• Just saying the word X-Men puts a smile on my face. I have been a fan of the X-Men for longer than I can actually remember, collecting the comics, watching the cartoons and more recently the screen production X-Men movies. X-Men for me = COOL, but cool has not always been a phrase I have used with the X-Men computer games. The majority of the titles we have been given have stunk to high heaven, X-Men Legends and Legends II being the only games I had ever enjoyed. It’s strange… I am an avid X-Men fan but have usually trained myself to steer clear of the games. Getting to play the RPG that was ‘Legends’ was amazing, and for the first time gave you a feeling of joy at getting to kick computer ass with your favourite characters in tow, and so this leads me to say… Will the latest X-Men game offering slice and dice, or will it be more like you trying to cut through wood with a fork – annoying and pointless?

    X-Men: The Official Game; is the title for this latest offering and well I have to say a big name with a lot to live up to. If you label something with the term ‘official’ then you are making a big statement that this is the only X-Men game you should be playing.

    We are all aware of Activision’s proven track record, namely with X-Men Legends and Legends II and Z-Axis having been acquired by Activation makes up the developer arm on this game. The game is based around three of the X-Men characters, Wolverine, Iceman and Nightcrawler. You should also note as I have just made reference to Nightcrawler… NO, this game is not a tie in to the latest X-Men movie, it is supposedly (term used very loosely) set between the newer and previous movies, with a lot of the more famous X-Men baddies thrown in for fun. Other X-Men characters lend their support to the trio and the voice over work for each character is in the actor’s voices from the movies, Hugh Jackman, slipping into his Wolverine mode nicely and Halle Berry backing up the sassy Storm to give a couple of examples.

    X-Men: The Official Game

    The game is played in the third person view and can be classed as a beat-em-up. As you play through the game you will move between the three characters as the game sets out to tell you a tale. Each of the three characters are fun to play with, but it has to be stated that Nightcrawler is the best of the bunch with his teleportation abilities and Wolverine actually becomes the hardest character to slip into, as he receives the most amount of stick and literally has to claw his way through hordes of enemies to stay alive. Iceman spends his time skating around on his ice slide and dispatches enemies with his hailstorm attack and ice-beam. Iceman is cool to play with but with the majority of his interaction in the game being on a timed basis, quickly becomes annoying.

    Each of you characters has a limited amount of combo attacks they can perform and whilst at first this is fresh and fun, the limitation does start to grate after a while. What does keep the juices flowing is the ability to ‘level up’ your characters with mutations, and dependant on the difficulty you have chosen to play through the game with is dependant on how many mutation rewards you receive at the end of each level. With the difficulty level setting your mutation upgrades the longevity of the games exists in inviting you to come back and grab the missing prizes playing through on a harder difficulty. That said the game is not that hard to master, I have played through the game on the highest setting, and it may just be down to experience in playing games but I have hardly struggled through the game if at all albeit there are frustration moments to which I will detail later.

    Throughout each of your characters missions you are also invited to collect certain objects, namely sentinel tech and weapon x files. The invitation can be ignored but these objects will make up a large chunk of the achievements available in this game so choosing to ignore them will cost you in gamerscore. None of them pose a major problem in finding them, with some of them being right in front of you as you progress within a level but others are nicely hidden away in boss battles and sharp eyes are needed to spot them. The inclusion of these types of objects are appearing in more and more 360 games now, but I have to say, do serve up something else to do within a game and removes the boredom of just moving between points A and B.

    So you have three X-Men characters to control, an unfolding storyline/plot to get sucked into and with the characters the differences with sliding/slashing and teleporting to mess around with. Sounds like a massive amount of fun huh? Well it is… and then again it isn’t. There are a few problems with the game that have made this X-Men experience not that cool, fun to play, but not COOL to play.

    For starters the game does not look like an Xbox 360 game, it looks first generation rather than next generation. Your environments are badly done and some of the character modelling is awful. Your three main characters however are quite nicely done, although Wolverines straining expression is amusing to look at, and if I was to use the term toilet humour linked with his expression then you should catch my meaning. Overall the game does not have the polish I would expect, there is partial brilliance but there is no continuity and that lacks eye appeal causing me to frown rather than smile. It could have looked a lot neater and only makes me wonder if the 360 version; is an upgraded port from another version?

    Next off the camera controls for your characters are an absolute nightmare to get to grips with, views switch without warning sometimes giving you no clue as to where the hell you are and certain characters have no ability for you as the player to pan the camera around. Wolverine is my favourite X-Men character of all time, yet using him in the game drove me nuts with the tunnel vision effect that occurs on more than one occasion.

    Another problem exists with the game is that the majority of the levels have no checkpoint system what so ever. Now I mentioned that the game is not that hard…and that statement is the truth, it’s not, but there are occasions with the game where you will go from full health to no health in “how on earth – what the?” no time at all and results in you dying. Dying no matter how far you got in a level for the majority of this game only means one thing…you have to do the entire level again. It’s a painful experience on some levels and leaves you screaming for more checkpoints/save point options…it’s a minor note but will still leave you growling when you screw up.

    A final problem I see with the game is the overall longevity with it. Yes I have stated that there is some existence of longevity if you have the time to replay the game collecting all mutations/sentinel tech and weapon x files. But once you have done that I really doubt you would ever play this game again. Now I understand this opinion can be applied to a lot of games lately, but if I am going to spend nearly £50.00 on a game then I would expect more than a couple of days play for my pennies spent.

    Overall, X-Men: The Official Game is a fair game to play, it does have its moments and the boss battles are very cool. Nightcrawler’s levels were very swish to play and Nightcrawler was easily the best character in the game, teleporting behind an enemy before beating seven shades of what-sit out of him was always fun, even Iceman sliding around launching hailstorm attacks and seeing Wolverine in ‘fury’ mode produced many a good moment in the game. But the game does have its problems and problems that marred the X-Men fun factor it should have produced, and at the end of the day gaming is meant to be fun and not be full of frustrating “could have been done better” moments. So this ‘official’ X-Men game is certainly not COOL, but at the same time it is certainly not the worst X-Men game I have played either…My final statement? Well that’s easy – rent don’t buy and one to enjoy for the weekend.

    Score: 5/10

    About The Author