By now, everyone is familiar with the X-men universe, thanks to the various comics, films and cartoon series that have been popping up over the last two decades. Hated and feared by humanity, the team assembled by Professor Xavier still fight for a future where man and mutant can live together in peace.
With their ranks at an all time low, and the rest of the world considering options to finally rid the planet of this species of Homo Superior, its a dangerous time to be a mutant, with choices to be made and lines in the sand to be drawn. That’s where players come in, as they select one of three new mutants to join in and help decide the fate of mutant-kind.
But is it a destiny worth having, or should natural selection have taken its course with this title?
Three potential mutants, three potential powers, is how the game starts. Finding yourself at a peace rally where all hell breaks loose, players will quickly discover that they have powers, with the option to acquire either the brawling Density Control, long range Energy Projection and a bizarre hybrid that utilises both in the form of Shadow Matter.
With said choice made, players will embark on their quest, helping to fight back against the hordes of Purifiers who are attacking mutants left, right and centre. There’s an ulterior foe watching from the shadows, but eagle-eyed players will uncover who that person is long before the dramatic reveal.
From here, players will build on and improve their powers, equipping them with new combos, moves and passive abilities. It sounds like a varied selection to begin with, but seeing as how these abilities are not character specific, it’s a shallow feature that builds on the growing repetition inherent in the gameplay mechanics.
Along the way, players can pick up X-genes, abilities that are designed to complement powers, with the equipping of such powers allowing for your character to don a costume similar to it the one that original owner wears. Its an acceptable substitution for players who were yearning to play as one of their favourite X-men or Brotherhood members, while the feature helps build the character into a powerhouse as the game draws to a close in the final act.
X-genes also help unlock ultimate attacks, abilities which require their own energy bar, for those situations in which you need to take care of a dozen or so similarly dressed purifier henchmen. There’s only one kind of attack per power, but at least its effectiveness can be upgraded.
X-Men Destiny prides itself on choice, touting your gameplay decisions as having a meaningful impact on the world around you. San Francisco is crawling with familiar faces, from Cyclops and his band peacekeepers, to Magneto and his organization of militant mutants, and you’ll get to meet all of them through unskippable dialogue sections.
Choices in the game boil down to missions revolving around fetch quests and clearing a stage, with little to no variety in between them. Fight a few waves of enemies, beat them all to open the next section on the linear levels and walk towards a waypoint marker where you’ll engage in some conversation or a boss fight. Rinse and repeat.
Combat itself though, is well designed and solid. You may have to face wave after wave of enemies who happen to dress exactly the same, but at least you can take them out in style. Enemies drop health, power and experience orbs, which can be used to power up and unlock new attacks and background abilities.
Depending on who you side with, players will reap the benefits and consequences in their decisions by either having slightly more cheerful teammates or will receive a rather stern scolding from the other side. For a title that tries to force the idea of freedom and meaningful choices down your throat whenever it has a chance to, there’s very little of it present.
Cosmetic changes and slightly different attitudes is all that’s really available, with a handful of side-missions being locked depending on your current affiliation. Its a shallow cop-out, and one can’t help but feel that X-Men Destiny is a rush job of a game, with a low budget.
Solid combat and light RPG elements make things interesting, but the lack of any variety or real substance instead results in button-mashing the exact same combo every single time in order to take down wave 616 of generic hench-persons.
Collecting X-genes to experience different powers, suits and abilities is an interesting idea, but the potential for varying your power base and working hard to explore your powers is wasted on the vanilla backdrop.
Design and Presentation: 6/10
It’s not a bad looking title, but its not going to win any awards either. Characters tend to have doll-like expressions during relaxed situations, while the powers you accumulate are expressive and vibrant. San Francisco is a dull and boring playground, with levels being strictly linear battlegrounds.
Still, its interesting to see what a real world take on the X-Men would look like, with characters such as Nightcrawler and Mystique sporting hipster-inspired looks, while Magneto has been bending random pieces of purple metal around his body for a costume. Add in the costumes gained from X-genes, and your character has plenty of fashionable looks to fight back with.
Not terrible, not magnificent, but competent at least.
Strictly single-player only, forget about any sort of online or co-op gameplay. While such games are becoming rarer, at least they offer plenty of extras and added value in replays, but sadly, this is not the case in X-Men Destiny. The campaign can be easily completed with 6-8 hours, and the new game + option features no scaling difficulty, meaning that you’ll slice through enemies like a hot adamantium blade through butter with your over-powered character.
Only the most dedicated of fans will get a kick out of this X-men tale. For all its promises about freedom and decisions that actually matter, when it comes down to it, X-Men Destiny fails to deliver, leaving players with an average brawler that squanders the potential it has on vapid enemies and boring levels.
Last Updated: October 10, 2011