GC

North America

X-Men: The Official Game

by Daniel Bloodworth - June 15, 2006, 6:23 pm PDT
Total comments: 7

5

Chances are that the more you like the X-Men, the less you'll like this game.

X-Men: The Official Game is meant to be a bridge leading from the second film to the third. Instead, the plot completely neuters the second film and has very little to do with the third film, and it's matched with thin gameplay and weak cut-scenes. If it were possible to care about the story in this game, you might consider much of what's said below to be "spoiler material".

The cinema scenes are the player's first clue that this is going to be a mostly terrible experience. The sequences are nothing more than still storyboard art with voice-overs and sometimes the artwork blurs or slides around in a laughable attempt to make it look animated. It's awkward to listen to Patrick Stewart give his lines with a motionless image of his face staring at you, and it really gives the impression that some producer should be over your shoulder saying, "this is the direction we want to go for in the final product". Oh, but wait, this is the final product.

Gameplay is split into three distinct types, focusing on the playable characters: Iceman, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler. Iceman is always riding on his Ice Slide, and his stages are similar to a Star Fox game, with both free-roaming and corridor levels - although the corridor levels tend to be more race-oriented. Wolverine's levels are the very definition of repetitive hack-n-slash and take up the bulk of the game (or at least it feels like it). Meanwhile, Nightcrawler's levels are more objective-based, making you look for series of switches and giving you the opportunity to use Nightcrawler's teleporting talents in battle. The characters practically have separate games to work through, but the plot and mostly linear level progression keep you switching from one to the next to keep things from becoming unbearably stale. Usually though, the gameplay isn't what makes you want to kick and scream, it's the ridiculous situations these characters are constantly put in.

Let's start with Iceman's flying levels. You can accelerate, slow down, and do quick turns just as you would in many other flight games. Iceman attacks his targets with an ice beam that shoots out like a frosty laser, and he has a move called Hailstorm, which basically looks like he's throwing a snowball. As mentioned before, some of Iceman's levels consist of simply racing to a goal before time runs out, taking out enemies and dodging traps along the way, while other stages have you circling an area, continually taking out targets. Iceman is the only character whose levels actually get more interesting as the game goes along, with the first couple easily being the worst.

In one early stage, Pyro is engaged in this preposterous attack on a nuclear power plant because it's made out of Adamantium and Magneto wants metal to build weapons. Iceman comes in to stop Pyro as you'd expect, but you never directly attack him. Your goal is simply to put out his fires and stop his firebirds. Once you put out a set of fires, of course Pyro just lights more fires, but after doing this several times, "Mission Complete" suddenly appears. Huh?

All right, Wolverine's next. These stages are like playing X-Men Legends, but without cool power-ups, special moves, or enemy variety. In other words, you're simply hitting enemies – the same enemies – over and over again. There are a handful of combos which kind of masquerade as variety until you learn that each of the five or so enemy designs requires you to use a specific attack to get in a hit. Guy with the cattle prod needs to be hit with a jump attack. Guy blocking can be hit with a vertical slash, etc., etc. It's really nothing more than a test of your mental stamina. Are you capable of doing the same thing over and over again until all the enemies are gone or will you just stop caring and let them overwhelm you? I'm serious. Some of these levels consist of ONE ROOM that just constantly respawns enemies with no end in sight, until you finally see "Mission Complete".

For Wolverine's ridiculous plot situation, you get to fight Lady Deathstrike, not once, but twice. That's right, the same Lady Deathstrike who had her body pumped full of liquid Adamantium until it oozed out her eyes in the second movie has "miraculously survived". The first time you meet her, she somehow kidnaps Storm and shoves her in a box. Since Storm is claustrophobic, she wigs out, creates this massive vortex, and you fight Lady Deathstrike in the eye of the storm. The best part though, is that when you meet Deathstrike again later in the game, she has the exact same easy-to-fool attack patterns (make her lunge, then counterattack). There's just no hurricane the second time.

And since Wolverine's stages are so bad, here's a bonus. Wolverine's claws can slash through: park benches, wooden bedroom dressers, pipes, steel cages, rocks, concrete walls, and force fields. What can't they slash through? A fence that Sabretooth hops over in the beginning of the game. You actually have to walk around the Statue of Liberty to get to him, and he's just standing there waiting for you anyway.

Overall, Nightcrawler is the best of them, although towards the end, Iceman's stages tend to be stronger. Nightcrawler's teleporting ability is satisfying in battle since you can specifically teleport in front of or behind enemies. The boss battle against Multiple Man is probably the highlight of the game, as he'll create clones to surround you, giving you just a split second to teleport behind him and continue your assault. However, in other situations, teleporting is more hit-or-miss. There is always this blue cursor that shows where Nightcrawler can teleport to, and this feature really looks like it belongs on the Wii and could benefit from that controller's pointer functions. You never have direct control of the cursor, but instead you have to move Nightcrawler back and forth or shift the camera until that blue dot is sitting where you want to go.

