Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Madcap's Game Reviews - "X-Men: Destiny"

Xbox 360 Box Art

….and then X-Men Destiny happened.  The funny thing, though, is that before the game actually appeared on display at my local Wal-Mart, I had heard absolutely nothing about it. And I mean nothing, which means one of two things.  Either that I’m not on the up and up as much as I thought I was, or the studio and publisher realized they had a massive pile of feces on their hands and wanted it to slip by unnoticed.  Well, from the reviews I’ve read, it certainly hasn’t done that.

So, I figured the only logical step was to subject myself to the potential psychological torture.  Getting the game and now having beaten it…I’m more disappointed than I thought I’d be.  If the title didn’t give it away, the game is about the X-Men of Marvel Comics, a team of people born with strange and wondrous powers who fight a war against others of their kind so they can protect humanity and encourage peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants.

So how can a studio fail to make a good game based on a nearly fifty year long publication history complete with several deep and complex characters and deep, intricate storylines?  In a word: astonishingly.  But does it really deserve all the hate it seems to be getting? No, say, and here’s why.

It’s a beat ‘em up. The game would like to have you think it’s an action RPG, but it’s not.  A drop down menu with one or two word dialogue options does not make it an RPG.  The “moral choices” are strictly to change some minor details. Early on, the player can start earning points towards the X-Men or Brotherhood of Mutants factions and it becomes entirely pointless because the player is then given the option later on of which team they wish to join.

I’d almost liken it to Fable and it’s karma system, except there’s no actual weight to any of the choices. Whether Brotherhood or X-Men, the story ends up panning out the same way. The whole storyline just has the minor changes depending on choices and on which of the three different characters you pick at the beginning of the game.

I’d tell you about the gameplay, but if you’ve played any beat ‘em up, just add some superpowers and you’ve played this.  All in all, I would say it’s something to showcase the X-Men in all their glory to potential fans (and once more just, sarcastic airquotes, bowing before the awesome that is Wolverine), but then the fans are really the only ones who are going to be interested in this to begin with.

It all smacks of laziness and a cheap cash-in.  It’s definitely not worth what it costs and I doubt it’ll even come close to making it all back…

"X-Men Destiny" is now available from Activison and Silicon Knights and is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version.