X-Men: Destiny

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X-Men: Destiny
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X-Men: Destiny
Action, RPG
Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Reviews based on the Xbox 360 version
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Silicon Knights
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Achievement Guide Available
Silicon Knights, the company that brought us the game Too Human return with a brand new Marvel Comics licensed title: X-Mean: Destiny. Unlike many other titles in the franchise, you cont.rol the fates of three individuals as they learn of their mutant powers and suffer the same segregation that they either were for or against in their lives. Your job as a gamer is to guide their fate to either the X-Men or the Brotherhood, and put an end to the tyranny of the U-Men and everyone involved in an assault on the mayor during a Human/Mutant peace rally. With a unique history for each character, does X-Men: Destiny have what it takes to put name of Silicon Knights out there farther then their previous releases did, or does it suffer the same flaws gamers have experienced in the past?

When you start the game, you choose to play as one of three characters. The backgrounds for each do vary, but the thing is that the story itself doesn’t change, and as you go through you will get little bits and pieces of the character’s past, such as one being part of the Purifiers and hearing his dead father’s voice in his head as he makes the decisions. The problem is that, with each person in the game, the decisions you make don’t really alter much in the line of the story. After the attack on the stage and mayor of the city at the aforementioned pep rally, you fight your way through various locations and meet up with various members of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, and really those decisions you make only seem to greatly affect who you team up with until the end. You are given a faction meter and, sometimes, if you’re too far aligned with the X-Men, you will not be able to complete bonus missions you can unlock while talking to members of the Brotherhood, but that really seems to be the only drawback.

One of the bigger gripes is that you play as completely unrelated mutants to the actual comic’s story line instead of the bigger names like Magneto, Wolverine, Cyclops, etc., which is something fans come to expect from a game like this. But, in the end it makes for a story that ends up trying to establish character development, which is done well enough throughout the game, but never enough to the point where you actually care about your characters. It also seems that, like with the animated series, the developers created a new mutant to kill off, which also happens to destroy the point of the faction meter in the game, as shortly after this you have to decide whether you want to align with the X-Men or the Brotherhood, making that faction meter absolutely worthless outside of allowin certain bonux missions to unlock. But, even though you play as a new mutant, the developers try to allow you some of the standard character’s powers by having you collection Suits and X-Genes that you can level up in the form of an RPG style game by collecting orbs and defeating enemies. These orbs will also build up your mutant meter, and your health, all being colored to reflect which one they benefit and can be found all over the place. The problem is that some of these genes can only be leveled up once, and for a small amount of experience. Even when you have them all, trying to level them feels rather pointless, and in the end comes more of a token option on later playthroughs since you can level up your mutant powers you unlock through the game, again by the manner of chosing between two predesigned mutant powers that are original to your character. This helps make your attacks a lot stronger then the Suits and X-Genes do, but for completionists this opens up the chance to do a special attack when you collect the Suit and three X-genes of one mutant and equip them at the same time.

There are three available difficulties in the game, which you can easily change at any time, a nice feature to have if you end up stuck. However, the game isn’t really that hard to begin with. Easy will give you some problems at the end when the difficulty should go past the point of enemies running in and just standing there or moving forward and backward, and the boss battles do end up being a little engaging since you need to learn the patterns. However, when it comes to the boss battles, they often are quite easy, again until you start to reach the end, and the whole game is still pretty simple even on the hardest difficulty. The problem here is that it seems some bosses will break pattern for no real reason, or you’ll hit them and they take no damage. This can really be frustrating, especially as you reach the end when you have to go through three different waves with the same boss, and health is at a minimum due to trying to figure out if the enemy will change pattern or not.

The voice acting to the title isn’t too bad either, and many of the voices do fit the characters better then others, but none ever seem to feel out of place, or better suited to another mutant. It’s obvious Silicon Knights put a good deal of effort into this and the story, though you can’t help but wish that, while there was a good deal of focus on the story, there was a co-op mode included into the game with on-line play. This would be very handy during larger enemies battles in harder difficulties, largely thanks to the somewhat annoying control response time. Unlike many Action RPG titles, this game responds a bit slower, and when an enemy moves, like some of the later robotic enemies and bosses that can get out of harms way in the blink of an eye, your character doesn’t seem to go with the command to turn around and instead will throw one or more punches in the direction he was previously going in, even when you’re locked onto the enemy. This becomes the biggest annoyance of the game and does end up costing you health on more then one occassion.

