X-Men Destiny Xbox 360 Review

Back in my youth I used to read a lot of comics, and one of my favourites was the X-Men. Over the years I have always been on the lookout for a game that combined my love of comics and gaming. Thirty years on and I’m still looking, but so far I’ve not found one X-Men game that has really fulfilled the potential of an X-Men game. There’s been some good efforts, a lot of absolute crap, and by now I’m sure you’re wondering which camp X-Men Destiny is going to fall in.

I did have some pretty high hopes for this title because on paper it looked good. Play as a new mutant, choose your powers, and work your way through a branching storyline making morality choices. Sounds pretty great right? I was a little worried about the lack of previews being given, and footage shown prior to release, but I put that to the back of my mind. Maybe I shouldn’t have. The game we have ended up with follows the outline of the game we were promised very loosely, very very loosely. It is in fact a third person brawler with very few choices, which make almost no difference to the story. But could it still be fun, even if it doesn’t live up to what we were told?

X-Men Destiny all starts off at a mutant peace rally to commemorate the death of Professor X, and you get your first choice of the game. Choose between three mutants who don’t know of their supernatural abilities yet. An American football jock, a Japanese immigrant girl, and an anti-mutant hardliner’s son. It doesn’t really matter who you choose, it makes no difference to the gameplay or story. So much for choices making a difference. The rally is soon attacked by mutants and it’s not long before you are cornered and have to defend yourself, giving you your next choice.

This is the only choice in the game that makes any real difference, and that is what your mutant power will be. You get to choose between density control, energy projection and shadow matter, all of which determine what attacks you get for taking out the bad guys. At first it doesn’t make much difference, as all you have are your basic light and heavy attacks however as the game progresses you will get a select choice of special moves to use that make more of your choice in power. The powers are actually one of the high points of the game and add some variety to the otherwise repetitive combat.

Your powers can also be enhanced and improved using ‘X-Genes’ and experience points, adding some minor RPG elements to the game. Most interesting of the X-Genes (which you can find littered throughout the game) are that they allow you to give your chosen character powers and suits from some of the other mutants in the game. This allows you to mix and match abilities for some interesting combinations. Maybe you’d like to add Pyro’s flame to your offensive attacks, Toad’s poison to your defences, and Quicksilver’s speed as your utility whilst donning Magneto’s attire to become the ultimate Brotherhood member.

There’s plenty more choices throughout the game all related to whether you side with the X-Men or Magneto’s Brotherhood. But these make very little difference other than who you partner in missions, and the end animation you receive on completion. It’s a real shame more work wasn’t put in to this aspect of the game, even if it was just two different storylines relative to the two mutant factions. It’s just lazy game design the way it is and absolutely criminal that a game supposedly based on making choices has ended up so linear.

The game is average at best, or it would be if it wasn’t for some serious technical and aesthetic issues. To start with it’s an exceedingly ugly game, at best it has last-generation graphics, which is pretty damned sloppy. The artistic style is bland and generic looking too, which is strange considering the opening movie is done in a hand-drawn style. If they’d gone with a similar approach for the in-game visuals things would have been a lot better visually. Then we have the unskippable cutscenes. If you die, or accidentally select the same choice in a conversation with a character you end up having to sit through the same bits of dialogue or fight setup all over again. To make a long story short: Repetition sets in, and fast.

Finally there are just bad glitches that shouldn’t be in a finished game like characters getting stuck behind scenery, or floating above settings. It’s just a poorly designed and badly executed game that should have been so much more. X-Men Destiny is a sad excuse for a game, and do you know what’s even sadder? Who made it. Silicon Knights, who created great titles such as Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes in the last generation. Too Human was bad, but I hoped it was just a blip. But this title proves otherwise. I don’t think I’ve seen a developer fall from such great expectations in a long time.

If you are an X-Men fan, save your money. If you must, give it a rental. But under no circumstances should you waste your money on this. The less people buy it the better, maybe then Activision will get the message that they can’t get away with substandard rubbish like this.

3/10

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Version tested: Xbox 360

Also available on: Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii

Developer: Silicon Knights

Publisher: Activision

Genre: Action/adventure