X-Men Legends II - Review  

Mutant Mayhem
by Lucky Melchior

20-40 Hours
+ Outstanding battle system.
+ Excellent replay value.
+ Terrific voice acting.
+ Excellent graphics.
- Mediocre soundtrack.
- Little originality.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   In 2005 Activision released Raven Software's second X-men themed action RPG, X-men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse. This game was released on Playstation 2, X-box, Gamecube, PSP and on P.C. This Review is of the Gamecube version.

   The story takes place shortly after the events of the first X-men legends game. A group of X-men are investigating some disturbances in Egypt when Professor Xavier and Polaris are kidnapped. You rescue Xavier and find out that Apocalypse is behind everything. You then team up with the brotherhood, your arch enemies, to unravel Apocalypse's sinister plans and stop him. The story takes place over five distinct acts and is fairly enjoyable. However, the characters are not overly developed as is often the case with an action RPG. The story pretty much mirrors the Age of Apocalypse storyline in the comicbooks.

   The visual presentation of X-men Legends II is very good. Most characters and environs are reasonably detailed. There are a few enemies that are blocky and fake looking, but those are rare and far in between. The visuals really shine with the extraordinary CGI movies that separate each act. If you didn't know better you would think you were watching a live action X-men movie. The short mission briefings contained in each act, however, do not use the CGI movies, but rather in game graphics. The game's soundtrack on the otherhand is very unassuming. While there are no real bad tracks, there are none that are overly memorable either. For the most part the soundtrack serves as background to the constant action. Conversely, the voice acting is exceptional, featuring headline voice talent such as Patrick Stewart, who is the voice of Professor X of course, and Lou Diamond Phillips who is the voice of Forge.

Magneto Does Some Serious Damage Magneto Does Some Serious Damage

    X-men Legends features an exceptional battle system. You manage a party of four mutants that you can pick from a pool of fifteen playable characters. There are a certain amount of unlockable characters whom vary depending on which platform you are playing the game. There are three unlockable characters in the Gamecube version. You can change which four mutants are in your active party at extraction points peppered throughout each act or by using a blink portal to return to your base. You actively control one mutant leaving the other three to be controlled by friends or the AI. The AI settings are somewhat dependable. As you explore each of the areas you will be constantly assaulted by hordes of bad guys who you must punch, kick and slash through to gain experience and tech bits, see money, just like any other RPG. The fun part comes with the mutant powers. When you level up characters they will get skill points that you can apply to the standard RPG stats such as Hit Points, Energy Points, see MP, strike or speed. However, you also get ability points that you can use to learn new mutant powers or increase the strength of skills you already know. Each character has all sorts of unique abilities which range from standard energy beams, to flying to hurling enemies to and fro with your powers. Another fun aspect of the battle system are the combo attacks. If two characters use their mutant powers on an enemy at the same time they combine to become a stronger attack and those characters will get bonus experience points when the enemy is defeated. Each mutant also has extreme mutant powers which can only be used when you pick-up a certain number of extreme power-ups. These extreme powers usually damage all enemies on the screen and can be combined with other powers to form a super combo. Overall X-men Legends II has an addictive and enjoyable battle system that is the chief reason to play the game.

Attack of the Sentinels Attack of the Sentinels

   For the most part X-men Legends II has a very solid interface and interaction. The strongest aspect of the interaction is it's ability to adapt to the style of the player. If you want to stay engrossed in the action you can have the computer automatically apply your skill points upon level up and auto equip your characters. On the other hand if you like to micro manage your characters you can do so with ease. The one significant drawback is the management of equipment. There is no independent screen in the menu for equipment, but rather you must access equipment through each individual character's screen. This becomes quite tedious. There is also a very limited inventory space. Although you can store equipment back at the base, you will often max out your inventory space and be forced to return to base camp to sell off or store equipment to make room.

   Contrary to the mostly outstanding interaction, the game's weakest aspect is it's originality. First of all the characters are all from a well established universe that spans multiple mediums, such as comics and movies. Beyond that, the actual plot of the game borrows heavily from the "Age of Apocalypse" story arc from Marvel's X-men comics in 1995 and 1996. In contrast to it's originality score, X-men Legends II has outstanding replay value. There are plenty of sidequests and mini-games to play including the danger room and trivia games. Moreover, there are several unlockable characters that can only be unlocked by completing certain tasks. One such character can not be unlocked until you complete the game at least once. There are also three different difficulty settings; easy, normal and hard. The multiplayer feature also adds to the replay value. Even if you have completed the game it is still fun to play with friends.

   X-men legends II is an excellent game that is fun to play. It features a wildly addictive and fun battle system with outstanding CGI movies. You do not have to be an X-men fan to enjoy this game and the release on multiple platforms means most RPGamers have an opportunity to enjoy this game. I highly recomend this game to any fan of action RPGs as you will not be disappointed.

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