Making decisions has become an important staple concept to many developers when creating video games over the years. Silicon Knights is no exception to this and neither is their latest title, X-Men: Destiny. This addition to the X-Men library is all about decisions, from the ones you make in game to the questionable ones made while creating the game. X-Men: Destiny, sadly is full of those questionable kinds of decisions, from the gameplay all the way to the look of the game itself.
Anyone who has ever played an X-Men game can probably attest to the fact that a game where you can create your own special mutant has been something we have all longed for once or twice. Silicon Knights answered this call the best way that they could, but sadly the answer falls short and doesn’t truly give us everything we wanted. Instead, we are just left asking for more.
X-Men: Destiny plays like a third person brawler with some RPG elements sprinkled on top. At the beginning of the game you choose your character for which you will progress through the story. Three different characters are at your disposal with predetermined appearances and back-stories. Next, you choose which ability your future X-Men/Brotherhood member will have. Initially, you choose from one of three different types of powers. Whichever of the these powers you pick determines how your powers evolve over time and what choices you get for greater powers later. These abilities are all quite different and make for a slightly varied experience. You can become a powerhouse with fists of steel, an energy projectile thrower, or an agile warrior who uses Shadow Matter to slice their opponents up.
X-Men: Destiny takes place Professor X is killed. He is struck down by a villain from the future who’s purpose is the destruction of all mutants. Destiny places you at a peace rally between mutants and humans, taking place in San Francisco. After the rally is unexpectedly attacked, the X-Men, the Brotherhood, and humankind are all thrust into chaos as all sides fight for there own survival. Your place in this conflict is the part of a new mutant whose powers have manifested in the middle of the destruction. From this point on, you fight to find out who attacked the rally and why, all the while making alliances with either the X-Men or the Brotherhood. These choices slightly determine how things unfold, although it tends to be the nearly the same no matter what.
As stated above, you pick from three initial abilities to start out the game with. As you progress, your powers can level up from experience you gather from defeating the swarms of enemies coming your way. As the game goes on, you are given choices of other powers you can have, based on whatever you chose at the beginning; these, too, can be leveled up. You also pick up collectable abilities, hidden throughout that help with different aspects and power-ups. Refilling your M-Power (special ability juice, basically) meter during combat, being able to deal more damage with attacks, dodging projectiles more easily, and special character costumes are just few of the perks these collectibles give you access to. Though it may seem like this could create some broken, jack of all powers mutant, it actually only adds subtle, helpful abilities to your arsenal. This makes your mutant unique and help each playthrough be different than the last, at least character-wise.
The landscape is probably one of the least impressive aspects of X-Men: Destiny. Aside from looking like a PS2 game, it is very linear. Your path is predetermined the only exploration you have is some small rooms off to the side of some areas. Story progression is much the same, giving you choices between the Brotherhood or X-Men within the dialogue options. The dialogue mainly consists of exposition from other mutants and they are there to accomplish. You will see many of these mutants throughout the game. Several famous mutants from the comics make cameos and even help you fight. Teaming up with Brotherhood and X-Men mutants can make for many epic battles and is one of the few things that breaks up the tedious fighting.
Despite all the options mentioned that can keep tedium at bay, nothing can stave it off for long. The combat is extremely repetitive, being mostly akin to the classic beat-em-up arcade games. With so much potential, this repetitive formula basically cuts the Achilles tendon of X-Men: Destiny mid race. The formula consists of killing 20 to 50 enemies in an arena-style area, moving on to the next one, defeating so many enemies again, then moving on to the next area. Just rinse and repeat for about five hours. All your attackers almost all look the same and their main strategy is to charge you head on. Basically, if you know anything about how to not stand still and get hit, you’ve pretty much mastered the counter strategy to most of the peons in the game.
Sadly, the controls don’t help in any way. The attacking feels clumsy and impact on your foes feels non-existent. The movement is stiff and the jumping exemplifies this.
In truth, I had some fun with X-Men: Destiny. This game in no way will influence video games in the future, however. It is an enjoyable brawler for the short game that it is, and it may even warrant another play through to experience the other powers. If you are a big fan of the X-Men, then you will probably enjoy this game for what it is: a simple (perhaps too simple), create your own mutant, brawler. If you’re not a fan, you will more than likely get tired of this game after your first hour or two of playing.
Final Grade: C+