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X-Men: The Official Game Package Art

X-Men: The Official Game

To gamers, a new movie tie-in game is a lot like the announcement of Vanilla Coke's discontinuation; while some may get their hopes up, everyone knows that disappointment is inevitable. Last week the DS got lucky with Over the Hedge, but it's got a new challenge with X-Men: The Official Game. Unfortunately, there looks to be a return to normalcy.


The action is viewed from a 3/4 perspective, with characters and backgrounds comprised of 2D sprites. Muddy and generic character models are often indistinguishable from one another, yet somehow manage to animate well. The static prerenders that sit in for backgrounds are reminiscent of Resident Evil, though they lack any atmosphere or charm. Locations vary from the depths of a jungle to a city bridge, though the stale and murky graphics make sure that they all feel the same. Occasionally a cut-scene will break up the action; these are composed of semi-animated comic book panels that are the only bright spot in a title that looks like it could be made for GBA without much trouble.


While the look of X-Men may end up getting away with being average, the audio is not so lucky. The music on display is horrendous, nearing abysmal. It only takes so long before the monotonous, bland 8-bit music from the nth circle of Hades sinks its single, dull tooth into the temple of the hapless player. Making this worse are the sound-effects, which aren't objectionable, but seeing as they're only used for attacks and explosions, they end up seeming rather sparse. Suffice to say, muting the sound altogether is not a bad idea.


From the view of the game, it looks similar to the great X-Men Legends series. Yet upon actually playing the game, players will be disappointed that itís a simple beat-'em up with little to add to the genre.

At first, this doesn't seem the case. Incredibly, X-Men takes advantage of the touch screen, as use of the stylus is essential to gameplay. Characters are moved around the playfield using the d-pad and attack exclusively when enemies are touched on-screen. Once an enemy has been tapped, the current X-Man will lock onto the enemy and keep attacking until he vanquishes his foe. While nothing groundbreaking, this is incredibly intuitive considering the expectations for a licensed movie tie-in, which usually don't even bother with the second screen.

Hitting the L button will cause players to switch between X-Men on the fly, who apparently share the same life bar and can only appear in the world one at a time through some miraculous teleportation device. As expected, different X-Men have different abilities. Wolverine is great at melee attacks and can heal himself, but can't attack flying enemies; Iceman can shoot projectiles at land and air-based foes, but not those equipped with fire shields; Magneto can throw stuff at people, and Nightcrawler can stop time whenever he wishes. Switching through these characters to accomplish different tasks is a fine idea enough, but when the game throws multiple obstacles at the player, it can become confusing and overwhelming to try to multitask with only one character on the screen at a time.

At the core, the game doesn't ever leave the fight-bad-guys-then-move-then-fight-more-bad-guys-then-pull-a-switch-then-move-then-fight-more-bad-guys conceit that has been with gaming for decades. Even with the unusually unique control scheme, playing through what are basically the same areas level after level gets old, even with the short playtime The Official Game provides. Whatís the use of intuitive control if players arenít given anything good to do with it?

The developers have a great license on their hands here, but it simply isnít used to its potential. By limiting the multi-talented X-Men to just one or two powers apiece, the greater potential fun factor is compromised. Adding to the anger of fans everywhere, the story is just inexplicable. Similar to the plots on GC and GBA, X-Men takes place between the second and third movies; a decent idea, until Magneto (who apparently takes orders from Professor X) shows up to help Wolverine find a previously-deceased Lady Deathstrike, which happens within the first few scenes; and why are these anonymous footsoldiers equipped with fire shields just to battle the rookie Iceman? Fans, nerds and nitpicky staff writers everywhere should avoid this game simply to avoid ulcers resulting from the ludicrous plot.




Another day, another licensed cash-in. Comic book games, by principle, have a great amount of potential but rarely live up to it. Playing as a hero should feel exhilarating, like web-slinging through New York in the Spider-Man 2 game. It shouldn't feel like manual labor, like pushing carts around in Shenmue. X-Men attempts to bring something new to the table with an interesting control scheme, but doesn't follow through with any sort of unique gameplay. And without hot fudge, a sundae is just, well, vanilla.

final score 5/10

Staff Avatar Tristan Cooper
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"Get out the umbrellas..."

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