A production powerhouse in the world of comics, Marvel Comics was responsible for Heroes such as Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four etc. but one of their most successful creations comes in the form of the X-men, a mutant superhero team with many incarnations in the comic world, as well as spawning 2 movies and a multitude of games. X-men: Legends is the latest addition to the Marvel gaming stable.
X-men: Legends sees you leading the X-men against The Brotherhood, who are on the move while at the same time, hostilities between mutants and humans are growing rapidly; with the Sentinels being used in increasing numbers. This puts increasing pressure on the team as there are only so many X-men and way too many situations to deal with. It is up to you to guide the X-men to success in the many endeavours you’ll encounter in this game.
The characters are definitely nice to look at; they seem to be a blend of cel-rendering and 3D rendering; although if you’ll notice the Xmen’s costumes, they resemble their movie counterparts with the sleek leather and ultra modern look. Some of the X-men also look very different in this video-game offering; Beast actually looks more like a blue colored human rather than a primate and Jean Grey had her hair cut for some apparent reason. Not that it’s a bad thing, its just interesting to see the developer’s new take on said characters. Magneto and his brotherhood look as bad (not in a bad way!) as ever, their designs are more faithful to their comic incarnations, although Toad is the exception to the rule as he looks like some two-bit punk.
Xmen: Legends definitely runs smoothly on the XBOX as the animation is well defined and framerate is at an optimum level. The different movements of each character are a testament to the good animation work done by the developer on this title. Although the animation definitely runs nicely, there is still an issue with speed, as when you’re playing this game you’ll wish that it were a tad faster.
The X-Mansion, the streets of New York, the Morlock tunnels, the Weapon X Facility and the European Sentinel factory are just some of the places that you’ll see in Xmen: Legends. Also cel-rendered, each level has its own style, ensuring no monotony in the visuals as you progress. The overall level design is definitely excellent in this game, as different places require different methods of navigation and usage of Mutant Powers. The environment is also highly interactive; although not everything can be broken, rest assured a lot of the things found in the levels can be destroyed; with certain things giving out health packs or energy packs. A good rule of thumb is to always have Iceman with you as there’ll be many occassions when an ice-bridge is needed. The environment is also very interactive, try not to get too carried away with destroying anything and everything in sight!
The controls in X-men: Legends aren’t very intuitive and require somewhat of a learning curve. The basic attack/melee button is “A”, the jump button is “Y”, the “X” button for interaction with objects makes that button arguably the most intuitive as a lot of games use that button as a default for interaction. The Right trigger brings up the mutant ability screen and depending on which button you push, the character performs the chosen ability. Once you get the hang of it though, it shouldn’t be too hard, with the occassional slip-up that is.
X-men: Legends is defined as an RPG, and like in all RPGs, it is a pre-requisite that the characters must level up. This upgrades their current power levels, as well as letting you choose which of their mutant abilities to progress. One example is Wolverine, where you can either upgrade his Claw Slash, Beserk Fury or Healing Factor, among other things. The levelling-up game mechanic definitely adds depth to the game, and as you go along, the opponents also become harder, in accordance with your characters’ overall abilities.
Its always a joy when the developer goes to extra lengths to make sure that each character is unique from the other, and in X-men: Legends, this is definitely the case. When you come to the character selection screen, you must think carefully as to which mutant suits which mission. They all have very unique powers, which can be advantageous in some situations and quite the opposite in others. A general tip is to make sure you have Iceman and Wolverine handy, because a lot of bridges need to be built with Iceman and Wolverine’s Beserk Fury and Healing Factor definitely give you the edge over hordes. Another good character to have around is Cyclops, but that’s depending on which ability you concentrate on, as Cyke is highly dependent on distance. Jean Grey can also be very helpful, as her telekinetic powers can operate levers at a distance which other characters cannot reach normally.
There is a heavy emphasis on teamwork in X-men: Legends as each team member interacts differently with each other. An example of an interaction can be seen in Colossus and Wolverine, let’s say you were controlling Colossus, approach Wolverine and press the “X” button, Colossus then proceeds to pick up Wolverine and throw him a.k.a. The Fastball special. Another example is when you have a flying character like Rogue pick up a team mate and fly them around. Its examples like those which give the game a lot of depth, as you’ll definitely be needing the different abilities and interactions in order to get past certain obstacles.
When you’re playing X-men: Legends initially, you’ll find that the opponents you encounter are not the sort that game developers just happen to throw in, they’re actually quite difficult, especially as you get used to distancing and the controls. As stated before, the more the game progresses and the more your characters level up, the opponents also seem to get a lot stronger, providing quite a challenge without being too frustrating.
As stated before, X-men: Legends is heavily oriented in teamwork and as so, there’s a multiplayer option available. What multiplayer constitutes in this game is a couple of people pressing start and hopping right into the action. This definitely makes for a seamless transition from single-player into multiplayer mode. Although if you have a couple of friends over, the missions involving the X-man Magma can become quite boring, as you all will want the action to come very soon. It goes the other way though, there’s a player control screen, where if someone wants to stop playing, you can de-activate their controls so their character is free to either be controlled by you or the A.I.
It is an absolute joy to take the field with some friends in X-men: Legends as the gameplay does not slow down and the framerate does not drop at all, making for some pretty intense battles. The camera work is also good as it zooms out the further you are apart. But its always better to stick together and pit 2 characters against an opponent in order to get the advantage.
The instense battles that come out of X-men: Legends definitely give rise to bone-crunching soundeffects and tense pre-battle build-ups. The soundeffects are definitely utilised to full effect and throughout a large scale battle, a lot of the sounds are actually clearly heard and mesh well with each other, making the battle seem a lot bigger than what it is.
Vicarious Visions have definitely gone for the minimalist approach when it comes to the music in this game. The sublime soundtrrack gives way to the soundeffects to great effect. The music in this game definitely serves to enhance to mood and atmosphere and definitely does not come off annoying.
The voice acting in X-Men: Legends is quite good. Wolverine definitely sounds like his cartoon counterpart and although a lot of the X-men sound different to what you would remember them in the classic animation series, the actors definitely add their own touch to them. The villains also have their own unique malice added to them through the effective use of talented voice actors.
X-men: Legends is being the RPG title that it is, is quite a lengthy game. There are missions of all sorts found within its framework and it will take you a number of gameplay hours in order to finish it. The mulitplayer aspect gives it even more longevity if you’re the type to want to team up with people and lay the smackdown on hapless opponents.
X-men: Legends is definitely recommended for those comic fans out there, who were waiting for a quality game featuring their heroes. It is definitely hours of fun and will even suit those casual gamers who love a good fight on their hands.