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X-Men Destiny
Score: 50%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Silicon Knights
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
X-Men Destiny is an unattractive game that remains unattractive throughout its short length. There's unfortunately no getting around this. Some aspects of the presentation work well enough, and some of the cutscenes look decent. However, the in-game action is always choppy, muddled, and unsightly. Destiny may feature a San Francisco that is falling apart at the seams, but it sometimes feels as if the game itself is falling apart instead; texture pop-in is a common problem with several games, but model and item pop-in is a whole new level of sub-par visual fidelity. Nobody moves realistically, and even the mutant powers often don't look right. Nightcrawler doesn't so much teleport as he flickers in and out of the screen. And regardless of how you develop your mutant abilities, you'll never be impressed by them.

X-Men Destiny fails to deliver appealing visuals, and the same goes for the other half of the audio/visual presentation. The voice acting is completely forgettable when it isn't groan-inducing, though you can still play a game of "Who's Nolan North?" for all of the first minute of the game. Each of the main characters is supposed to be unsure of him or herself, but not even the talent behind the characters seems to be sold on the dialogue. Many of the line readings sound paradoxical, as if they come from people who don't know how to speak English very well, but have the accent down pat nonetheless. The worst offender is Gambit, whose accent sounds like a bizarre mix of Parisian (as opposed to Creole) French and Rastafarian.

X-Men Destiny features the perfect setup for a modern X-Men game. Relations between mutants and the rest of humanity are worse than ever, and Charles Xavier, the world's foremost champion for peaceful co-existence, is no more. His mission is now that of Cyclops, who aims to further his goals by appearing at a peace rally in San Francisco. This opening scene sets the stage and serves as an introduction to three new characters to the X-Men universe: Grant Alexander, Aimi Yoshida, and Adrian Luca. (You must choose between these three, who, like the rest of the story, are given enough background to prove promising.) It's bad enough that anti-mutant extremists known as Purifiers are attending the rally, but things boil to a head when the rally is attacked by an unknown assailant. Conveniently enough, whichever character you choose suddenly finds him or herself in possession of mutant abilities (which you also choose at certain points). And thus begins your journey to prevent (or encourage) all-out war with humanity.

Doesn't that sound awesome? This game was probably very easy to pitch, as the core ideas are easy to mold around a decent videogame. Additionally, they lend themselves well to the X-Men mythos. However, great ideas do not a great game make. The execution is almost completely fumbled, as X-Men Destiny is not much fun to play at all. It's a very straightforward action game that involves progressing down a linear path while taking out wave after wave of incredibly weak enemies. This is all that X-Men Destiny offers, and it gets really old really fast.

X-Men Destiny is a pushover. If you really felt the desire to, you could complete the game in one sitting. However, it leaves such a terrible first impression that you might be hard-pressed to return to it after spending thirty minutes with it. It's a boring, tedious slog through a world that just so happens to be inhabited by some of Marvel's most famous superheroes.

The simplicity of the combat is matched by the staggering ineptitude of the enemy A.I. As long as you hit the (R1) button within a one-second margin of error, you will be awarded with a parry, as well as a slightly fuller M-Power Meter. Enemies don't put up much of a fight, otherwise. All you really have to do is get close and hammer on any button combination you choose. It's unfortunately only that simple.

Game Mechanics:
X-Men Destiny doesn't have a lot of meat on its bones, and I'm not only talking about the brevity of the experience. This is an elementary action game that features only the basic of basics. If you have the ability to mash the (Square) button repeatedly, only pausing here and there to add in a (Triangle) or two -- and maybe a (Circle) and an (R1) just for the hell of it, you can beat X-Men Destiny with barely any resistance from the game. As you earn experience, you are given the opportunity to level up your skills, much like in God of War. The sense of progress is satisfying enough, but that doesn't mean anything when the game isn't fun to play.

When you're not fighting Purifiers, you'll come into contact with several high-profile X-Men regulars. You'll cross paths with Emma Frost, Mystique, Wolverine, and Toad -- more than once. However, X-Men Destiny makes the fatal error of insisting that your actions and choices have consequences, when in actuality, they hardly do at all. The story-based consequences are minimal to say the very least, and the game-based consequences are flat-out nonexistent.

I don't usually dog on a game for having too many customization options, but I feel the need to call X-Men Destiny out on it anyway. Over the course of the game, you'll acquire different X-Genes and special costumes, which can be mixed and matched. I'm fine with that, but my problem has to do with the fact that this concept betrays one of the X-Men fundamentals. This series is a celebration of the individual. Your character can be imbued with abilities that are flat-out aped from other X-Men, and while it adds an ever-so-slight role-playing edge to the game, it feels too forced.

If I was given the task of grading the ideas behind X-Men Destiny, the score you see at the top would be much, much higher. However, the final product is unpolished and boring enough to the point where it really doesn't matter how big a fan you are.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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