Activision has been on the roll when it comes to producing Marvel games, and their latest Marvel-based craze reels you in with spectacular presentation. The cell-shaded cutscenes are the first to immerse your eyes, while the backdrops makes you feel in tune with the movie.
But don’t be fooled by its beauty alone. X-Men: The Official Game doesn’t have that strategic suspense it had with the X-Men Legends series. What you have here is a straight brawler. The game starts you off on the Liberty Island, where you face off Wolverine’s rival Sabertooth.
But just before the confrontation, you’re introduced to comic-like, cell-shaded cutscenes, illustrating how the X-Men team is grieving over Jean’s death. You have three X-Men to choose from: Wolverine, Iceman, and Nightcrawler. You’ll go through a brief tutorial, explaining the characters’ abilities and unique powers. Afterwards, you’ll be able to take on your first mission.
When you complete a mission, it’s off to Gene Alteration to upgrade your character’s mutant strength such as the ability to heal faster, increase damage on attacks, and many more! In the gameplay department, this latest X-Men game plays out fairly decent.
The controls are well-designed for greater accessibility, but the response time on certain moves is a bit sluggish; still, they become manageable over time. The game features some cool combos but they are somewhat limited in numbers.
The face buttons on your control are used for various types of attacks, while the trigger buttons are used for blocking, charging, healing, and other mutant functions. Boss fight is easy in this game but dealing with enemies’ AI does come cheap.
You are constantly hit with a hail of bullets, or a barrage of electric spears that make it difficult to get close to swipe them with your metallic claws or attack them with teleport-related combos.
The best part of combat, however, comes from executing those highly-animated mutant abilities like Wolverine’s “Berserker” and Iceaman’s “Ice Beam”. Activision did an incredible job sticking close to each X-Men’s inherent powers.
Textures on characters remain particularly close to its movie counterparts. The exhibition on super moves like Iceman surfing on ice is a visual treat. The environments are nicely detailed and the animation sequence is relatively smooth.
The cutscenes are impressive with a chain of flashy illustrative page-turners; however, the problem with the game is not so much with the vivid presentation, it’s the clipping issues and the awkward camera display.
Some of these issues include enemies getting stuck in the walls, and a few will teleport from one side of the building to the next for no reason.
In the audio front, the game delivers a fairly solid sound experience. Most of the punches and kicks pack some wallop, but the sound effects could’ve used some more depth. The best part of the audio component is that the game uses real actors like Jackman, Cumming, and Ashmore, which perform nice jobs with the voice-over works.
Patrick Stewart is back to lead the role of Professor Xavier but the rest of the characters have been dubbed over with sound-alikes. On the music aspect, there are hardly any upbeat soundtracks to get you into the mood of whacking your enemies. As for the rest of the audio piece like background ambience, they do their job well. We have played four versions of the game: Xbox, PS2, PC, and Xbox 360.
Xbox 360 version is the best-looking of the four bunches, though the graphics and the gameplay mechanics are very identical to the regular Xbox. PS2 has better gameplay and controls, while the PC version comes with less frame rate issues.
Overall, X-Men: The Official Game delivers a good movie representation. If only the graphical clippings were smoothed out, more playable X-Men, a bit of Mortal Kombat-like gores into the action, and a number of strategic elements added to the gameplay, this could have been another Activision’s blockbuster hit.
Fortunately, these tiny visual imperfections don’t happen too often. For what it’s worth, it’s a good button-smasher, beat-them-up that mostly casual gamers would enjoy.