While there are several goofy plot situations (run back to protect Colossus?), the biggest oversight with Nightcrawler again involves his abilities. Rather than dematerializing and reconfiguring when he teleports, Nightcrawler essentially turns into an invisible bubble that floats from one point to the next, and at times he can actually be damaged en route! His Shadow Aura, which you'd guess would introduce some form of stealth gameplay, really isn't effective at all. Enemies can still see you and attack even though you're perfectly still and out of the way. So what purpose does Nightcrawler's Shadow Aura serve? Well it heals you, of course. That's right, Wolverine isn't the only character with a healing ability in this game; Iceman and Nightcrawler can heal too.

Finally, anyone interested in seeing what happens between the two movies would be better off thinking that nothing happened. The plot basically goes out of its way to negate the finale of X2 entirely. That's right, Jean Grey died for nothing – well, maybe to save the X-Men, but Stryker, his son, and Lady Deathstrike have all survived. Not to mention that the Weapon X facility at Alkali Lake shows not even the slightest sign of flood damage. Even more fun is that the game repeats the scene from X2 in which missiles home in on the Blackbird and the only way to shake them is for Storm to use her powers (but this time it's lightning instead of tornadoes).

Overall, X-Men: The Official Game is just barely worth a rental. There are some fun moments with Nightcrawler and Iceman, for sure, but Wolverine is a complete headache. On top of that, the thinly-covered inconsistencies with the plot and characters will drive just about any X-Men fan to rage.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 7 7 6 5 5
Graphics
6

There's really nothing spectacular happening here, but the models are moderately detailed and closely resemble the character designs of the films. Cinematic sequences consist of simple camera pans over still artwork and character cut-outs sliding around. Even using the in-game models would have looked much better.

Sound
7

Aurally, the game benefits from having access to some of the key actors and music from the films. However, music during gameplay has a tendency to disappear and then start again later at odd intervals.

Control
7

With three unique control schemes, there can be moments when you'll begin a stage and realize that you've forgotten which button does what. Each character's control configuration has its own set of strong points and weak points, but for the most part, it works out fine.

Gameplay
6

While the three characters are switched around frequently to give an impression of variety, each level for a particular character plays out pretty much the same as the last. Iceman's and Nightcrawler's objectives manage to keep interest levels up, but Wolverine's stages are exercises in repetition, frustration, and boredom. Mutant abilities can be powered-up for incremental increases in basic attributes, but there are never any new abilities to gain.

Lastability
5

X-Men is short to moderate in length and allows you to jump back to previous levels to try them on different difficulty settings at any time. The collectible items are placed counter-intuitively (Storm is calling for help? Run the opposite direction to look for purple chips!), and there really isn't a clear reward for collecting all of them in a level. Unlockables are limited to character costumes (after you beat the game) and a single Danger Room course per character.

Final
5

Thin gameplay is certainly a factor here, but while many fans may put up with that for a good plot to supplement the films, X-Men: The Official Game offers story arcs that will constantly repeat or contradict parts of the movies, and then it gives lame rationales to cover up the nonsense.

Summary

Pros
  • Iceman taking down giant Sentinels
  • Nightcrawler vs. Multiple Man
Cons
  • All the X2 villains are alive!
  • Do all mutants have healing abilities now?
  • Wolverine levels are endlessly repetitive
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

At least they didn't turn Nightcrawler's teleportation into the ability to stop time.

ArbokJune 16, 2006

I'm almost afraid to ask, but is there any back story on the Sentinels, or are they just kind of tossed in there?

WanderingJune 16, 2006

Quote

Gameplay: 6

Quote

Final: 5.0
Thin gameplay is certainly a factor here, but while many fans may put up with that for a good plot to supplement the films, X-Men: The Official Game offers story arcs that will constantly repeat or contradict parts of the movies, and then it gives lame rationales to cover up the nonsense.

So... the game lost a point because the plot was so bad?

Not that that would be a bad thing, what with the plot being touted as one of the main reasons to play.

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusJune 16, 2006

Quote

I'm almost afraid to ask, but is there any back story on the Sentinels, or are they just kind of tossed in there?

The Sentinels basically ARE the plot. Stryker was apparently working on that project too. The Master Mold was hidden under Alkali Lake and at some point during the game it activates and Sentinels start attacking all over the place.

Quote

So... the game lost a point because the plot was so bad?

Well, the presentation doesn't help either. You really have to see the cut-scenes in this game.

KDR_11kJune 16, 2006

That's right, the same Lady Deathstrike who had her body pumped full of liquid Adamantium until it oozed out her eyes in the second movie has "miraculously survived".

Ah, so that's what happened. In the TV edit they cut her entire death scene and ended the battle when Wolvie drops her into that water basin, which makes zero sense. Didn't even bother to resync the music.

miedoJune 17, 2006

Quote

Originally posted by: Jonnyboy117
At least they didn't turn Nightcrawler's teleportation into the ability to stop time.


I had to review the DS and GBA versions, and yeah they did in the DS version. Except he doesn't really teleport, he just stops everything else and walks over to his opponents. So much for warping through objects.

Yeah, I reviewed the DS game too. Hence my comment.

Share + Bookmark





Genre Action
Developer Hypnos
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: X-Men: The Official Game
Release May 16, 2006
PublisherActivision
RatingTeen
Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement