Review by neothe0ne

"Many steps in the right direction, but needs fixing"

X starts with the full armor from X4 (minus the Nova) in his story
Can use both X and Zero in the same game, even though there are two seperate stories
X and Zero can now duck
Addition of horizontal and vertical hanging ropes
Addition of many new and unique armors for X
Zero has a Buster in his story
Great, diverse soundtrack, featuring the missed guitars!
Addition of cutscenes
3 levels of difficulty to suit the casual or extreme gamer
Essentially unlimited lives because of the dying/continuing system

Ducking is absolutely essential to gameplay
Buster shots don't go through walls anymore
Zero has to shoot standing straight up and not moving, and his shots are weak
Most of the game is really easy, but some areas are just insane
Your actions are timed with the "16 hour" countdown
Upgrades/findables are going to be on one character only, so you need to plan who to use
No movies at all, unlike in X4
Essentially unlimited lives because of the dying/continuing system
Most music is either not catchy or remixed from the SNES titles

Mega Man X5 is Capcom's second try with the series on the PlayStation. While the game is techincally much, much better than Mega Man X4, there are a lot of balance issues that duck a lot of points from this game. If you can overlook the slight and few flaws, Mega Man X5 could easily be your favorite Mega Man X game of all time.

There have been a few changes at Maverick Hunter headquarters. Dr. Cain has simply vanished from the game. You've got a new helper who communicates with you while you're in the field, named Alia. And X and Zero have some new friends, including a commander named Signas and a technician named Douglas. The story starts like this: the character whose story you chose is now being controlled by you. The opening stage is a highway, similar to that in Mega Man X1, with similar enemies too, and you're trying to meet up with your conterpart (either X or Zero). On the opening stage, there are pits, closing walls, and falling ceilings, so it's slightly more challenging than X4's opening stage. On your way through every level, Alia will communicate with you, and in the opening stage, he acts as a tutor, telling you about ducking and hanging ropes. At one point, the ceiling will fall, and you have to duck to survive it. Once you go through the boss gate, the Warning sign flashes like in X4, and your counterpart teleports in, looking very hurt and damaged, maybe with an arm or two hanging out. X and Zero talk over how they feel Sigma very close, and this is where a later part of the story becomes obvious: something is up with Zero. Then, Sigma's head appears after the statue in the background explodes. Here is another place where ducking is near-essential. If you duck, charge, and shoot while ducking, or duck and slash, there's almost no way you can take any damage at all. Again, ducking is a new feature, and it's a good feature, but Capcom put too much emphasis on it. Some of the normal boss fights also involve ducking, but it doesn't garantee you safety as much as this Sigma boss. Now that you've cleared the opening stage, you'll learn that when Sigma exploded, he spread a Sigma Virus all over the planet, and that the Reploids have panicked and some have already gone Maverick. You also learn that the space colony Eurasia is on a collision course with Earth, and it'll crash in 16 hours. You'll collect 4 parts for the shuttle to suicide into it, and optional four parts for the broken-down Maverick Hunter canon, for a total of 8 stages as usual, but only four of them being required. It's worth noting that in the manual, Capcom gives a set of names for the bosses, but in the game, they use a different set of boss names. The set of boss names in the game are all Guns N Roses things, and while you probably won't care about their names as it doesn't affect gameplay, it is awkward.

If you're playing as X, you'll notice that he has his full armor from Mega Man X4, including the Hover Boots, Air-dash, and Plasma Shot, but not including the Nova Strike. If you're playing as Zero, you'll notice that he has a Z-Buster, similar to the one found in Mega Man X1 and 2, and that he can air dash. It takes a second to charge and then shoot, and it's pretty weak, so it's not nearly as useful as the X4 armor X gets. You also have to stand straight up to shoot, and if you're moving or ducking and press shoot, Zero will stop and stand up, charge, then shoot. This almost garantees damage. Note that the Fourth Armor and Z-Buster are unique to their respective stories, so you can't have Zero shoot in X's story and don't have X's armor in Zero's story. When you start a stage, one hour will be subtracted from the 16 hour countdown. You can choose who to enter it as, so in the X story you can choose X, Fourth Armor X, or Zero (without the Buster). Note that in the Zero story, you can only choose normal X or Zero. At the end of every level, you'll receive a Mission Report from Alia that tells you how long you took, how much damage you took, how many Mavericks you killed, and it'll have an effect on your rank. Note that you can now save 15 times, unlike the 3 in X4!

The Sigma Virus that affects the other Reploids also affects X and Zero. There is a virus meter at the bottom of the screen that tells you your level of infection. The more infection X gets, the more damage he takes over time. However, when Zero gets more infected, he becomes invincible! (Here's another indicator that something's up with Zero.) After you collect the four shuttle parts, the shuttle will launch, with Zero in it, and the final stages will open. You can also collect the four parts for the canon too, as well as getting the remaining weapons and upgrades. Note that the weapons/techniques you get from bosses are shared by both characters regardless of who beat the boss, but that heart tanks and other upgrades are NOT shared!

