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X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Package Art
††Raven Software

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Like many video game fans, I am also a fan of comic books. And also like many comic book fans, I had a phase where I loved the X-Men. While games and comics are and were some of my favorite pastimes, most of my experiences with licensed games was limited to what I played in the arcades. I never bought an X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman or any other comic license in gaming form, save Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

That being said, Activision has done a great job with X-Men Legends II. It's not perfect, but thereís a lot to like in terms of raw gameplay and production values. Also, thereís a lot of replay value, unlockables, and group fun to be had.

Comics fans who are willing to let continuity slide a little for sake of a narrative that collects a lot of the best X-Men locales, villains and guest characters will be in for a treat.


Characters are rendered in a cel-shaded style that helps balance the fact that the geometry on the characters is somewhat bland; yet the characters themselves are very distinctive, and the higher level mutant powers are a lot of fun to watch. Some of the boss battles also dazzle. There are 100 enemy models and the variety of them and of the locales you visit keeps things fresh.


Most of the voicework is excellent, and every mutant gets his time to shine in special cutscenes. It should be noted that there is extra incentive to rotate your character sets around so that you do not have to hear the same set of battle cries throughout the came, even if the characters do sound good. Sound effects are decent, but do not necessarily convey the sense of power unleashed.


Having only briefly played X-Men Legends, I based my expectations on a former stafferís review of the game. While I found X-Men Legends II to be more enjoyable and streamlined than its predecessor, my personal experience with the prequel wasn't as strong as the reviewer's. Please bear this in mind as we continue.

Your merry team of four, be it from the X-Men or the Brotherhood, must beat the holy hell out of everything on the map, and do so in locations from the Savage Land to Egypt. Each character has a set of powers and skills unique to their mutant heritage, so you can expect to see Toad leap about and Bishop absorb energy. It pays to have a strategy in picking teams, as some obstacles require specific abilities to pass.

At Activisionís E3 preview, they emphasized to me the new power selection method, which is the biggest gameplay change from the old game: you no longer have to pause the game to access your full library of available powers. Add this to the optional automatic skill and point distributions for leveling up and you have a game that can be easily enjoyed by casual gamers or hardcore fans. It keeps players in the action and away from stat-managing should they so choose.

Your A.I. team will do a competent job of busting heads and can automatically heal themselves in a pinch instead of letting themselves get killed off. If you want to go it alone or with fewer than four, you can do that as well; X-Men Legends II is nothing, if not scalable.

Your mutant powers are the stars, and using them is a lot of fun. Most of your attacks will be mutant powers after you advance a dozen levels or so. While the melee attacks assigned to A and B are a necessary element to proceedings until you acquire a library of powers to choose from, I couldnít help but think while playing that a large amount of controller real-estate was allotted to functions not incredibly vital to the game. Targeting is a minor issue; most powers find their target, but you will occasionally wish that a lock-on feature was included after whiffing a critical blow.

By yourself, this is a dungeon crawl with extra flair. The combat is fun, and you can change out team members when you feel that things are getting stale, which unfortunately does happen. This is because the combat never approaches the level of depth that your character development does, which is a letdown.


Slap together four players and X-Men Legends II becomes all kinds of co-op fun. With the game's programming being accustomed to handling four characters anyway, the engine performs the same. Moreover, power combo moves become easier with a human to sync with, meaning a group with coordination can progress faster than a solo player with A.I. allies could. Add the above-mentioned freedom from pausing and this becomes one of the better multiplayer experiences on the GC this year.


Itís better than its predecessor, better than most licensed games, and perhaps better than the legendary X-Men arcade game. X-Men Legends II does almost everything well. X-Men fans will be particularly pleased, and the game is enjoyable enough that players who have only seen the movie will have a gaming experience compelling enough to play with or without friends.

final score 8.5/10

Staff Avatar Matt McDaniel
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"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"

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