Tuesday, August 26, 2014

X-Men Destiny

X-Men Destiny Review

Kid Safe: High (7.0  / 10)                             Game Quality: High (7.0 / 10)

Genre: Action/Adventure
-          This game is identified by its action-based tone of gameplay that focuses on one or more characters being faced with a challenge and going on an adventure to solve it through puzzle solving, avoiding obstacles, and battling enemies with multiple forms of weapons and attacks.

Internet Requirements: None
-          X-Men Destiny, to the best of the reviewer's knowledge, does not feature any kind of internet-based service. It does not feature any online multiplayer, "score keeping"/leaderboard, or downloadable content services.

Story Summary:
-          X-Men Destiny picks up during the current events of the X-Men comic book series; but
don't worry, they do a decent job filling in the gaps for those that haven't read them much. In this game, you choose one of three different characters who have just discovered their mutant powers: a refugee from another country, an aspiring high-school football player, and the tormented son of a "Purifier", i.e. mutant hunter. When a rally attempting to promote peace between humans and mutants is attacked by an unknown force, rioting and chaos spills into the street as groups of Purifiers and "U-Men" begin to hunt down mutants, who they blame for the attack. Not only this, but the two bands of mutants, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, are now both at each other's throats thinking that one is at fault for the attack. Now you must choose: not only your mutant powers, but who you will side with in this conflict that is looking to tear the whole of San Francisco apart.

Kid Safe: High (7.0 / 10)
-          Foul Language: Low
o   X-Men Destiny contains a relatively low amount of foul language in the form of the following words: "a*s", "h*ll", and "d*mn". These words are generally used infrequently at most and are generally specific to certain individuals; probably the worst offender being a character named "Surge" who uses the words roughly half a dozen times through a specific conversation. These words are generally used in situations of extreme frustration, annoyance, or anger.

-          Violence and Gore: Moderate
o   X-Men Destiny features a moderate amount of violence with very few notable scenes of blood and gore. In this title, one of the primary focuses through gameplay will be fighting and defeating large groups of enemies that are attacking you. These enemies generally include humans, i.e. "Purifier" and "U-Men" members who often wear combat armor and attack you first, other mutants, and robots. Players are unable to attack innocent, non-combative civilians or mutants. Players will use a wide array of mutant powers and capabilities that include laser-beam like attacks, ethereal blades and projections, and solid rock wrapped around the character's hands  is used to punch enemies.

o   Combat in the game is generally more action-packed rather than gruesome. Enemies will attack from all sides, keeping the players on their toes as they fight. Enemies will fall back from attacks as though they had been attacked. When defeated, enemies will collapse or fall down on the ground and simply disappear. Combat does not show any explicit scenes of blood or gore. Do note that, if an enemy is knocked off of a ledge, building, bridge, etc. the enemy will let loose a scream as they fall and will not return.

o   Aside from combat, there are some scenes that require note. For one, while in the U-Men facility, players will see some disturbing scenes of violence. There are scenes of bodybags being tossed into a truck. There is a scene where an incapacitated mutant is dragged into a cell and then beaten before the player's character, lying on the ground and holding his hands up as his captors beat him with a rod. There is also a scene where a man injects himself with a hypodermic needle and the camera shows the view from his bloodstream of the tip of the needle entering the bloodstream. Finally, scenes with the character Wolverine feature the mutant fighting a number of enemies; several times Wolverine sticks his claws into the enemy's chest or gut, however no explicit scenes of gore or blood are visible...not even a hole.
-          Sexually-Related Content: Very Low
o   X-Men Destiny features a very low amount of sexually related content that relate primarily to skimpy dressing and some minor innuendo. Starting off with the dressing, as anyone who has read a comic-book or scene a comic-related movie, the dress attire is occasionally revealing. Several women in this title are wearing costumes that reveal an ample amount of cleavage. Aside from that, there are several comments that have a sexual overtone; "Hey, find me a chick with super flexibility!" and "Then I'll pick out some girls for you freaks."

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: None
o   To the best of the reviewer's knowledge, X-Men Destiny does not contain any kind of drug, cigarette, or alcohol usage.

Game Quality: High (7.0 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: Low
o   Oh boy. It's a little disheartening to say that, for a game that is based on a largely visual medium, i.e. Comic Books, the graphics and visuals in X-Men Destiny are just plain bad. To the game's credit, they at least tried with what they had and added in a number of very cool elements. Examples of this include a look at San Francisco as it is slowly falling apart from the in-fighting going on as well as some very cool "text effects" where text will suddenly fly onto the screen in a very comic-book style fashion. While these things are certainly cool to look at, they do not have nearly enough weight to save this game's graphics.

o   Narrowing it down, the game has two major flaws. The first problem is character design. Starting off, the characters themselves just do not look up to snuff compared to a large number of games that are being released today. Poor facial animations, emotions, and expressions often turn the characters into very robotic looking people that have their expressions literally painted onto them. Aside from the "known" characters and mutants from the comic books, the enemies that you fight are incredibly generic and come with very little variety. I think I counted less than a dozen different enemy designs in the entire game with the exceptions with the obvious exception of when you have to fight a known mutant character. Fighting carbon cut-outs just doesn't get you too far when you progressively have to fight more and more enemies near the end of the game.

