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X-Men Destiny [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Everything you will experience in X-Men Destiny you have had before, and better.  The repetitive button mashing combat, the basic dialogue choices, the subpar levelling up system all fail to bring anything fresh to the table.  That's not to say that there is no fun to be had in (insert developer hear) title.  If you are indeed an X-Men fan you still might have to dig deep, but the enjoyable moments will happen.

The Pros: 

+X-men characters look great and they use a healthy variety of them.

+Certain moments in the game pay off and you're left feeling happy that you are a nerd.

+Voice acting for all the main characters feels proper.

The Cons: 

-None of the elements of gameplay feel polished.

-Way too much unused potential for this universe.

-Levels are very linear with a ton of invisible walls.

-None of your choices in the game really feel like they have an affect. Rating : 

Some of my fondest memories as a kid were waking up on Saturday mornings, getting a bowl of the cereal that had the most sugar in it, and sitting a foot away from the TV and watching the 1990's X-Men cartoons.  So you should understand the excitement I originally felt over a year ago when an X-Men action/RPG was announced for current Gen consoles.  You might also, upon further reading, understand my disappointments with how it simply falls short...on almost every occasion.

On paper, and at the time I heard about it, in my head, X-Men Destiny sounded awesome.  Play as your own selected mutant and choose from a variety of powers as you level up? Sweet! Get to make story decisions and end up fighting along the X-Men or Brotherhood?  Holy hell, yes please!  Story takes place in a time that you rarely see in the X-Men universe? Go on!

Sadly, as I stated earlier, it just does not deliver on its great potential and leaves you with a very mediocre gaming experience.

The story in Destiny is one that intrigued me right away.  It takes place at a time when Professor X has been dead for a while, Magneto is nowhere to be found, and the X-Men, led by Cyclops, are trying their hardest to make peace with the city and struggling to remember who they really are.  It is a rather interesting time in this universe and seems to really make sense for the type of role you would assume you would play.  A new mutant struggling with his or her new powers, and with the Professor dead it would be much harder to see all the reasons why you would want to join the X-Men,  and would therefore really help the Brotherhood dynamic. 

That is only somewhat the case.  Right away the first decision you have to make is which of the three pre-made characters you will be. The nice big football jock, the young Japanese girl who had to leave her parents in Japan, or the troubled young man whose father was a big part in the anti-mutant movement.  I found outside of a few unique dialogue choices, picking your character was much more aesthetic than anything else.  All three will be able to choose from the same powers, and you will see the exact same levels and environments regardless.  It would have made more sense, and be a lot cooler, if you were to create your own character at the start, something that just seems to fit in the X-Men world of struggling with your own identity.

Either way you start right in the thick of things.  During a peaceful mutant/human gathering lead by Cyclops and senator Reyes, things go horribly wrong as it seems someone with mutant powers tries to kill the senator by collapsing a metal structure near him, and rumours of Magneto's return start to fly.

This is where you will get your hands on the combat.  There is a light attack, a heavy attack, a dodge and eventually when you get your powers, you hold the right trigger and hit the corresponding buttons to activate them.  It gets incredibly repetitive and I found with a lot of early enemies the simple pressing of the light attack over and over got the job done just fine.  Eventually they will start throwing different enemies at you, some with shields or flamethrowers, but all in all it is rather easy to button mash your way through them all.   The boss fights are very hit and miss, one or two at first gave me a challenge, but that was due to just not knowing the boss' rhythm yet, once trying a couple of times they will become rather easy.  One late in the game however against a sentinel, I rather enjoyed as it mixed everything up just right and felt like an actual bigger than life battle.

You have from three powers to choose from at the start, and each of those will eventually level up and you can choose from variations of those powers, so it's not the same right from the start to end.  The powers are all very basic and didn't really do anything to surprise me. However I did choose the shadow power expecting to be more like a Nightcrawler, but ended up with what looked more like demonic tendrils that I could beat people with whilst bamfing.  Once levelled up the route I wanted I was able to pull of some rather cool combos that made me not entirely disappointed with them.  Also getting to use your powers while fighting alongside other X-Men and seeing their powers in full use is a rather enjoyable nerd moment.

In addition to the basic powers in the game, along the way you will collect x genes and outfits.  These give you additional benefits based on famous characters within this universe. You can have up to three x genes equipped at once, an offensive, defensive, and a movement one such as quicksilvers speed or magnetos flight. There is a bonus to be had if you can collect a set of all similar mutant x genes and their outfit, however the first one I got was Psylock's and I wasn't sure how I felt having my male mutant rocking a very pink getup.  The x genes were a good bonus to add a little more to your character so you don't get overly bored with just your powers, though the outfits all look the same depending on the character you chose just with different colors, so it was never that exciting when I collected a new one. When you do collect a full set however and get to unleash mutant hell, it can be quite fun.

Those fun moments are short lived though. As you progress your way through the story you start to realize your small dialogue choices don't really affect it all that much.  Choosing to go with the Brotherhood might let you see a different challenge level and let you gain more faction with them, but the overall arc and places you will go will always be the same.  It feels like adding the X-Men and Brotherhood faction system was a last minute "you know what would be neat" decision. And it would have been neat, if they had more time to make it have an impact instead what achievement or trophy do I want first.  The story comes off feeling dry, there are definitely cool moments, but the 'what-ifs' you will be asking yourself outplay them by far.

This would not be much of an X-Men game without just that: X-Men. All of the big names you would expect to see are here as well as a lot of not often used ones, and I really enjoyed the representations of them, especially Nightcrawler's. All of the voice acting is well done for all the X-Men as well as the Brotherhood and in this aspect I was very happy.

The characters look good too, which is a shame that all the other character models don't.  Even the world they are in looks very subpar.  The levels are blocky, very linear and way too many invisible walls for my liking.  In quite a few levels they try to add a platform mechanic where you scale walls to reach new areas or maybe collectibles, and it is terrible.  Despite the fact that you can run across these beams on the walls faster than Ezio on crack, it all feels to light and awkward, and seems once again like those "hey this is cool to have" last minute choices. 

Overall the game suffers from unused potential, as I feel this could have been the X-Men game I have wanted.  That's not to say that there is no fun to be had here.  The thing that mainly kept me playing was the chance to see what other characters I would run into, and when I would see one I had that nerd excitement rise up again. It also feels like an odd time for this game to come out as there is another certain superhero game out that takes place in a certain Arkham like city that all the cool kids will be playing instead of this.  If you were never a fan of the X-Men then I would really suggest not playing this, as you will gain nothing from the basic combat and mediocre gameplay.  But if you remember those Saturday mornings like I do, you might get to see past the problems and have, albeit a little bit of fun.

This review is based on and Xbox 360 version supplied by the Publisher.

X-Men Destiny
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Silicon Knights
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Nintendo DS
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Price: $59.99