X-Men Legends II - Rise of Apocalypse

Review

posted 11/1/2005 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PS2

Our favorite Marvel mutants are back fighting the forces of Evil in X-Men Legends II:  Rise of Apocalypse.  This time around, due to the incredible threat posed by the titular villain, the X-Men join forces with Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants for some serious hack-n-slash action-RPG superhero goodness.  And there’s quite a bit of goodness packed into this latest outing by Activision. 

 While things have been polished up a bit, Raven Software hasn’t really changed things much since the original X-Men legends.  Players still control a team of 4 mutants as they chew their way through jungles, ancient temples, and devastated cityscapes.  In single-player mode, the player directly controls one of the heroes while the other 3 remain under the control of a fairly competent AI.  A quick press of the D-pad allows players to instantly change mutants, making it quite simple to switch back-and-forth between the various characters for that precision application of mutant powers.  And while the controls are quite simple in their layout, combat is actually fairly complex for an action-RPG.  Various kicks and punches can be strung together to make special attacks, such as trip attacks and uppercuts.  Special attacks and powers are hot-keyed to the D-pad, ready to be unleashed when combined with a shoulder-button.  And even with each character fielding up to a dozen powers apiece, it’s still quite simple to swap out the hot-keyed powers on the fly.  Overall, combat runs fast and furious, which is the perfect feel for the Marvel Universe.

Not only does the game play well, it looks good, too.  Using 3D cel-shaded graphics to great effect, the X-Men and their enemies really capture that comic-book feel.  Watching the mutant powers splash and explode about the screen is quite enjoyable.  The camera work is decent, but it does suffer from the usual hang-ups of the occasional odd angle or too-close zoom.  The sound isn’t as good as the graphics, but it’s not lagging too far behind.  My biggest gripe with the technical side of things was the lengthy load times in between, well, just about everything.  Since the game essentially takes place in a series of modern-day “dungeons”, moving from area to area via teleporters or X-traction points can bring everything to a halt for 10-20 seconds.  Even opening up the game menu snarles everything for a few moments longer than necessary. 

Minor quibbles aside, fielding a team of X-Men and Brotherhood agents is a complete blast.  Players initially have 16 playable characters to choose from, with many of the old favorites making their appearance.  Players can play through the entire game using only one single team, or they may choose to swap out characters and mix-and-match on a mission-by-mission basis.  Characters can even be swapped out in the field via the X-traction points.  Certain teams just work together better than others, so assembling the correct combination of characters can give an added team bonus, such as increased damage or resistances. 

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