And that’s not all to the game’s faults. The story itself is a bit predictable, and really the boss variety is not much but it does make sense to the actual comic story line. Again, bosses do break pattern, which can be very annoying, and the ending is actually nothing too secret. Anyone who has seen a film with any sort of twist to it will be able to realize who the bad guy is that did the attack, but chances are good it will only be those who follow the X-Men story who will realize who the actual bad guy is prior to the reveal. There’s also not too much consideration for the new players out there to weave in some history on certain pivotol moments, but that main bad guy does get some background to clue in the uninformed gamer as to who it is. Another larger problem because the sound effects. There are times, such as the battle prior to Johnny Sublime, which cut scenes will play and you hear sound effects of punches making contact, and then they just stop for no real reason. The cut scenes also look fantastic on here, but there’s just so few actual CG cutscenes compared to in-game graphics based dialogue that when they appear, they feel absolutely pointless due to how random they are, the brief moment it takes for them to load, and how pathetically short they end up being.

But while those CG scenes can be rather nice and what fans of the X-Men series would wet themselves over, much like with Too Human the in game graphics are pretty rough for a modern title like this so far into the HD console’s lifespan. Given the trend today of taking older games from the last generation of consoles and upgrading them to HD, this is about that equivalent. In fact, the visuals and the game engine both seem to be salvaged from Too Human, but a little more worse for wear in comparison, and clearly more geared towards a modern urban setting then mythology meets science fiction. Sure they are not exactly like playing a PlayStation 2 or even GameCube title, and they do have better shading, environments and character models, but overall the graphics still look outdated through the game, and really could have just been a lot better in the long run to make the experience a little more enjoyable, especially since it’s essentially the fundamentals of the God of War franchise mixed with Prince of Persia acrobatics, which seems to be all the rage in comic back and film based games, such as with Captain America: The First Avenger and Tron: Legacy.

X-Men: Destiny is a largely unoriginal gameplay mechanic atop a decent story line for each character. Aside learning the backgrounds of all three characters, there’s not much that will draw gamers back into the title for a repeat spin other then the new game plus mode, and the achievements. Once you do finish a character, you can continue the game, choose a new difficulty, and start from the beginning with everything leveled up and all the orbs you had at the end of the first game, which is largely entertaining in itself to tackle harder difficulties, or given how easier the hardest mode is on here, taking your powered up mutant to the easier difficulties and plowing through the hordes of Purifiers, U-Men, and many more that come your way. The only drawback here is that you can choose a new mutant power, ande the experience and leveling of that power does not carry over to the new one and you’ll have to start all over on that specific one, and since the game saves after the choice, if you didn’t mean to go with another attack, you’re out of luck until you earn enough experience to level it back up again. Aside that, you can always go back and replay chapters and challenge missions to try to obtain all the X-Genes and Suits in the game, though some you can obtain by replaying all the challenge missions from the load game screen it seems. Also, achievement hunters will find joy in the amount of story based achievements compared to those you need to grind. It’s impossible to get all of the x-amount of defeated enemies achievements in the first time through, maybe even the second, so having the ability to replay the various challenge missions you unlock in the game is handy as well for this, pulling a little more time with the game for the completionist, even if it is just playing the same missions over and over until you hit that specific kill count.

Is X-Men: Destiny a fantastic game? No, not really. Between the delayed control response, the less then inspiring graphics, and ok but predictable story line with some alright character development, it ends up just as it sounds: Ok. The game is actually pretty short, having the main campaign really seem to end after only eight hours, but in it’s defense you are given two other characters to play as. It’s disheartening that you cannot customize the characters in any way other then the suit they wear, and the faction meter being pointless is also a let down with only one chapter really being altered based on your alliance choice in the chapter previous, it’s safe to say that the choices which are so emphasized as being one of the important elements of game play really seem to be pointless and more catering to fans of larger RPG titles like Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect. But, even with all these faults, the game isn’t that bad. X-Men: Destiny may not be the most engaging, but it’s an alright way to kill a couple hours over the weekend if you’re bored and happen on it at a rental store, and with electronic kiosks carrying games at pretty fare rates, you can probably sit down and finish this game off only having spent even less then one twelfth of the game’s retail price, especially if you’re willing to devote a day to just gaming. In the end, it’s just an average title that’s not worth the full ticket price, but for a casual experience, whether achievement hunting or simply just for the story, X-Men: Destiny does end up being a somewhat fun game for it’s short time span, and is worth a rental at the very most.

Overall Score: 5.5/10