A new child of the atom
I think it’s every geek’s dream to develop superpowers in some way. And so like moths to flame we are drawn to games where we can not only play as our favorite heroes but can craft our own personal character in the universes we have come to enjoy through various forms of media. So as a diehard X-Men fan, I was particularly stoked about the release of X-Men Destiny.
Based in the X-Men universe, this is an original story line inspired by, but having no direct tie-in to, the ongoing monthly comics from Marvel. You play as one of three new mutants attending a peace rally in San Francisco as the relationship between human and mutant grows more strained by the day. After an apparent attack on the crowd by Magneto causes panic to spread amongst the crowd, your powers manifest as you attempt to defend yourself. As you learn about your newfound abilities, you’ll uncover a conspiracy that will shake the mutant world to its very core, all the while you make and break alliances with both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
The anticipation I had for this game’s release was soon replaced by disappointment. The best way I could describe how X-Men Destiny was that it felt incomplete. The game is riddled with glitches, has an inconsistent checkpoint save system that sometimes places saves right on top of one another or places them at opposite ends of levels and makes you replay the whole thing over if you die, and the plot, quite simply, is just too damn short for a proper X-Men game, no matter how well written it may be. I beat the entire thing, on the hardest difficulty, in less than eight hours.
I was also displeased with the three character stories and power choices we were forced into. Instead of letting the player truly craft a character they could relate to, you are forced into one of three outlandish protagonists and follow their story as it unfolds. Since many action/adventure games actually do this, it’s not the concept that bothers me, its the fact that the game tries to sell itself as an RPG that gives you a lot of choice and this is simply not the case. And to make matters worse, the few choices you are given are so spread out throughout the game that you never reach your full potential until the very final level of the game. And again, this goes back to the length of the game. Just when you seem to start hitting your stride with whatever powers you were pigeonholed into, it ends.
Mind you, there are some positives to X-Men Destiny. The plot, written by X-Men: Legacy writer Mike Carey, is worthy of the X-Men universe and features cameos or the chance to fight alongside many of your favorite characters while taking on classic X-Men threats. Whether you choose to be good and trade quips with Iceman against the Purifiers or be bad and burn stuff to the ground with Pyro in a U-Men bunker, when the game has you working with your favorite characters on the missions, you actually feel, albeit briefly most of the time, like an X-Man.
The audio was also very good as the music helped set a mood worthy of an action game and the voice acting was superb. Nolan North, better known as Deadpool in most other X-Media, came on to do Cyclops and surprised me as the stoic and steadfast leader of the X-Men. Include other voice over royalty like Phil LaMarr as Gambit and Forge, Yuri Lowenthal as Nightcrawler, Jason Marsden as Iceman, Fred Tatasciore as Juggernaut, and Steve Blum returning to reprise Wolverine and the voice over work in this game is as good as any other cast of X-characters represented in animation or other games.
Still, as good as it felt to fight alongside some of my favorite comic book heroes in this game, there are just too many shortcomings to make X-Men Destiny as special as many of the characters it features. My recommendation is that the game is worth a rental, but is only worthy of purchase by the most diehard of X-Men fans who will play through it several times, despite the glitches, and try to collect the several dozen collectibles featured in the game.
SUMMARY: Short, glitch-riddled, and lacking the choices of a true RPG, X-Men Destiny falls short of the high expectations of most X-Men fans and should only be checked out by the most forgiving of souls.
- THE GOOD: Fighting alongside many of your favorite heroes from the comics
- THE BAD: A surprising lack of choice given to the player for an RPG
- THE UGLY: A lack of polish shows up often considering how short the game is
X-Men: Destiny is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo DS. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.