While few elements have changed from last year's X-Men Mutant Academy
(whose release coincided perfectly with its Hollywood blockbuster counterpart), Activision's sequel brings more robust gameplay, added battlegrounds, and a slew of fresh new characters and extras to the playing field. Graphically, X-Men Mutant Academy 2
continues to push the limits of an aging system to the max with its fluid character models and impressive scaling. Most of the original fighters stay true to their form, while a handful of newcomers (Rogue, Nightcrawler, Forge, Havok, and then some) come through with the goods as well. Backgrounds still appear a bit blocky and dull, but hey, the action's all in the foreground!
Real ambivalences come through in the sound department, though; we get a pretty standard electronic/rock soundtrack while treated to an excellent array of voice acting. Many characters sound exactly like their television/arcade equivalents, but a few (especially Toad's) become quite annoying after only a few matches. And if you're an audiophile, you'll notice right away the sound team's apparent hastiness in sampling and recording many of the voice clips; several pre-round quips are followed by audible pops and clicks that shouldn't have made it into the game, and all of Forge's new banter was obviously recorded much louder than that of the other characters. Ouch.