Review by eddybagel
"Clearly Rushed and/or Unfinished"
I saw a couple of gameplay videos for this on Youtube and it looked pretty interesting, but I wasn't expecting to be blown away by it so waited until the price came down. I have to say that even at £15 I feel I was completely ripped off. I managed to breeze through the campaign on normal in about five hours and Platinum the game in about eight or nine.
Going through the two playthroughs necessary to get 100% I couldn't shake the feeling that this game was originally intended to be a something completely different: the whole thing is set up more as the basis for an MMO presumably designed as rival for DC Universe but for whatever reason the plug was pulled and what had already been made was crammed into a lacklustre action-RPG, possibly to challenge Arkham City? I have no idea.
Despite coming out just last year, Destiny somehow manages to look worse than the Wolverine game that came out about three years before it. The graphics are undeniably functional, but they are severely lacking in polish, one of the many clues that suggested this game was originally intended be an MMO of some sort, as the graphics would be perfectly acceptable in a world where you are interacting with hundreds of other players, but standing alone there is absolutely no reason for them to look so flat and boring.
As well as this, the three character models you are initially offered all fall into the standard RPG archetypes: the roid--raging brawler for clearing out waves of enemies, and the streamlined build for agility and swift attacks, and the wispy female you can dress in pretty clothes; but you aren't able to customise them in anyway whatsoever, which is unfortunate because all of them, Adrian in particular, look really damn ugly. Speaking of ugly, I hope you like dressing up in brightly coloured unitards, because that's the only thing on offer in the new mutant wardrobe for Destiny. These bodysuits are adorned with patterns resembling the uniforms of the X-Men they are based on, making your character look like a cosplayer who hates himself. Who'd have thought that taking away Wolverine's mask and shoulder pads would make his outfit so ridiculous.
Before beginning your story you are asked to choose from one of the aforementioned new characters: A stereotypical Japanese teen girl, a middle class white boy and a racist. Going back to the MMO thing, these cliched storylines would all lend themselves really well if the game gave you a character building option, letting you choose to either be the mutant who just wants to be accepted, the one who wants their old life back or the one who refuses to accept what they've become; all of which would have serious effects on the faction choices you made.
As it stands, what little plot is present in this game manages to be incredibly disjointed, but basically you find yourself on the precipice of an all-out mutant/human war with Cyclops and Magneto vying for your allegiance on the frontlines. Once again, this would make perfect sense as the set-up for an MMO, as you will often bump into familiar mutants throughout the game who will give you challenges (all of which are a variation of 'kill X amount of guys' or 'smash X amount of things'). Things fall down then, when you meet characters that reference events that either haven't happened or which they couldn't have know way of knowing about.
For example, at one point you'll bump into Toad in the Chinatown stage, and your character will start the conversation by asking 'what's with all the heroics?' This makes literally no sense in the context of anything because Toad hasn't done a thing and doesn't appear in the area until after you finish fighting by yourself and even in the following challenge that he asks you to help with he doesn't actually appear alongside you. Oh, I guess your character could be referring to when Magneto smashed two helicopters into one another, then sent another flaming into the ground. Man's a real saint. The point is, there is absolutely no link between the start of the conversation with Toad and the events that follow or precede it, and it's one of many instances where you get the feeling that you're playing a patchwork game stuck together from the finished elements of a much bigger project.
The combat is reasonably satisfying if occasionally frustrating due to some insane damage ratios and the fact that your character will occasionally get pinned down by a large group of enemies who will strip your health away in seconds. Also, for a game that takes about twenty minutes to install on your HDD, 25 seconds to reload a checkpoint is a bit rich. The only time you'll ever come close to feeling challenged, though, is during the boss fights which are made difficult only by the fact you can't recover health (remember the damage balance issues) and the fixed camera angles that only occur during these battles which make dodging some of the bigger attacks a matter of luck over skill. Also, I can't for the life of me fathom how after the spectacular Sentinel fight in Origins, this dev team managed to come up with a dull, repetitive dodge, dodge, hit the weak point, dodge fight. (Hell, I'd have been happy with them just stealing the one from Origins and copy-pasting.)
Combat be damned, though, the real meat and potatoes of the gameplay is based around your initial choice of a latent mutant ability (I personally opted for the Nightcrawler style shadow moves) which expands throughout the game to give you a few special attacks which range from useless to 'boy this battle is tough I better just hit the win button.' Seriously, the third shadow ability you unlock, fully upgraded, makes you invulnerable and will take out an entire room of enemies in one go.
Adding to your initial powers, you are tasked with collecting and combining X-Genes: powers syphoned from all the original, better mutants you know and love. Yet again, this feature is shallow and completely unrefined, with most of the powers you find being assigned with seemingly arbitrary perks. For example, the perks for using the gene powers of Magneto (who you may remember as being one of the most powerful mutants in the world; able to rip up suspension bridges and throw them at buildings) you get a shield that deflects projectiles, a shockwave that affects only some of your attacks and a hilariously lame little glide thing. Wolverines genes improve the strength of all your attacks, hugely increase heavy attacks and deal lasting damage status effects to all your enemies. And your health and MP regenerates and you get extra health bars.
It's hard to really describe how unbalanced the whole mutant powers thing is, but if you read through a comprehensive list as I'm sure exists somewhere it should become clear that rather than sitting down to think what really defines each individual mutant the devs instead decided to assign powers by throwing darts at a board with post-its saying 'life bar' and 'energy shield' written on it, then adding words like 'ice' and 'psi' as necessary.
The voice acting is largely functional --aside from Gambits hilarious accent, which seems to ping pong between Southern and Jamaican like Joey in that episode of Friends-- which is just as well, because for some reason you can't skip cutscenes. Ever. Nor can you skip the excruciatingly slow instructional camera pans that show you what you have to do to advance the game, despite it being incredibly linear and almost impossible to get lost.
How much replay you get out of this is largely down to how much you enjoy playing it the first time around. The three different characters have different backgrounds, and you will need at least two playthroughs if you want to complete all the challenge missions (some only unlock when you've aligned yourself enough with the right faction,) but the only real other differences your choices make is what ten second cutscenes you see and what character you share excruciatingly long dialogue with. As well as this, there are collectables, but you don't need them all to unlock their corresponding trophies and there's really no other reason to find them (although the character dossiers are mildly humorous).
Even if you do decide to 100% the game and get everything in it, I seriously doubt you will squeeze more than twenty hours out of this title.
No matter what way you come at this title, it is impossible to not see it as a very, very unpolished product. It's largely functional, but as a full-price title there is absolutely no way to justify it's complete lack of depth, sketchy graphics and unbalanced gameplay features. If you can pick it up for ten bucks or under then give it a go, but it is literally worth no more than that; there are games on Xbox Live and PSN for ten bucks that you will get considerably more playtime and enjoyment out of.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 05/29/12
Game Release: X-Men: Destiny (EU, 09/30/11)
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