X-Men Legends PlayStation 2
Developed by Raven Software
Release Date: Out Now
Price : £39.99
For years the X-Men have been a firm favourite with comic book enthusiasts and now thanks to movies and a great animated series their popularity is greater than ever. As with most successful franchises there have been games based upon the X-Men, some good, some not so good. The latest of these is X-Men Legends from Raven Software, a developer who has tastefully handled other games based on key franchises.
Previous X-Men games have ranged from action titles to 2D fighting games but X-Men Legends offers something a little different although fighting still plays a big part in the game. The game begins with news headlines showing the Mutant oppression that's going on around the world. The news headlines are cut short to live footage of Alison Crestmere being ganged up on by the local populace after it was discovered she was a mutant. It's all begins to turn nasty when Mystique and Blob break up the crowd and carry off Alison. Wolverine sees this and attempts to rescue her. You begin the game with Wolverine as he attempts this rescue.
What makes X-Men Legends different from previous X-Men titles is the RPG elements that have been included in the game that allows you to upgrade your team of X-Men. The game gives you control of 15 X-Men in total although you can only have 4 in your team at any one time. Throughout the game your X-Men will gain experience, level-up and gain performance enhancing items. Each character has their own unique skills and Xtreme Powers which means that you'll be choosing your 4 team members on the basis of the skills you want available. You can change the configuration of your team by walking onto a Xtraction Point which are X-Men logos (a X in a circle) that you'll find on the ground. Game saves can also be made on a Xtraction Point too. Occasionally you'll get the chance to return to Xavier's Mansion in order to rest, purchase items and even train to increase your experience.
As we said earlier combat does play an important role in X-Men Legends. Combat is very easy to perform and there are several combo moves that can be made for each character. Each character has a variety of special attacks that are accessed by pressing the R2 button as well as either the triangle, X, square or circle button. These attacks use energy though so you won't be able constantly use them. You'll collect both energy packs and health packs throughout the game and you can easily use these mid-battle by pressing L1 for health and R1 for an energy pack. Although you can have four characters with you at one time you can't control anymore than one (although you can change which character you control by using the directional buttons). You can request your AI comrades to move closer to you and also direct their special attacks. Essentially the combat is a button bashing hack 'n' slash affair but the well thought out control system and the variety of X-Men that you have at your disposal help to prevent it from becoming monotonous.
Graphically the game looks OK but it's nothing special to be perfectly honest. The game uses Vicarious Visions' Alchemy engine and the game is played from an almost top-down perspective. Quite a lot of the objects you come across in the game can be broken or deformed to some extent which is good to see and there are various puzzles that can be solved by breaking objects that lie in your path. The frame rate was fairly constant throughout although there were some slight pauses when the disk was accessed. The character models have been nicely created and their cel-shaded (various objects are cel-shaded too) appearance contrasts well with the 3D polygon backgrounds. The cutscenes have also been well done and certainly capture the X-Men style very well indeed, although the ones where you get a close up of the characters from the game engine look a little rough.
Subtitles can be enabled in X-Men Legends. The cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the white subtitle text being shown in the lower border for maximum clarity. Tutorial messages are also shown in text. These tutorial tips stay onscreen until you press the X button to remove them which means you can read them in your own time. In game conversations are shown on a rather large blue overlay which again makes for really easy reading. You are also notified when your objectives have been updated. Any experience you acquire is also displayed in text and you'll also be notified when your X-Men have leveled up. The various comments that are made by the X-Men and their enemies during the missions are not displayed in text but this doesn't really spoil anything (except maybe the ambience of the game). All things considered Raven Software have done a very good job in making the game enjoyable for deaf gamers.
Raven Software have created the best X-Men game to date in X-Men Legends. In many ways you could argue that what we have here is a X-Men flavoured Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, a hack 'n' slash that has a decent amount of RPG elements to keep things interesting. If you have a Multitap you'll also be able to enjoy co-operative action for up to 4 players. If you don't have a Multitap then it will be just a 2 player affair although this can still be fun. Other players can jump into the action at any time which is also a major plus. I have to be honest here and say that my expectations for X-Men Legends were not high but the game has been a pleasant surprise and I'd recommend it to both fans of the X-Men and fans of hack 'n' slash action/RPG's.
Game Rating: 8.2/10
At last we finally have an impressive X-Men title that actually feels right. Raven have done a great job and the game will appeal to not only X-Men fans but also action/RPG enthusiasts too.
Little to fault the game for. Raven have really made the game accessible to deaf gamers.