Tech News on G4
'X-Men: Destiny' for true fans only
Oct 24, 2011
By John Powell - G4 Canada
The brainchild of comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, 'The X-Men' have been the cornerstone of the Marvel universe since 1963. Although they have split off into different groups and their membership has changed over the years from the bestial berserker Wolverine to the shaggy egghead Beast, the misfit mutants have endured even the loss of their beloved mentor: Professor Charles Xavier.
The Dark Phoenix Saga. The Age of Apocalypse. Fall of the Mutants. House of M. Days of Future Past. There are so many epic X-Men storylines, how could you possibly screw up any movie or video game about them? Well, the entertainment industry has and will. The latest game based on the X-Men mythos – X-Men Destiny – sorta reminds me of the career of the mutant songstress Dazzler. With her ability to control sonic vibrations, Alison Blaire could have been a powerhouse member of the team. Unfortunately, she is a bit player. X-Men Destiny is much the same. It could have been something legendary but instead it never reaches its true potential.
From all of the trailers leading up to its launch, you would have thought that Destiny had much in common with other X-Men RPGs like the amazing X-Men Legends series also published by Activision. It really doesn't though. You don't have as much freedom to evolve your character as you would think. The first shocker is you are given a choice of three newbie mutants to choose from. Their names, physical appearance, clothing and gender are already determined. You are not creating a character from scratch or forming something unique or personal to you.
You do get to decide which powers your mutant will have; however, there are several catches. The choices are very, very limited. At the start, you are asked to pick one of three core powers: density control, energy projection or shadow matter. Secondly, to boost those powers or gain new ones, you have to collect enhancements called "X-Genes" and "Suits" by besting challenges or defeating enemies. Every X-Gene can unlock three types of abilities: offensive, defensive, and utility. You can mix and match these abilities which are based on pre-existing characters. You can have the armored skin of Colossus and the kinetic energy manipulation of Northstar or the healing factor of Wolverine and the density control powers of Kitty Pryde. For fans, it is great to mix and match mutant abilities still, like the rest of the game though, your selections are far too narrow.
In case you are thinking about it, you can forgot about those Fastball Specials or anything of that nature, 'Destiny' is not Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which perhaps should have served as this game's inspiration or template even. This is a plain and simple button masher with the occasional super move thrown in against the same handful of enemies. There's no real strategy, no real plan of attack, except when it comes to the boss battles. They are ingenious and fun, one of the only bright spots, actually. Be warned: You must hunker down to get through the Sentinel skirmish during the endgame. It is merciless.
If the monotonous clashes don't wear your patience down, the dated graphics and the unfinished nature of the game might. Destiny's graphics are bland and washed out. Even the X-Men's colourful costumes don't shine through at all. The game itself suffers from the occasional glitch and just plain poor programming, development. Example: Competing with Wolverine in a challenge to obtain the most kills, I was rewarded with an X-Gene. Before collecting it, I took a step forward which to my dismay triggered a cutscene. Wolverine went beserk and brings a cave wall down blocking my path to the X-Gene. With no way around, I had to cut out of the game and replay the entire challenge again just to claim my prize. Not acceptable, folks. Not acceptable at all.
Canadian developers Silicon Knights must be commended for a storyline and character appearances that will thrill fans. Having the option to fight alongside the X-Men or The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants against the Purifiers, an anti-mutant extremist organization and their leader Cameron Hodge, is a fan's dream come true and so is interacting with other characters such as Northstar, Forge and Colossus. While they may have been faithful to the comics, the overall delivery and the overall package, pales in comparison to Ultimate Alliance, DC Heroes or even Champions Online. Silicon Knights doesn't seem to realize that the bar was raised years ago and X-Men Destiny doesn't measure up.
As Professor X once said "The greatest power on Earth is the magnificent power we all of us possess, the power of the human brain."
In this case, it is too bad Silicon Knights didn't use more of the creativity and imagination we all know they have as one of Canada's premiere developers.
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