X-Men: The Official Game
I’m sure most of you have already seen X-Men: The Last Stand, the disappointing final chapter of the X-Men movie trilogy. X-Men: The Official Game is meant to give you useful background information to the Hollywood blockbuster (and to make some quick cash while at it, of course). Unfortunately, being a hero isn’t what it’s cracked up to be anymore…
X-Men: The Official Game is just another run-of-the-mill action title that hinges on a huge movie licence. Even the name of the game implies the idea. You get to play as Wolverine, Iceman and Nightcrawler. Aside from Wolverine, they’re not the most charismatic or interesting mutants, but they will just have to do. It would have far cooler to play as Cyclops, Storm or perhaps Magneto, but that’s not going to happen in this game.
X-Men’s biggest flaw is the fact that it’s just so generic. You just run through linear, not very inspired environments and you just bash the same types of enemies over and over again. In Wolverine’s case: just mash the quick attack and strong attack buttons, maybe occasionally use your special rage attacks and you’ll be fine. Nightcrawler focuses more on teleporting, evading enemy attacks and dealing quick counter blows. Iceman’s levels are more interesting, since they offer some gameplay variation. Iceman flies through wide environments, in stead of rampaging through narrow corridors and can use a variety of moves, such as launching an ice beam or a hailstorm. Still, don’t expect too much from those levels, since they’re only above average at best.
Throughout the game, you can earn upgrades (or ‘mutations’ as they’re called in the game). You earn more by finishing levels on higher difficulties. Those upgrades influence your stats (healing rate, blocking power,…) and have a noticeable impact on gameplay. This way, the game tries to encourage you to replay completed levels, which stretches the game’s lifespan by a fair margin (otherwise you’re likely to finish it in under 7 hours). X-Men: The Official Game doesn’t have multiplayer. It’s also interesting to note that the game does not offer checkpoints, which also smells more like a cheap marketing trick than a well thought-of decision. It’s those kind of frustrating elements that ultimately make this game not worth your wile.
The game’s presentation is kind of a mixed bag. Next to bland menus, the game doesn’t make use of movie fragments. This is clearly a missed opportunity. Even worse: there aren’t even CGI cutscenes in the game. What we do get are boring, comic-like interludes that try to offer some kind of cohesive plot. In reality, however, this game is just a quickly tied together bunch of stand-alone missions. The voice actors fare better. In fact, they’re one of the few highlights in the game. The cast of actual actors (Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming…) and stand-ins does a good job at filling in the otherwise superficial dialogue.
The graphics in X-Men: The Official Game are certainly not up to the Xbox 360′s standards. It’s clear the game was developed with the current-gen consoles in mind. This is visible in the muddy textures and fairly low-polyon models. On the X360, detail has improved a bit, but it’s hardly worth mentioning. The characters all move in very unnatural ways, so the animations could have gotten some more finishing too. The game’s lighting and special effects are ok, but we’ve seen it all better before. Luckily, the framerate maintains a steady level during the entire game.
All in all, X-Men: The Official Game is just another one of those rushed movie tie-ins that can’t live up to the namesake of the franchise. It incorporates sleep-indulging gameplay, uninspired leveldesign and graphics that are certainly not worthy of the next-gen monniker. Let me put it differently: X-Men: The Last Stand was a mediocre flick, but The Offical Game is worse.