With Activision on another action game based on the X-Men license, one would hope for great things, almost 'X'traordinary things. With a big name such as Marvel, backing up such a trademark such as X-Men, on a game entitled none other than "The Official Game", one would hope for huge things. Well, don't get your hopes up, it isn't all that great, and far from 'X'traordinary in several ways.
To start, I am extremely perplexed on how no one could find the time to create a properly designed inlay for the instruction manual on this title. A multi-million dollar company, hundreds of thousands of copies, a production team for every aspect of the game, and nobody knows how to use Photoshop? This manual is black and white, featuring some bold text and possibly a table or two. I mean, it is a little thing, please, there are some people who like to enjoy a purchased copy of a game to its full extent, including taking a wisp through the manual, and to produce this kind of twenty page illustration (give or take) would not break the bank, or even the pocket for that matter.
Featuring three playable characters, X-Men includes Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Iceman, all highly interesting characters with unique fighting styles, powers, and looks to boot. Wolverine's missions are the standard action sequence, revolving around kicking the snot out of everything within a two-foot radius of your claws. All complete with a "fury" meter, when once full, you get to kick the snot out of everything even faster, to which to I say... wow. Nightcrawler's missions are more so a do-the-same-thing-about-twenty-times-in-the-fastest manner-possible style. He does seem to give a smidgen of flair to the game with his teleportation powers, but it does get old quick, as it is used constantly in navigation and in combat. The acrobatics are only fun to look at for so long. With Nightcrawler, you fill a "shadow realm" metre, with which he can regenerate his health. With Iceman's missions, you're always gliding along a sheet of ice, dodging stuff, putting out fires, freezing pipes, or slaying fiery phoenix's... that's it. The first two characters have about three combos, sure enough you will pull all three in the first rush, never to see a new move ever again. Iceman has two attacks and a shield (an ice beam, an ice projectile, and an ice shield), thus, combos are non-existent.
Graphically, X-Men is decent, but the attention to detail is not there. The size of the levels is quite disappointing, and repeats themselves or play backwards constantly. There are only three characters to play, and a list counted on one hand for those whom you will be so repeatedly bashing into the ground. The enemies re-generate through teleportation glow discs and magic voodoo doors and the objectives usually include the same prop, positioned multiple times for activation, destruction, or repair. The addition of the rag-doll effect on kills is one that almost seems out of place, with quality far superior to this cash-in. None-the-less, it is an enjoyable feature, especially when near tall ledges. The breakable objects such as trees, bushes, and boxes are decent, but not exactly plentiful or beautiful. The effects are attractive, especially on the main special powers. Certain effects such as lighting and shadows do not really exist, but certain other effects like fire, smoke, flowing icy liquids, and flying sparks make a strong attempt to make the lost ground up.
Loading times are quite quick, but are delayed in initiating by a flurry of comic style images blurred into a confusing movie, almost like a quick menu change in a DVD title. The cut-scenes are not planned out very well, both in writing and in style. They are done in a comic book like style, with subtle changes to each shot, illustrating frames in the comic. This is not very convincing, and mostly bring along the conclusion that someone in animation got lazy, as no one ever actually moves the muscles in their lips, or anywhere else for that matter.
Dolby Surround is advertised at the start-up of this title, but for no reason. The game does not proceed with any surround at all, or at least anything spectacular. Sounds in the game are the same, effective, but not impressive. Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming, Shawn Ashmore, and Patrick Stewart all do there part in intertwining the movie experience with the game by doing the voices in cut-scenes and in game.
The objectives never change: kill a pile of enemies, activate a door, kill, activate, kill, kill some more, activate, kill, acti-...no wait, kill then activate (then kill again). The killing part is fun when you find the special X-Men powers amusing, but that river runs dry approximately an hour into the game, which is actually a decent ratio when compared to the total playtime of about six hours.
Unfortunately, this outing of the X-Men franchise is nothing more then a big disappointment in every facet. Maybe I should toss the aforementioned instruction manual into the blue box, as Activision has clearly tried to reduce, re-use, and recycle this video game from previous outings, struggling to provide enough fresh content for a full title (let alone a full manual). In this case, it seems as if the only paper they care for is tinged green.