The graphics of Mega Man X5 are generally better than those found in X4. The backgrounds seem more detailed, and the character models look better. The death explosions of X and Zero have been made faster than it was in X4, and they look better. The backgrounds seem more detailed, as well as textures of models.

The music in Mega Man X5 varies greatly in style, and while some of it's really good, most of the music is simply average. It's worth notice that the guitars that were missing from Mega Man X4 have made a return in X5, and with great effect. The Title theme of Mega Man X5 is a remix of the Zero dialogue theme from X1, and it features a very cool and catchy guitar riff at the end. X's theme is decent, and Zero's is slightly better, but they don't match up with the high-quality X4 themes. The stage themes are also pretty sub-par with X4, although they do feature the return of the guitars. Other music taken from the past SNES games include the Rangda Bangda theme (taken from Vile/Vava in X1), Tidal Makkoeen's stage (Bubble Crab from X2), and the Dr. Light theme (the same as the one in X1), all of which sound great. There's even a return of an NES theme, Black Devil's theme taken from the Battle music of Mega Man 1! Now, most of the other boss themes in X5 are both original and good. Sigma's battle theme for the Opening stage has a deep-bass background to it, with high-pitched xylophone beats as the melody. The regular Boss theme sounds slightly like a mix of Disco and Techno, features guitar in the second half, and just sounds cool. Dynamo's theme is VERY cool, featuring both the high-pitched xylophone sounds and guitar riffs, and the end result is a very catchy tune. However, the best song in the game, and probably of all time, is the X vs. Zero theme. This has a deep-bass repeated drumming like the first Sigma theme, and it features guitar and the high-pitched xylophone sounds. The Dynamo and X vs. Zero themes were so good that Capcom even took them to Mega Man X6, too.

The sound effects of Mega Man X5 have had many changes from X4, and most of them, if possible, sound worse than in X4! The guy who says Ready sounds like a robotic crybaby. Zero's voice actor sounds like a guy saying "huh" all the time, then getting his voice muffled. He also sounds less manly than the Zero in X4. X no longer sounds like a girl, and he probably sounds right now: like a teenage boy at the end of puberty. The Saber slash sound sounds slightly different now, almost like it's more fuzzy than before, but the shot sounds are still the same. It's worth noting that X and Zero don't have any almost-dead statements like "It's not over yet!" and "Time to get serious!", and they usually don't make any voice noises at all with their actions. Only occasionally will you hear Zero say anything in his three-slash attack, and jumping and landing noises have been made much less annoying because of this.

Now, difficulty is something that Mega Man X5 varies greatly on. The game is defaultly set on Normal difficulty, with Easy being easier and Xtreme being harder. The only real difficulty you should have on the Normal setting is with a few picky stages, like the final stage lined top and bottom with spikes or mile-long holes. Very few bosses should give you too much trouble, especially if you're using the weapon/technique that they're extra weak against. The boss models look great, but they lack strategic value. It doesn't require all that much strategy to beat them, since most of them have no useful techniques to use against you, unlike in X4. Bosses aren't as stupid and weak as in X4 when you use their weakness against them, however, so it evens out... almost. Boss health bars have level numbers rating them, too. Beating bosses on higher difficulties also give you parts that you can equip to make the game easier, and you can choose a health or weapon bar extension. The problem with this, and with heart tanks, is that they only affect the character that beat the boss or picked up the heart tank. This can cause some grave balancing problems later on in the game if you don't plan well, and these are permanent decisions. If you're playing as X in X's story, he'll rock from beginning to end, starting with the X4 armor and ending with multiple armors with Nova Strike, rigged invincibility with the Falcon Fly, and the ability to simply hang on a wall and stand on spikes. Using Zero is another story, though, since his Saber is his one good weapon and his Buster is near worthless. If you're a hardcore Mega Man fan, and you've perfected the art of the platform style, you may want to play as Zero to raise the challenge.

Another thing to note is that when you collect the parts for the canon, the game will randomly select whether or not the space colony gets shot down or not! While you can simply reset and start from the last save and retry, it's annoying that you aren't always rewarded for collecting those four parts. Also, you can choose to go to the final stages without defeating all 8 Mavericks, but it isn't very smart to go to the last part of the game with minimal abilities!

Mega Man X5 introduces a lot of new stuff to the Mega Man X world, but it's fudged a couple of tried-and-true things that the past Mega Man X games have used. While most of the new content makes this game better than most others, only a few small fixes would have made it so much better. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth an addition to your collection, and why miss out on a Mega Man X game anyways?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/27/05

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