either destroy them with the Buster or push them with the dash. It does slow down X considerably but at least you can cling onto walls without sliding.
The Force and Falcon Armors can have individual attachments gained from bosses but the Gaea Armor has no open slots for them. There is also secret armor for X and an enhancement for Zero. I won't spoil it for you but here's a hint: you'll also find them in X4.
Now we shall take a look at the game in technical detail.
The graphics are clean and sprites are well done with perfect proportion. You'll have no problem with the visuals. However, there are some points in the game in which you'll see slowdown, but long-time PlayStation owners will have gotten used to the system's poor 2D capabilities that causes these slowdowns.
As an odd twist, Capcom actually worsened instead of improved on the sounds of the game. Some sound effects such as Zero and X's in-game voice clips have been removed (e.g. in X4, Zero says ''get ready!'' when he pulls off a Giga Attack). Since we've lived through three X games without voice, it's not a severe problem to not hear their voices. As for the rest of the sound effects and music, they're all of good quality and the music suits each stage's theme.
The control layout has always been the same for all of the X games. You have the usual Shoot, Jump, Dash, Switch Weapons, and so on but note that you have two shooting buttons. One is to fire an obtained weapon that you had received from a boss while another is to fire the basic X-Buster while you have an obtained weapon activated. This really helps out in certain situations. Once again, Zero has the same layouts but uses the two attack buttons for his different sword attacks. For those who like the default layout, you may also customize the buttons whatever way you want but the controls don't really get any better than the default setting.
The gameplay is purely side-scrolling hack-and-slash all the way. It's a lot of fun going through each stage dodging enemies and figuring out where everything is but sometimes, it does get somewhat repetitive to be doing everything over and over again. Some features such as the Mobile Armor and the Hover Bike help add to the variety in the game but not much. Still, the story should keep the game going for you so you don't get that feeling where you don't seem to be going anywhere.
Megaman X5 is a great continuation of the series but it does have its flaws. The game is a lot of fun to play and it'll last you a good number of hours but some players will get bored of this quickly while others, most likely hardcore gamers, can do with this game for a while.
If you like this game, then I recommend that you try out any of the X games, especially X4. If you like Megaman as a whole, you may want to experience the original series. MM8 is currently available for the PlayStation but you'll need to dig deep in order to find MM7 and Rockman & Forte on the Super Nintendo/Famicom. You'll need to dig even deeper to find the classic Nintendo series but if you do, try out games 1 through 4. MM5 and MM6 were just terrible. You can also get them for the PS but they're too expensive for the few enhancements add to the games.
In X4, Zero's intro movie clip showed that he had a dream in which he saw a mad scientist. Any Megaman veteran can already see who he is but if you want to find out more about this dream, beat Sigma in X5 using Zero and check out his ending. I have to warn you though, most of you are going to hate what happens to Zero in the end.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/01, Updated 07/13/01
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