X-Men Legends N-Gage Review

With plenty of mutants, an interesting storyline and great presentation, X-men legends really starts off well. Beyond that, this is the kind of game a fan like myself would really want to love, but something goes terribly wrong.

Gameplay

The biggest flaw of the entire game is right here: gameplay. Everything in X-men Legends sounds really good on paper but it doesn’t work out quite as nicely: you pick a 4-man team, can give the AI orders, have special powers and many great items. Yet… something is not right. The AI is stupid and won’t heal themselves when they are almost downed, for example. There are only 2 attack buttons: normal attack and special attack, making X-men Legends pretty much a button basher. The RPG elements aren’t done too well either. Furthermore the environment is often confusing because of the huge size, opposed to the small screen present on the N-gage.

So much more is wrong as well, but I’ll refrain myself from just listing a hundred reasons why I don’t like the gameplay. In fact, not all is bad. Being able to pick from a wide range of mutants for a mission is pretty nifty, surely pleasing every fan. I expect a lot of people to appreciate the difficulty that X-men Legends offers as well, I sure did. Although the game really feels like a button basher, the user has to spend time gathering items and experience or they will not even have half a chance fighting a boss battle. In X-men Legends, going prepared is everything. Sadly, this is just about all the strategy the game offers. Once you enter a battle there really isn’t much to do: try to stun your enemies by attacking, preferably with special attacks, curing your team in the progress. It often feels like you are fighting the same battle over and over again. However, there is one more thing that I really liked about the gameplay in X-men Legends: saving. Being able to save at any point in the game, and doing so quickly is not only a nice addition; it is also a must for any handheld game.

Will the gameplay of X-men Legends please anyone? No, I don’t think so. Whether you enjoy RPG elements, adventure games, squad based games or whatever else, X-men Legends just doesn’t deliver anything satisfying when it comes to gameplay.

Graphics

Most of the time the graphics are very functional and sometimes, usually during cut scenes, they are even beautiful. However once your mutants learn a few special attacks, battles can quickly become difficult to follow, framerate will quickly drop and in my case it also means a lot of player frustration. Don’t get scared away just yet though, because the graphics in X-men Legends are good most of the time. A big plus were the always-different environments: from sewers to the X-men mansion to streets. Sadly though the combat looks very simple, especially when you decide to save your special attacks and just rapidly press the ‘5’ for a normal attack, you will often wonder if anything is happening at all. It is because of this, and the unstable framerate, that the graphics are just short of a very nice score. I should repeat however that most of the time the graphics are functional, which once again makes gameplay the bottleneck and not the visuals.

Sound

There are so many things that I appreciated about the sounds in this game. For example, voices. Usually reading through so much text as in X-men Legends would make me go insane, but thanks to the voices this whole experience was made easier to endure. Furthermore there are tons of other sounds, but everything lacks the same central thing: quality. The voices are something I really love just for being present, but the voice acting itself is horrible for several characters. Because battles are repetitive, battle sounds are repetitive as well. Not exactly the fault of the sounds department. I thought the sounds were the best part of the game. Just for making me endure the endless dialogue.

Lifespan

This is a very long game, I’m not so sure if that’s a good thing. I suppose that if you like the gameplay then you will get more than your money’s worth out of it on the first run in single player. I can’t imagine anybody playing through it a second time, even though there are special items. I just don’t see how most people will stick with this one through the end though. The reward is so very slim and at times you really have to force yourself to keep playing. Lifespan suffers from the same problem as everything else in this game: bad gameplay brings this department down. I should repeat however, those of you who for some reason actually like the gameplay should be more than satisfied with the lengthy and challenging quest.

Overall

This is the textbook example of what happens when gameplay is lame: everything else suffers under it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun picking your mutants and choosing which special powers you want to use. But this part is less than 5% of the entire game, most of the game is all about running around aimlessly fighting the same enemies over and over again. Boss battles are good, but there is little you can do on the spot to change the tide. Those of you who don’t actively pick up items and such will have a major problem in boss fights, while those of you who go prepared will win any battle just by using all the different items that this game has to offer. Running around rapidly pressing ‘5’ every time you meet an enemy is the main part of the game, which is also the most boring part of the game. I mentioned that some elements of X-men Legends were kind of fun, so if you have no problem, or even enjoy, the main gameplay element then this is the game for you. It is put together very well and the story is great. Most people will get bored, will stop caring and won’t even come close to finishing this game though.

Those of you looking for fun, look elsewhere. X-men Legends isn’t for everyone, people will need to push themselves if they will want to even think about finishing it. In fact I wonder if this game is for anyone at all. There are simply better games than this on the N-gage. Gameplay is flawed and although not a total disaster, this is the reason why I suspect that few people will actually enjoy this game. So if you’re in doubt, stay away. Best advice you’ll ever hear on X-men Legends for N-gage.

4 out of 10
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