Silicon Knights' founder, Denis Dyack has been extremely cagey about details on his forthcoming X-Men game, X-Men: Destiny and who could blame him? His previous title, Too Human, was notorious for it woefully lackluster E3 showing in 2006. This prompted him to believe that games shouldn't be judged as a work in progress and only previewed when a final build is complete. We all like to read about upcoming games, so this may sound preposterous, but I can't help but sympathize with Mr. Dyack.
Pouring years of your life into something only to be told it sucks has got to make one doubt themselves. Maybe he considered the critical and commercial failure Too Human a self fulfilling prophecy and wanted to succeed or fail on his own merits without the agonizing constant self doubt. After such a trying experience I'd love to see Dyack and co. bounce back with a winner (Silicon Knights did create Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness, after all). His upcoming action-RPG, X-Men: Destiny, looks to have some good ideas up its sleeve, but, at this point, I'm not sold on whether that will be enough.
The story is being penned by X-Men: Legacy scribe, Mike Carey, and takes place in the current timeline of that series where professor Xavier is dead. The world is in chaos as a war is brewing between the anti-mutant coalition, the Purifiers, and the mutant supremacy group, the Brotherhood of Mutants.
Players choose between one of three new characters then select their core power before setting off on adventure. The demo I saw starred 15-year-old Aimi Yoshida, who'd recently arrived in San Francisco from Japan. Ravaged by earthquakes, fires, and floods, the bay area had certainly seen better days. Her core power was energy-projection, allowing her to shoot out glowing yellow balls of energy rotating around her.
Throughout the game, players will find "x-genes," which give them powers from established X-Men characters. These won't replace your core power, but will augment them. Players can equip three at a time (defensive, offensive, and utility), so one example the rep cited was to mix Surge's electricity attacks with Wolverine's rapid healing and Quicksilver's speed. Equipping all x-genes from the same character while wearing their suit unlocks "x-mode" granting bonus attributes. In the case of Quicksilver, it makes your attacks faster, more powerful, and slows down enemies.
You'll be able to alter not only your powers but the story as well. At certain points you'll encounter "destiny moments," the game's parlance for moral choices. The example shown in the demo had Aima having to choose between giving a powerful x-gene to Gambit who's trying to build a mutant army, or listen to Colossus and destroy it. Your decisions will influence both the story as well as what enemies you'll encounter later on, and what x-genes you'll be able to access.
Character customization and moral choices are nothing new, but the degree to which you can alter these shows promise, and that it utilizes the X-Men universe is the icing on the cake. That being said, there were a lot of areas that looked rough. Too many sequences unimaginatively tasked the player with fending off a certain amount of enemies before they could progress, and it raised a red flag when I felt repetition creeping in by the end of a scant 13 minute demo. Elsewhere, the graphics were subpar and the voice-acting could use some work.
From what I saw, I'm nervous about this being the comeback everyone wanted from Silicon Knights. Still, the underlying foundation of X-Men: Destiny shows a lot of potential. Hopefully, its somewhat repetitive structure and technical issues will be ironed out in time for its release this September.