Review by discoinferno84

"A secret to be told..."

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After five games, the story of the Mega Man X series finally reached its climatic end. Sigma, the series' main villain, had spread a virus around the Earth, leaving society to crumble into anarchy. He also seized control of the Eurasia space colony and steered it straight into a collision with the planet. With the fate of humanity mere hours away from annihilation, it was up to X and Zero to save the day. After enduring brutally tough levels and slaughtering a bunch of generic bad guys, the heroes finally faced Sigma for the fate of the planet. In an epic duel, the dynamic duo kicked evil's ass and emerged victorious…but not before Zero was gutted like a freshly caught fish. With the last of his dwindling strength, Zero gave his Z-Saber to his partner and died. X was forced to continue as the lone hero, with only the bleak prospect of peace to make his existence worthwhile. Thus the Mega Man X series ended, with an epic but bittersweet finale.

At least, it was supposed to end there.

Apparently, Capcom decided that their beloved series couldn't end there, even if the didn't allow much room for a follow-up story. One that makes sense, in any case. Mega Man X6 picks up three weeks after cataclysmic end to the previous game. The explosion from Eurasia has killed off countless humans and robots alike. Earth has become nearly inhospitable, and the Maverick Hunters have been almost completely wiped out. In the midst of the aftermath, a researcher named Gate explored the ruins of Eurasia, come across some kind of possessed/evil/whatever else item, and began plotting the destruction of the remaining Maverick Hunters. At the same time, the survivors are being plagued with a bunch of freaky visions and altered realities. There's also a supernatural being roaming through the ruins that's haunting everyone's dreams, a ghost that resembles the ill-fated Zero. With everyone going crazy with fear, Gate has dispatched investigators to eight different areas to find out the cause of this “Zero Nightmare” and bring an end to it. With little else to do but salvage his partner's reputation, X has set out on his own to figure out what has happened.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Zero is back, with little explanation given as to how he survived getting turned into filet o' hero. How's that for a plot?

Since he isn't dead, he obviously isn't the cause of the Zero Nightmare syndrome, which means that something's iffy about with Gate's ideas. In order to find out what's really happening, our heroes have to track the eight investigators (aka bosses) and bring them to justice. These baddies come in all shapes and sizes, be it a gigantic turtle that takes up half the screen, a squid in a spacesuit, metal-munching shark. Though they look pretty tough, they can be smacked into submission with little effort if you've got the right tools for the job; once you've taken down a boss, you'll be granted their weapons for further use. Arsenal upgrades aside, you'll get to seek out a wide variety of health boosters, specialized armors, and a slew of other parts to maximize the characters' potential.

That's assuming, of course, that you can make it through the areas to reach the bosses in the first place. Whoever designed Mega Man X6 must be a sick, masochistic bastard for forcing gamers to endure the kind of obstacles you'll face in the game. Each area has been drastically altered by the Zero Nightmare and turned into a chaotic mishmash of platforms and enemies. You'll have to duck under garbage compressors while sliding across sheets of ice, take down squadrons of mini fighter jets while dodging huge flames and lasers being hurled from a giant mecha in the background, and dismantle a weather machine while getting slowly eaten away by a deluge of acid rain. On top of that, there are tons of enemies that take several hits before going down, dozens of levitating bodies that will actively swarm into you from every direction, and tons of spikes and bottomless pits to serve you an instant death. Then there's the small army of Maverick Hunters that have somehow gotten themselves stranded in the levels and need rescuing. Saving them will grant you items and a better score, but the overly bad levels make the extra venture not worth the effort.

It doesn't help that X and Zero have become wimps, either. That last battle with Sigma must have knocked some circuitry loose, because our heroes have become utterly inept in armed combat. X still carries his signature X-Buster, a laser gun that can be charged up for a varying degree of damage. He's also got a hold of Zero's Z-Saber, which could have been a badass addition to his arsenal. The problem is that he has no idea how to wield it; he can only do a forward slice that moves at a snail's pace and delivers little damage. Zero, on the other hand, can dish out multiple slashes and can perform a double jump and a few other nifty attacks, but can only shoot a weak laser blast when he's got both feet planted firmly on the ground. Not only does his sword have pathetic range, but he can be killed off after getting only a few hits from unfriendly fire. When did the Maverick Hunters turn soft?

At least they look good. Mega Man X6 may not feature the greatest gameplay ever conceived, but its presentation is still excellent. You can see the light glinting off of Zero's polished armor and watch as he slices and dices his foes with smooth animation. Whenever X takes a shot, the kickback from blast will send his arm jerking back. The investigators are just as detailed (albeit with fewer animations), complete with bright colors and intricate attacks. Even though the Nightmare Mavericks are a pain in the ass, their flowing tentacles and deadened gazes are still quite a sight. The levels are even more beautiful; you'll get to wander through lush jungles laced with ropy vines, deflect massive laser beams with reflective panels, trudge through powdery snow, and explore huge piles of shrapnel and recycled debris. Too bad the rest of the game doesn't have the same kind of quality.

So ends Mega Man X6. Not only has Capcom given us a completely nonsensical story, but they've botched almost botched everything else as well. X and Zero are still a dynamic duo, but they lack the kind of intensity that their previous iterations enjoyed. Perhaps someone tried to balance things out by making the boss battles pathetic. However, it's the horribly difficult levels that really steal the show. With tons of unnecessary obstacles, an overabundance of enemies, and uninspired designs, it'll be only a matter of time before you throw your controller away and snap the disc in half in a frothing rage. What a way to end the Mega Man X series on the Playstation.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 09/18/06


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