Monday, October 3, 2011

X-Men Destiny

It is your destiny..........TO NEVER BUY THIS GAME!


 Comic book based video games are a usually unpredictable genre of game in regards to if it is going to be good or not, with some like Batman Arkham Asylum being multiple award winning, critically acclaimed gems worth every penny of their retail price, to stinkers like Aquaman The Battle for Atlantis and Superman 64 which are both frequent candidates for the worst game of all time. Nine times out of ten you can blame Activision Studios whose name you can find plastered on nearly every Spider-Man and X-Men title (and quite a few of those horrible movie tie in games as well); while there are some good superhero games from Activision like the X-Men Legends and Ultimate Alliance (1) games they usually end up as half-baked, steaming piles of wasted potential and X-Men Destiny is no exception.

Upon first hearing of the game's upcoming release in my local GameStop I was certainly excited at the prospect of an X-Men game where you create your own mutant with their own unique set of powers and eventually decide to join either the peace seeking X-Men or the genocidal Brotherhood of Mutants. Thus I immediately put $5 down on the game, however as I began to research it my excitement began to dwindle as I discovered  this game was not quite what the employee told me it was. Instead of creating your own mutant you choose from three pre-made ones as well as only three possible mutant powers, and furthermore the game seemed to be just another mindless beat-em-up game. Ultimately I decided to cancel my pre-order on the game and just rent it on its release date and needless to say I could not have made a better decision.


The plot of X-Men Destiny follows the current X-Men continuity in that Professor Charles Xavier is dead at the hands of the time travelling killing machine Bastion and the X-Mansion has been destroyed leaving the X-Men baseless. The story picks up during a peace rally in the recently segregated California honoring Xavier’s memory in which you take control of one of three awakening mutants consisting of Aimi, a Japanese exile, Grant, a stereotypical college jock, and Adrian, the son of an anti-mutant organization’s leader and the only even half-way interesting new character in this game.

Your mutant’s powers activate when the rally is seemingly attacked by Magneto, forcing you into action to protect both yourself and others from the mutant hating group known as the Purifiers. Along the way your character meets up with various members of the X-Men and Brotherhood such as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Mystique, and Juggernaut each of whom try to influence your decision to join either’s group in the end. This plot is not bad at all but it is definitely hindered by the lack of character development in both Aimi and Grant (should you choose them). Honestly the game’s story seemed to work best with Adrian as he is the only one with a fairly fleshed out backstory as well as an internal conflict with being what his father wanted him to be and accepting the fact that he is indeed a mutant and coming to grips with his powers.

Despite the fact that this game has a pretty good storyline it is completely recycled for all three characters and even bears very few differences in dialogue (once again Adrian’s probably being the most unique). In fact once you choose a character the game acts as if the characters you didn't pick do not even exist and thus play no role in the game at all. Instead of creating three different stories for these three different characters and intertwining them the writers just decided to use one single major plot and only involve one of these characters in the overall story which to me greatly damages the game’s replay value.

Art Direction

Visually this game is as ugly as Toad (thus making him look even worse in this game), and is absolutely inexcusable for a current gen console title (especially on the Xbox and PlayStation versions). The graphics are very dated; looking more along the lines of an early PS2 game. While bad graphics don’t usually bother me much I’m sure that the pickier gamers out there will absolutely tear this game apart based on that fact alone.

 Sound effects are lazily done as well consisting of generic zap and punch sounds, in fact they even use the infamous Wilhelm scream for when you knock an enemy off a ledge, I don’t whether to criticize this for being casually and lazily tossed in or compliment it for being something people can recognize and chuckle at. Continuing on the path of mediocrity is this games music which consists mostly of generic electric guitar riffs that add nothing to the atmosphere of the game and are utterly forgettable.


As stated before X-Men Destiny involves you choosing one of the three possible main characters as well as their core mutant power; the characters themselves are merely avatars and have no differences in gameplay other than aesthetics, the powers however are what determine how your character will play. There are three core powers to pick from consisting of Density Manipulation which allows your character to harden their fists and body into a solid obsidian matter which allows for destructive punches and extra fortitude against damage, Energy Projection which involves the character fighting at range with energy bolts and beams, and Shadow Matter which lets the character conjure blades of black material and teleport making it a combination of hand to hand and ranged combat.

 After choosing a power the game begins and at various intervals (mostly before boss fights) you will gain a new ability based on that power which can be used by expending mutant energy, these abilities can be passive bonuses such as extra strikes or completely new moves like force fields or area of effect attacks. Each character can also enhance their fighting style, defense, and various other utilities with X-Genes, these genes are based on the many different X-Men and grant you additional aspects based on the respective mutant such as Wolverine’s healing factor, Surge’s electricity manipulation, and Juggernaut’s strength (By the way Silicon Knights, Juggernaut is not a mutant……nice research.) As you defeat enemies you gain XP which can be spent to enhance both abilities and X-genes which unlock new moves and bonuses.

Sadly these elements give the game an illusion of depth when in actuality the combat just consists of mashing the attack button over and over again to slay the various hordes of Purifiers in your way and occasionally hitting the dodge button to avoid taking damage. This even bleeds over into most of the bosses fights as all but one of the boss battles in this game involve hitting your enemy to break his shield and then hitting him some more till he fixes said shield rinse repeat, because of this there is very little strategy to the game even on the hardest difficulty which greatly downplays the potential depth from the RPG elements of the game.

There are three things you will be doing throughout this game and they are fighting hordes of the same stupid enemies over and over, protecting and fighting alongside other equally stupid X-Men and Brotherhood members against hordes of the same enemy, and climbing, which is about as excruciating as it sounds. Climbing sections involve scaling walls and pipes which most of the time are electrified and will send you back to the checkpoint in no time.

Like nearly all beat-em-up/hack-and-slash games the camera is pretty bad but in X-Men Destiny it is downright horrible, half the time you take damage is because you get hit by an offscreen enemy’s projectile or melee attack that you could not possibly spot in time while you were wailing away on the other enemies. Also adding to the mix of horrible gameplay elements are the unresponsive controls, it almost feels like there is a delay between pushing the button or control stick and the character taking action which can really hurt you in high pressure situations such as boss fights.

 Length-wise this game only clocks in at about 4 hours! How does paying $60 for 4 hours of entertainment sound? And the worst part of this length is that the game would probably be much shorter if you could skip the same lines of dialogue that the game forces you to hear with each character.

And the absolute coup de grace to the presence of any redeeming features in this game is that despite "choice" being a big part of the game, your choices have absolutely no impact on the game at all. Siding with the X-Men or Brotherhood is ultimately inconsequential as it changes nothing in the story. The only thing that is changed is the team you join in the end and maybe one or two lines of dialogue in the ending scene.


The horrible gameplay mixed with the poor technical aspects make this game a rather miserable experience and offset the decent story as well as rendering the RPG elements entirely pointless. If I could sum this game up in two words it would be “wasted potential”. The makers of this game refused to put in the amount of care required to make a good game instead hoping that the X-Men logo alone would sell it along with the empty promises of depth and choice in gameplay and story. The powers and X-genes could have been expanded upon much more and there could have been a better option for characters in the form of a player character creation instead of three incredibly dull pre-made characters.

 I honestly was excited for this game at first but in the end I was greatly let down as I am sure several people who were also interested in this game are. If you absolutely must play this game just rent for a single day (as that will be all the time you need to beat it with all three characters) otherwise don't bother even looking at it. I believe that if this game existed in the Marvel Universe it would prove to be the perfect piece of evidence for Senator Kelly to have all mutants exterminated.

Avoid it like the abomination it is!

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