Activision takes another stab at making the X-Men interactive with mixed results in this action-adventure with light RPG elements.
- Plenty of X-Men to meet and interact with
- Wide variety of mutant powers to use
- Last-gen presentation
- Boring, repetitive combat
- Unskippable dialogue and cinematics
- Choices are mostly meaningless
X-Men: Destiny Review:
Recent games like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Batman: Arkham Asylum have given hope that great super-hero games are actually possible. Both of those titles have sequels about to drop, but in the meantime, Activision had high hopes for their retooling of the X-Men franchise with X-Men Destiny. Sadly, the results are a real blast from the past—in all the wrong ways.
I Am Your Density…
X-Men Destiny starts out with a bang. Professor X has been murdered, human-mutant relations are more tenuous than usual, and a militant anti-mutant group is wrecking violent havoc in the name of human rights. The game opens with Cyclops and the remaining X-Men appearing at a pro-peace rally, when a very Magneto-like attack suddenly ends the procession. Here, players make their choice of character and the action begins.
Destiny takes a somewhat different approach than most comic book titles. Instead of letting players take the role of a well-known hero, it starts them off with a choice of three new youngsters. Essentially blank slates, you’ll select the character’s initial mutant ability and as the game progresses, earn new abilities based off of other famous characters.
Psychic, shadow, or tank-like kinetic energy are the starting points, but in actual practice, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. While your new mutant earns new abilities and has light stats progression, the game is far from an RPG. Destiny also touts moral choices that affect the path of your character, which is a great idea in concept.
Choice (and Variety) is an Illusion
As you progress, various characters from the X-Men world will be available for conversation. Dialogue is essentially one-sided and pointless. Most dialogue choices are simply exposition, but frequently lead to another task to perform. Performing a task for the X-Men adds points to that side of the character’s moral meter, while taking on missions for the Magneto-lead Brotherhood has the opposite effect. Sadly, over the course of the incredibly short game, these choices amount to almost nothing.
Dialogue is overlong, clunky, and unskippable—just like the cinematic sequences. The presentation isn’t much better. While the voice work is generally decent, the graphics are on par with a middling PS2 or Xbox title. Character animation is jerky, textures are blocky, and the game spends most of its time throwing the same few uninspired enemies at you.
All of X-Men Destiny feels like retread. The combat is initially mindlessly fun for the first half-hour or so, but it never varies and quickly becomes a chore. The game is button-bashing through and through, with two main attacks, a minimum of combos, and various special moves. While it’s cool to be able to unleash the moves of Ice-Man, Colossus, and other popular characters, it makes little difference in actual execution.
There are plenty of occasions where you’ll even fight alongside these heroes, but the game’s AI is just awful. Enemies are brainless thugs that just rush forward, and the ally AI seems to attack at random. There’s just as much chance that your heroic allies will do next to nothing on the battlefield instead of actually help out. Since the game is one arena-like battle after the next, this is a significant flaw.
Even for the most diehard X-Men fan, Destiny is a hard sell. It’s a pure mindless basher with little variety or refinement. While the core concept is solid and it’s easy to appreciate the appearances of so many characters from the comic, the game feels rushed and unfinished. It’s short and full of repetition, and amazingly uninspired.