I was very excited when I first heard about X-Men: Destiny, the latest from Silicon Knights and Activision. The concept sounded great, and I was looking forward to playing a new mutant character, interacting with the Marvel universe, and fighting alongside some of my favorite X-Men, and maybe alongside some of my favorite Brotherhood mutants as well. Sadly, X-Men: Destiny is another sad example of a great idea that needed a better execution. There are some good things about the game, but for the most part, the game sadly feels like a missed opportunity.
For starters, there really aren’t a lot of options for your character. You can choose between three different pre-made characters; a girl smuggled out of Japan, a college football star, and a young man raised by the mutant-hating Purifiers.
The game kicks off at a rally for peace between humans and mutants, not long after both Professor X and Magneto are presumed to have been killed by the mutant-hunting robot from the future, Bastion. The rally is interrupted by a display of mutant power that seems to be Magneto’s doing, and chaos erupts very quickly. At this point, you choose the power set your character will use through the rest of the game. Again, the choices are limited to three. You have the choice of Density Control, which makes your character more resistant to damage and turns you into a rock-enhanced melee’ brawler, Energy Projection, which is primarily made up of ranged energy attacks, and Shadow Matter, which grants your character a limited teleportation ability and allows them to create blades out of dark matter. You can also enhance your character by picking up X-Genes throughout the game as either hidden collectibles or rewards for completing various challenge missions scattered throughout the game. The X-Genes allow you to add aspects of other mutants to your character. For example, equipping the Quicksilver Offensive X-Gene will make your character attack more quickly, equipping the Colossus Defensive X-Gene will cause your character’s skin to turn to steel occasionally and grants you higher damage resistance, and equipping Magneto’s Utility X-Gene will give you the power to fly via magnetism the way Magneto does once you fully level up the Gene.
The story for the game is a pretty standard X-Men scenario. The mutant-hating group The Purifiers is attacking and abducting mutants in San Francisco, and your character needs to help both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants figure out what’s going on and how to stop them. As you progress through the game, you learn more about what’s really going on, but the ultimate reveal of the actual puppet master doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is done quite well, and it is a decent story, it’s just not one that stretches the boundaries of what you’d expect from a comic-book tale.
X-Men: Destiny does do a few things quite well. There’s a pretty nice variety of X-Men characters to interact with over the course of the game, the combat is pretty intuitive and easy to pick up, the story is pretty well done, and the voice acting is quite good with the exception of a couple of the characters. That being said, there are many things that X-Men: Destiny doesn’t do all that well.
First off, the story has its share of weaknesses. Yes, it’s good overall, but there really wasn’t enough difference in the stories of your three character choices. While each character has a very different back story that you see at the beginning of the game, after that, there’s almost nothing different between any of the characters. A few different bits of dialogue, but that’s it. More work could have been done I think to have each character have a more unique story. Adrian, the former Purifier is the best example of this. Adrian has been raised his whole life to hate mutants by his father, who even died fighting against mutants. Then, during the attack on the rally, Adrian discovers that he himself is a mutant, and his reaction seems to be, “So, I’m a mutant? Oh well.” They could have done a lot more with the story. Also, another weakness is the “choices” you have to make in the course of the story. There are several times throughout the game when you have to make a choice and the outcome of that choice will give you more standing with either the X-Men or with Magneto’s Brotherhood, basically pushing you closer to good or evil. However, ultimately the choices you make are rendered meaningless because there is one moment in the game where you simply choose what side you’re on. So much more could have been done with the stories of each of the characters and with the option to make moral choices in the game. However, the game’s length definitely hampers this. If you apply yourself, you can probably play through the whole game in about five or six hours.
Another weakness of the game is the graphics. They don’t look bad, but the Havok engine is definitely starting to show its age, and things just don’t look as good as they could have. Also, many of the backgrounds in the game simply aren’t all that interesting.
Finally, the game’s combat is very repetitive. You will spend most of the game fighting against wave after wave of Purifier troops that seem to consist of mobs of the same two or three character models. The game does throw in a couple of other groups at certain points in the game, and you do get to fight against a few of the more iconic X-Men characters in the form of level bosses, but this really can’t make up for the sameness of most of the enemies in the game. Also, you’ll spend pretty much the entire time going using the same few moves against groups of enemies. The X-Genes do let you spice things up a little bit, but once you find a combination that really works for you, you probably won’t want to bother experimenting that much.
All in all, X-Men: Destiny is a decent game; it just isn’t as good of a game as it could have been if some more time had been taken with it. As it stands, it just seems like it was rushed to completion and feels rather incomplete. I’d really have loved to have seen how this game would have been if a few more months had been spent in development. Given the game’s shortness, its rather disappointing visuals and story and its repetitive combat, it’s not a game that’s worth spending sixty dollars. My suggestion would be to go and rent the game for a weekend, since it probably won’t hold your attention for longer than a couple of days. What is there is fine, but it is nowhere near as good as it could be, and it just feels as if more could have been put into the game.
The game’s website can be viewed at http://www.herohq.com/xmendestiny/