Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (reviewed on Xbox 360)
Genre: Action RPG/Brawler
Buy on Amazon.com
“Some destinies are chosen. Fight alongside or against the X-Men based on the choices you make.” That’s the tagline on the box of X-Men Destiny. For the first time that I can recall in comic book video games you can take to the street and go up against the X-Men as the Brotherhood. Of course, I sided with the X-men but just having the opportunity to choose your side and thus your destiny is a unique selling point for this game.
First off, I wanted to start by saying that I have seen a lot of negative reviews about X-Men Destiny and, I don’t know if it may be my comic book geek bias but I truly do not know where the negativity is coming from. It’s been cast as a last generation brawler and people have been bitching about texturing and graphic rendering but as I recall, both X-Men Legends games as well as the first Ultimate Alliance game were released on last generation consoles. Those games must have been terrible because they came out before hi-definition TVs, right? And seriously, when is the last time that someone came up to you and said, (insert random game name here) had the best texturing that I have ever seen in a video game ever! It was as if I could see what that brick wall really would feel like. Not every game needs to have cutting edge graphics and variable light sources. Sure it’s expected with the technology at our disposal nowadays but I would gladly take quite a few 8 bit or 16 bit games over a lot of crap out there today. The point of this rant is that, although X-Men Destiny may not have PC quality graphics and it may seem like a familiar gameplay formula, it is by no means a last generation game. Ultimate Alliance 2 was the current gen take on the last gen comic brawlers and it was nothing more than a polished turd to be blunt. That said it is also not without it’s flaws.
With the very first level of the game, the nostalgia factor was in full effect. Much like in the first X-Men Legends game, I started out as a mutant just discovering their powers. You were given the choice of three different mutants but each was just as customizable or not depending on your power choices and gameplay preferences. I chose a young Japanese girl named Aimi who happens to tie into actual X-Men lore. X-Men Destiny takes place in an alternate version of the X-Men Universe. Professor Xavier has been murdered, the X-Men disbanded and relocated to San Francisco and human/mutant relations are tense as usual. While attending a peace rally where the X-Men are planting the seeds of peace, all hell breaks loose. Your undiscovered powers surface and the story unfolds with you making the decisions that form you destiny. Feel like helping out Mystique and Pryo light a roof on fire? Go for it. Want to help Forge free captured mutants? The choice is yours. You also have help along the way with collectible X-genes that allow you to mix and match different mutant powers and character inspired costumes that give you a plethora of various amalgamations. By the end of the game, my character could fly, had a healing factor and could stun enemies with electricity. You don’t get to play as any of the X-Men or Brotherhood characters, which had some people up in arms, but you can do that in just about every other Marvel/X-Men game on the market so I was fine with this.
Now to touch upon one of the sore subjects for others, the graphics. The graphics are definitely not up to par with the big name games like Call of Duty or Gears of War but are by no means last gen. The quality of the graphics does seem to depend on where you are and what you are doing. The levels themselves have more than enough comic book influenced reality and the presentation of the characters, their costumes and their intros are quite unique, with the introduction of characters appearing with a pause in the game, a flash of their name in a bold distressed font with ink splatters and a brief action pose. It was a nice flair to the action. Overall, the presentation was very comic book-y but with not enough style to the graphics themselves. I would have preferred the old cell-shaded look or the comic book style of Borderlands…just something more distinctive but was satisfied nonetheless. I would also like to point out that the voice acting for everyone in the game was excellent and favorite Steve Blum returns yet again to voice Wolverine. He is the cartoon/video game equivalent to Hugh Jackman. Excelsior!
The game itself lasted between 8-10 hours with some OCD item collecting on my initial playthrough and a 100% completion of all achievements should not be very hard at all. After finishing the game you are able to go back and replay any of the levels as well the challenge arenas that you failed, providing you with the opportunity to get the collectibles that you may have missed. You can also make some of the other destiny and power choices that may not be available to you depending on which group you side with. A second playthrough is recommended to get the full experience of “the other side”.
As I mentioned before, X-Men Destiny is not without its’ flaws. The lack of a tutorial explaining some of the deeper abilities in the game such as the mutant power meter and achieving X-Mode are not just hard to find but flat out missing entirely. At some points you are also left wondering where the X-Markers that guide your way have disappeared to and you may be left wondering what the hell and XPmodulator actually does and why it’s there in place of collecting an X-Gene power. The game is simple enough to follow from point A to point B but a larger map icon or quest marker would have been a welcome addition. Even though X-Men Destiny does have replayability with collectibles and challenge arenas it does have an awfully short story mode when compared to the hours upon hours of grinding in the first Ultimate Alliance and the X-Men Legends games. I was hoping for an epic quest that reveled in the X-Universe and may have involved other Marvel characters and canon but the ending rushed upon me without much warning and left me wanting more than just another playthrough. There is also no multiplayer options at all and a game like this just screams co-op!
At the end of the day, I would have no qualms whatsoever about buying X-Men Destiny over again if given the choice. I was disappointed by the shortness of the game but in the 8-10 hours of my first playthrough I was taken back to the Legends series with a modern twist in a much grittier story with a unique mix of mutants to hang out with. I wish that I could have taken the journey with a friend online but I enjoyed the overall experience and I feel that it is one of the better X-Games out there. If you’re a fan of the X-Men or just looking for a good arcade beat em’ up with RPG elements this is a solid time sink.
Bottom Line: A fun action RPG beat em’ up that involves an alternate X-Men timeline as well as the choice to be good or evil.
Favorite Aspects: Fighting alongside the X-Men and Brotherhood while there is chaos all around; the giant boss battles; mixing and matching mutant powers.