o   The second major issue is a matter of polishing. I had to contain a giggle when I started playing through the game and the smoke, explosion, and fire effects seem like they are from ten years ago. Ontop of this, there are many, many scenes in this game that could have used some extra work to clean up exceptionally rough edges and very low resolutions. What this means is that you end up having a very fuzzy, distorted, blurry, and choppy looking picture quality on this game that should be performing at a much higher level.
-          Audio: Very High
o   Luckily for the X-Men, their sound quality is much better than their video quality, and the team did a great job in really using the game's audio to make an atmosphere that the graphics didn't quite accomplish. First off, allow me to praise the voice actors. While there are one or two actors that generally were unimpressive, sounding more like they were just reading off their lines, they were the exception rather than then rule. Most every voice actor is spot on and well-done with them properly portraying everything from frustration to happiness to anger to sorrow simply through the tone of their voice. Plus, every actor is well-matched to previously established voices for the mutants in question; a good thing given X-Men has been running for so long now.

o   Aside from the acting was the music. Building on top of both the acting and the action, the music really helps to build the tension or the atmosphere in the game. While many games really boast hard rock songs that get your heart pounding for chases or fights, very few can claim that they catch your attention with a guitar. There was a fascinating little bit in the game that did not feature any background music short of a couple of notes on a guitar; however this piece was so simple and went along with the tone of the gameplay so well that I found myself enraptured by these few simple notes. Very well-done. This is, of course, forgetting about the well-toned action music such as hard rock, techno, and rhythmic drum beats that make the score for this game a winner.

o   Finally, and often left unnoticed in these reviews, is the matter of sound effects. Now, generally we don't try and cover this too often because we just can't honor these effects right, but X-Men deserves special praise. The team did a great job in adding in little bits here and there that really caught my ear. Wood softly shaking and rattling under you as you run, or creaking over your head. The soft tink of metal or zap of electricity. The howl of wind or sirens or crumbling in the distance. These were all well done and I think deserve mention.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   X-Men fell just short of a very high rating because of some issues in combat. However, before we get into that, allow us to cover the matter of Playability. This title does an excellent job catering to both the newer and the more experienced players. Players are able to choose their difficulty (easy, medium, or hard) at the beginning of the game and are able to change it at any time during gameplay. Likewise, as the game starts off, it does an excellent job in introducing just about every facet of gameplay in a controlled and simple to follow manner. Everything from walking around to using your mutant powers is explained in a set of instructions that will pop up on screen that will only leave when you tell it too. But don't worry! You can always look up those controls again at anytime. On top of this, the game does a fair job of always pointing out where you need to go or what you need to use with simple but visible icons. Players can almost always see a ray of light or an icon indicating where they need to go. Similarly, icons will specify the top of attack or power that you have to use on certain puzzles in the environment so that you can get started.

o   The customizability in gameplay was some of the coolest I have seen recently and especially more than I had expected out of an X-Men title. The game literally will freeze just before something major happens (the first time right as a car is flying at your head during the rally attack) and allows you to choose your mutant power. This happens several times throughout gameplay, always giving you multiply options to choose from. On top of this, players are always able to find and use "X-Genes" that will give them access to powers or similar abilities from more famous mutants like Wolverine, Juggernaut, and Cyclops. From there, players will not only be able to mix and match these X-Genes and their mutant abilities, but they can also use "XP" that they collect to make their attacks more powerful and unlock even MORE capabilities. Even doing the math briefly, that means that the number of different combinations for combat and gameplay are HUGE.

o   The one major problem boils down to the combat. While I must say that the fighting in the game is actually very smooth and fun, especially integrating all of the customization and cool mutant powers, there is one major flaw. The combat is just shallow. As awesome as it is, we already touched on just how few different "types" of enemies there are. This turns to the game into little more than a hack and slash where players are just endlessly beating up the same archetypes of enemies without any major variation short of the game throwing more and more at you. This makes less for exciting combat and more of a chore.
-          Dollar-Value: Moderate
o   Overall, X-Men Destiny has a moderate dollar value. The game is sadly rather short, boasting somewhere between 5 to 7 hours of gameplay to beat the title's story. While the game boasts a truly impressive amount of gameplay, I can't imagine that there is much reason to play through the title again unless you are simply interested in seeing how the three different characters react to the same situations. When you couple this with the kind of rough graphics and occasionally shallow combat, it might be better to hold off and wait for the price to drop a bit. While I really did enjoy the game and I think it would be a good choice for some younger players, I also can't say that I feel it's really worth dropping full price for this title.

-          As a highly child-friendly title, we do not have too many other recommendations. However, if you and your's are super-hero fans, you might also check out the Marvel Ultimate Alliance or the X-Men Legends series. Likewise, if you are looking for a comic-book game aimed towards a slightly older audience, you might also appreciate Batman: Arkham Asylum.

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