X-Men: Destiny Review
Game: X-Men: Destiny
Developer: Silicon Knights
Available on: Xbox 360, Wii & PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
If you’re a fan of the X-Men universe then you will have been looking forward to this game since it was announced at the San Diego Comic-Con 2010. You may have been watching the coverage and trailers that have been all over GodisaGeek.com over the last few months and you probably read our interview with Mike Carey very closely indeed in an attempt to garner a few more morsels of information that hadn’t been seen elsewhere. Well, the wait is finally over and X-Men: Destiny is in our hands, and then quickly in its respective games console.
Was the wait worth it? For a game the proposes to let us choose our own destiny, what did it choose for itself? To languish in the pit of failed attempts at comic book games or to grace the heights of games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum?
STORY: The story starts as a peaceful rally is attacked by an unknown force. All the people know is that it looks like the work of Magneto, and so what was supposed to be a rally for the co-existence of humans and mutants turns into a panic. Within the commotion your powers, whichever character you’ve chosen to play the game as, activate and you’re immediately given the task of taking out the enemies in the immediate vicinity, while saving innocent bystanders.
In our recent interview with Mike Carey he told us that the story within X-Men: Destiny is in no way canonical to the normal comic book X-Universe, however, there are a lot of similarities. The X-Men have left their school in Westchester in favour of a new life in San Francisco, a city famed for its level of acceptance. Cyclops is in charge of the X-Men and Magneto, at least at the start of the game, is missing. These similarities give readers of the comic books something to grasp onto and to keep them interested within the story, the differences will allow people that don’t read the regular books to get into the story without having to worry that they’re missing some of the back story.
GRAPHICS: Most of the character models and environments are modelled to a good level of detail although some of the lip syncing is more than a little bit off, which is extremely off-putting considering how much time is spent in close ups of people’s faces. All of the characters that you would expect to see from a video game with an X in the title are here, and they all look how you would expect. Even some of the more questionable costumes are here and modelled to a high level of quality and detail.
The animations on most of the characters looks very stiff, similar to how (in the early days of gaming) there would be one running animation, for example, and you would go from standing to running without any kind of transitional animation inbetween. This rigidity occurs across almost all of the characters within X-Men: Destiny and causes them to be very unbelievable as potentially real people. All of the motions themselves are motion captured and therefore look as lifelike as you could possibly get, it’s just the transition between the two or more styles of animations that break the believability and just leaves everything looking a little too stiff for most people’s tastes.
SOUND: The music throughout the game gets a little bit overpowering at times. It often seems very loud, even when the volume is low, and can sometimes drown out some of the speech and effects of the game. The settings can be changed, and I’d suggest that the music is turned down the moment the game starts, but the default settings should be the optimum settings as, generally, people wouldn’t change settings, they’d want to get straight into the game as quickly as possible.
The voice acting is generally done well although it does seem as if there were some weird edits made when the game was finally put together. Some of the characters react strangely to things that are said, such as changing the volume of their voice suddenly to shout at a character that’s stood right next to them, as if things have been changed, cut out or even added at the very last moment. It’s a little off putting and often takes any drama out of the situation by making the character look stupid. It’s a shame too, the voice talent behind each of the new mutants did a good job, for the most part, but they’ve had their vocals cut up and changed to fit the story so much that a lot of the emotion and acting brought through in the characters is lost.
GAMEPLAY: A massive amount of bugs hinder the player on a regular basis, getting stuck in falling animations, multiple dialogue sequences occurring at the same time aren’t uncommon and only serve to infuriate the player too often for them to be easy to dismiss. One of the most annoying examples of these issues, for people that play games with the subtitles on, is that the subtitles often say things that the characters themselves never say, sometimes even giving the whole context of the sentence a different tone in the subtitles that what the character even meant.
Thankfully, the combat mechanics feel good, at least at first. When you don’t have that many powers to call upon, the ones that you do manage to muster will make you truly feel like you’re a brand new mutant who’s just finding out what their powers are truly capable of. However, later on in the game you’ll notice that there isn’t much in terms of variety. You can only do three or four combos and three special moves so you’ll invariably find yourself doing the same combination of attacks over and over again, which obviously gets rather boring after a while.
Upgrading mutant powers and choosing different ones is a good idea on paper but in actuality it takes you away from the game for far too long and the interface itself is too messy to be fun to use. First you have to decide if you’re wanting to equip an offensive, defensive or utility gene (the first two should be obvious, the third – the utility gene – is basically anything that involves movement). Once you’re in the menu system for the type of gene you want to equip, you have to choose a gene by the mutant who that particular gene came from. If it’s a defensive gene from Colossus then you might increase your defence, a utility gene from Quicksilver may enable you to run quickly, and so on. Once you’ve equipped a gene for that one area, you’ve got to do it another two times for the other types. All in all you’re going to be away from the game for such a long time, and you’ll get genes fairly regularly (there are 45 in the game) so you’ll be swapping and changing a lot, that it just becomes a chore to do. In fact, most people will just find a setup they like about half way through the game and stick with that in order to not have to deal with the whole gene menu interface again; I know I did.
The biggest component missing from X-Men: Destiny is the ability to play in co-op. Some of the best Marvel games of the past decade have been co-op experiences and they’ve been good because of that reason, however, it’s nowhere to be seen here. Considering that there are three possible mutants to choose from, and a plethora of opportunities within the game to combine mutant abilities to take down swathes of enemies, it seems more than a little odd as to the absence of at least a two player co-op mode.
LONGEVITY: The longevity of X-Men: Destiny relies heavily on how much each individual person enjoys the gameplay. If it’s something that you enjoy then you’ll have an almost endless amount of replay value with 3 new mutants, 2 possible factions and a plethora of possible mutant powers you can forge exactly the mutant you want, and for either side. If, however, the gameplay feels dull and lifeless after the first, disappointingly short (around 5-6 hours), play through then you’re not going to be interested in the least about starting it all over again. All you’ve got is a short hack and slash title that has cost you the same price as a lot of other similar, but better, games.
VERDICT: If you’re a fan of the X-Franchise then you’re probably going to get a kick out of X-Men: Destiny, at least for a little while. The ability to create almost any type of mutant you want will appeal to the people who have often thought about which powers they would like to give themselves while they’ve read the books. Unfortunately those same people will, more than likely, soon get bored with playing a character that has no ties to the X-Universe they know and love and will find themselves wishing they could obliterate the enemies as Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Cyclops or any number of other, well known, X-Men who make an appearance throughout the game. If you’ve got no ties to the X-Men universe at all then you’re not going to find anything here worth investing your time or money in, it’s a good attempt at a diverse and unique X-Men game but it’s still way off.