Most movie tie in games aren't really done well. There have been a few that have surpassed expectations but that’s a rare case. With the success of the Brett Ratner helmed X-Men: The Last Stand, a game comes along that bridges the gap between the second and third movie. It’s just too bad that the game doesn’t live up to the previous or current movie. X-Men The Official Game
tells the story of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Iceman as they battle new and old threats. You’ll be taking these characters through old and new environments as you work your way through the game from three different perspectives. You’ll also meet some characters from previous movies and do battle with them again. The one threat that many fans have been clamoring for in the movies, the Sentinels, are heavily featured in the game though which should make some fans happy.
The story will let loose Stryker’s other plans such as the Sentinels. While the film only had a Danger Room sequence of the robots, the game features a full story about the Sentinels and offers you the chance to take them down. A few characters from the previous movies return as well including some that you thought perished on the big screen. There are a few new characters as well to add to the mix. In the end you’ll learn the reason for Nightcrawler’s absence and also experience a short clip that leads right up to the movie.
The three characters encompass three different styles of gameplay. Wolverine offers brutal combat that’s straight button mashing. Iceman lets you glide around on his sheet of ice ala Spiderman and his Amazing Friends letting you partake in a rail shooter type game. Nightcrawler’s missions let you do some brawling like Wolverine but Nightcrawler’s teleporting abilities allows you to use stealth and agility to take down enemies. You can also partake in a very fast combat chaining mode that plays to Nightcrawler’s mutant powers.
As you progress through the game’s various missions, you’ll be able to choose one of three difficulty levels. Depending on how hard you choose the mission to be, the game will let you have a certain number of mutations. Using the mutations on successful completion of the mission, you can increase one of four abilities. Each character has different abilities to improve upon such as Wolverine’s healing factor or Iceman’s ice beam. You can replay the game with your amped up characters later on to make it easier.
The missions though are what hold this game back, namely Wolverine’s tedious outings. Of the three characters, his missions were the ones I disliked the most. Most of the time you’ll just be fighting wave after wave of enemy characters slashing your way through groups of enemies Sounds fun on paper but it’s pretty boring after a few waves. There’s only so much tapping of the quick or strong attack before you start wondering when you can move on to the more interesting Iceman and Nightcrawler missions. To add to the monotonous gameplay of Wolverine, you’ll be facing a very low variety of enemies. To say that Wolverine’s missions are tedious would be an understatement.
Iceman’s missions have you always on the move gliding on your sheet of ice. Gliding around the landscape tracking down Pyro’s projectiles or taking on Sentinals can be rather fun. You’ll be using your ice powers to put out fires as well as tearing apart those mutant hunting machines. While a better experience than Wolverine’s route, Iceman’s missions can be frustrating. Since the game has no save points, you are forced to finish most missions in one sitting. I say most as there seems to be some missions that let you continue at a certain point should you fail. One particular mission that comes to mind that really had me frustrated was one where you had to race to a certain point within 5 minutes, take down the facility, and race to the exit with within a few seconds of the objective. If you fail to exit the level, you’re forced to start all the way from the beginning and race through the tunnels again. You would think you’d start out halfway through the tunnel after dodging many obstacles and fighting off a few Sentinel robots but alas that’s not the case. There are other missions that also exhibit this frustrating design which could’ve been avoided if appropriate save points were implemented.
Nightcrawler’s missions by far were the most enjoyable. It’s really fun to utilize Kurt’s teleporting abilities to traverse the levels quickly and to also take out the enemies. If you remember the beginning scene of X2 where Nightcrawler pummels all the secret service guards via confusion and quick attacks, you’ll get the idea on what Nightcrawler’s fighting abilities are in the game. Like Iceman’s missions, there are a few that suffer from the no save point issue where you can spend a better part of 5-10 minutes fighting demons only to die when close to finishing the level and being forced to start over again. The various missions really do play to Nightcrawler’s abilities and were the best designed of the three in my opinion. Plus, one mission features the great Colossus as an NPC.
For a next generation console, the graphics certainly aren’t reminiscent of the next generation. Models aren’t really detailed and the textures used are average compared to some of the early Xbox 360 titles out there. The architecture range from being very repetitive to very good depending on the level. With Wolverine, you do get to slice up some of the environments such as cutting trees down. The animations aren’t too bad though with Wolverine’s attacks being fluid and Nightcrawler’s movements mimicking the movie pretty well. There are also some minor physics in action as you can knock opponents over rails and onto ledges. When it happens you’ll see some nice subtle ragdoll effects as the body tumbles around. As an Xbox 360 game though, X-Men doesn’t really do anything to show off the power of the console.
I talked a little about the annoyances with the missions earlier but there are a few other annoyances that add up in the game. Wolverine can jump up pretty high but a two foot high rock can stop him dead in his tracks. You’ll see Wolverine clear the obstacle with ease but an invisible wall will force him to jump straight up in the air as you try to leap over it. While jumping is needed are certain points, to not be able to clear a small obstacle while trying to get away from a horde of enemies can be a bit frustrating.
Where most of the Activision Marvel games featured impressive rendered sequences for cut scenes, X-Men The Official Game takes a short cut and only offers static images in the form of comic book pages to advance the story. Only three voices from the movie appear in the game and the three (Iceman, Wolverine, Professor Xavier) have more detail in their cut scene pages than others. I don’t know if the team didn’t have time to create good cut scenes or thought that the graphic novel approach was a good way to go but after the high quality cut scenes from the X-Men Legends series, the cut scenes in X-Men The Official Game just pale in comparison.
The one thing the game really does well though is the boss fights. Each one is pretty unique and there are different aspects that make them fun. For example, the first fight between Wolverine and Deathstrike feature Storm generating a tornado on screen. If you’re not careful, you can be swept up by the wind and tumble around taking off some of your health. In turn you can also use this to your advantage by knocking Deathstrike into Storm’s tornado sending her flying as well. A good portion of the boss fights involve more than just beating the opponent to submission and that’s one thing the game excelled at.
With a very short storyline, you can finish this game in a few sittings. Once you complete the game, you’ll be able to unlock some character specific Danger Room scenarios that adds a little bit extra to gameplay. Still, the game is definitely not worth the $59.99 price tag of a next generation title. If you’re a fan of the movie, I’d say rent the game to see what happens between movies as well as play as Nightcrawler. Other than that, this game doesn’t offer anything really interesting as an action title. Otherwise, you should probably skip this title on the Xbox 360.
It's not good when you are bored playing Wolverine. The game's short but that's a good thing here as I don't think I could take much more of the product.