Sadly, the appearance of other X-men during portions of the game only serves to remind the player they have access to only half the team. This combined with a lack of unique combos (whether single player, or through the combined use of multiple characters abilities) also detracts from the game play.
The only place where the level designers succeeded was in the boss levels. Combat with X-men villains, such as Sentinels or Pyro, a former mutant under Professor Xavier’s tutelage, is exceptionally well done. While this helps to drive the gamer through the tedium of the standard missions, it also serves to make the game that much more disjointed.
Visually, there is very little new in the Xbox version of this game. The environments are relatively well formed, if not overly engaging. Still, there are some standout moments. The battle between Iceman and Pyro over a nuclear power plant at sunset is particularly striking, especially in the detail of damage done to plant in contrast with the sunset on the horizon. The characters themselves are rendered in a way we’ve seen before, and offer nothing new, even in motion. The cutscenes do add a nice visual touch, as they are displayed in “comic book in motion” form: pages turning, written sound effects, as well as some spoken dialog. However, mission briefings/plot advancement is often done as written text or audio only, and sometimes over the top of the background sounds/action, making them nearly indistinguishable.
In terms of audio, the game is above average. This is mostly due to the voiceovers of Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming, Shawn Ashmore, and of course Patrick Stewart as Professior X. In an official movie game, having the main characters voice by the actors is key. The sound effects in the game are standard fare, with only the character specific sounds (such as Nightcrawler’s teleport) getting any sort of unique treatment. The voiceovers of the NPC’s are very average impersonations of the voices from the movie series.
Controls in the game are fairly standard and acceptable with only one real issue: camera control as Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler can only teleport to where he can see, and focusing the camera on specific items to teleport to can sometimes be a hassle, especially on missions requiring a large amount of movement in a short period of time.
In terms of overall game play, X-Men: The Official Game offers a mixed bag: well-known, likable characters in mostly familiar environments, doing what they do best. Sadly, the lack of a discernable plot, limited character selection, some bugs (enemies walking through barriers, jumping of the screen only to appear on the other side), and boring basic level play lead this game down a bad road.
If you’re a die-hard X-Men fan, you’ll really like playing as Iceman, and you’ll enjoy finding out why Nightcrawler isn’t with the X-Men in the movie. If you like hack and slash type games, you’ll enjoy playing as Wolverine. Seeing the enemies trotted out to act as bosses at the end of the levels is almost worth the price of admission. Overall, this game fails to live up to its title or its lineage. If you’re really in the mood to be one of the X-Men, you’re probably better off playing either of the X-Men Legends titles.
Uninspired, repetitive game play with little new to add to the X-Men mythos, X-Men: The Official Game serves mostly as a loose lead in to the 3rd movie. Decent voiceovers, good boss levels, and play as Iceman serve as the hallmark moments of the game.
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