X-Men Legends II - Rise of Apocalypse

Review

posted 11/18/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
As you level up your characters you will earn additional moves and special abilities.  As you would expect these abilities help you enormously on your quest to take down Apocalypse and his large army.  These abilities aren't just useful for taking down bad guys (or maybe I should say "worse" guys), but they also go a long way to helping you differentiate between the various characters.  When you're not using your mutant abilities you are scrapping it up with a two-button combat system (normal and strong).  Although there are only two buttons, there are a number of useful combos that can be performed simply by getting your buttons in the right order.  Even with all these moves the fighting can get somewhat repetitious, but it's not too bad.

The game is broken up into five different acts, each with their own major boss battle at the end.  Each act starts out with cinemas that will knock your socks off.  Even after seeing a number of gorgeous games for the PSP I was blown away by the intro cinema, an animated video that looks every bit as good as what you would find on the home consoles.  Unfortunately the in-game graphics aren't as stunning, but they aren't bad either.  The real charm of each act is that there are a lot of different environments to fight in.  You'll be brawling in just about every creepy location, including sewers, an ancient Egyptian temple, forests, airships, and even a recently demolished New York City.  Just when you've grown tired of your surroundings you'll be rushed off to a brand new area that makes you want to explore and find everything you can.

While the game's five acts may not sound very large, each act is extremely lengthy, making for a game with a good 20 hours of gameplay.  While you may start an act for one reason, it quickly becomes clear that there are a number of things to do (bosses to destroy, heroes to save) in each area.  You'll constantly be running back and forth collecting items and making sure you killed every last enemy, all while looking forward to where you'll go next.  The game itself has a few nice twists and the story, while simple, will keep you going just to see who you'll fight and what revelation you'll learn next.

The graphics in each of the levels is pretty good, with a lot of added details to make it seems like you're not just going through the same room over and over again.  And it's not just the backgrounds that look good, the characters themselves are colorful and well animated.  Granted, they are a bit on the small side, but it's generally easy to keep track of what's going down onscreen, even when there are a mountain of enemies surrounding you.

Like the graphics, the sound is also very good.  The music sounds like the type of thing you would hear in a comic book movie, though maybe not as memorable as the theme from Super-Man or Tim Burton's Batman.  The voice acting is great, which is a good thing because there is a bunch of it.  Not only is there a nice collection of playable characters (who get a chance to talk from time to time), but you also get dozens of non-playable characters who have more than a few things to say.  If you're an X-Men novice like myself you will find all the background information you could want from talking to these NPC's, all with convincing accents and dialogue.  While there is a lot of no-name talent in Rise of Apocalypse, there are a couple of actors you'll probably recognize from the get-go, such as Patrick Stewart and Lou Diamond Phillips.  Unfortunately Magneto is not played by Sir Ian McKellen … probably too busy with his movie career

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