Friday, August 4, 2017

Review #445: X-Men Legends

 The game that made me hate Iceman.
 So, over 10 years ago someone came up with a brilliant idea: Mix X-men with Diablo. Why someone hadn't come up with said idea is beyond, but it worked, it received three sequels and even DC jumped on the same ship with Justice League Heroes. But as much as I love the franchise, I never had the opportunity to play the first game, the one that started the franchise... and I think I was lucky.

 The story pits Xavier's mutants, the X-Men, against Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. The X-men fighting for peace between Humans and Mutants, the Brotherhood of Mutants fighting for dominance over the Homo-sapiens. But it's not all that simple, Kinkaid's brewing a new plan involving the mutant-slayers, the Sentinels. It's an alright story that's faithful to the source material. In between missions you'll be able to explore the X-Mansion, and interestingly, all this is done through the eyes of Magma. While she's not a mandatory character on missions, and the game doesn't revolve around her, it was a brilliant idea to frame the story through the eyes of a not very popular character, so she's as new to the X-Men as most are new to her character.
 X-Men Legends is a Diablo clone, which makes it a dungeon-crawler RPG. You take a team of 4 mutants from a total of 15(Or so the game claims. You can only play as Professor X twice, and it's more of a must rather than a choice). Each character has three special moves(Usually a single target move, a area-of-effect move and a temporary boost) as well as an 'Extreme Attack' that borrows energy from a shared pool of energy rather than Mana. The usual staples of the genre are in too, you will carry Health and Mana potions, enemies drop equipment and cash too. The loot is a bit limited though, there're no modifiers and the variety is fairly small. It can be played simultaneously with another player, which is kinda cool, and the AI takes control of the other 3 or 2 mutants, albeit you can switch characters at the tap of a button. Said AI can be customized a bit, how aggressive you want it to use, when and if you want it to use health potions and which special move you want them to use if you press L2 to have the AI attack your target.

 Every time a character levels up, he earns 1 stat point and 1 ability point(twice for levels ending in 5), stat points can be spent in: Strike(Melee), Agility(Defense), Body(Health) or Focus(Mana)... but you'll soon find out that Melee will never do much damage, and Agility is negligible if you spend your points on body, so even physical fighters are better off spending points in Body and Focus to be able to tank hits and spam their special moves. As for abilities, they can level up their three basic special moves as well as a few passive abilities. The Extreme Move must be earned with these Ability points as well, but since the energy pool is shared... I just had one character learn his and had the rest of the characters spend their ability points on other things.
 While it's a Diablo clone, the combat feels more like a beat'em up. Characters have various attack strings made up of weak and strong hits. You can grab enemies and throw them, or even pick up objects and throw them, and not every character has enough strength to pick up every object! There're also a few puzzles.... that require specific characters. This, THIS absolutely ruined the game for me. When you least expect it, which is more often than not, the game will require you to bring Iceman to build bridges. Or put out fires. See? I was running Cyclops, Wolverine, Magma and Psylocke/Rogue, so I was completely boned. The second Morlock stage is particularly bad, since the save-point, the place where you can swap team members, was three maps away. THREE maps away. Do you know how much time I wasted because I didn't have goddamn Iceman on my team? And the best part about it? After finishing the game I found out that Magma can build bridges.... with her second skill. Would've been nice to know, since you always have to use primary skills to do these 'puzzles'(Which are more like stupid obstacles). And Jean Grey can build bridges too, but I TRIED using her on the first stage and it wouldn't work... though it doesn't surprise me, since even with Iceman, sometimes, if I didn't hit the target just right, the bridge wouldn't be built. Fun.

 There's another map in which you have to use both Jean Grey and Cyclops to finish the 'puzzle', so if you don't fancy either, have fun going back to a save point and losing two character slots. And Cyclops is used to weld doors. Do you even X-men? Cyclops shoots CONCUSSIVE energy, not Heat. This would've been acceptable with broader limitations, like having characters that can lift heavy objects to clear obstacles, or having ANY psychic(Psylocke, Emma) be able to build bridges. But nope, you have very limited choices when it comes to dealing with these stupid excuses for puzzles. Where's the fun in making a team if I can't play as the characters I like?
 The game should last you between 12-20 hours depending on how thorough you are. There's no backtracking and no game plus(Although you can unlock costumes for future playthroughs), which kinda sucks. Take Psylocke, she's unlocked 2/3 into the game, so unless you like replaying Danger Room missions, she'll only see about 5 dungeons worth of gameplay. And since I'm talking about gripes, the AI loves to get in your way. Say, you open a door and there're enemies behind it, they will dash right in-front of you, not letting you go through since now they're stuck getting damaged by enemies. And pray you don't get yourself surrounded by objects, since the AI won't move out of its place to let you through. Don't even let me get started on CPUs you must escort, they may get stuck on doors, or you'll have to go around the place you have to take them over and over again until they realize they have to get INTO the van. Fun.

 X-Men Legends certainly set up the basics for great future games... but as it stands, this game is very, very flawed. I'm sure some design choices sounded good on paper, but they just get in the way of the player's entertainment. I know it's tempting to play as characters that never made it beyond this game, like Jubilee, Emma Frost or Magma... but if you haven't played it before, it's not worth it... unless you like a particular team set-up that doesn't require you going back to a savepoint to sort a stupid obstacle. And that's the sad part, I'm sure that if I had liked Iceman, and thus had had him on my team 24/7, I wouldn't have hated the game so much sometimes. And that's the thing, depending on how you play will change how much enjoyment you'll get out of it.
 6.0 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment