While I do read comic books, I don’t consider myself to be “that guy.” You know, “that guy” that can tell you how each one of DC's 52 universes is different or why Green Lantern’s ring works on yellow things now, or why Superman wears what appears to be a towel instead of a cape in the new Action Comics.
Okay, so that paragraph probably does mean I am “that guy,” but as you may have guessed, I am ‘that guy’ that reads DC Comics. I am not coming into X-Men Destiny flying blind, though. Like many of my contemporaries, I have had plenty of exposure to Marvel’s mighty mutants thanks to the X-Men cartoon of the early 90’s, the awesome 1992 six-player arcade game, and the recent movies.
X-Men Destiny is a third-person beat-em-up currently available for all three current-gen consoles. This review is based on a playthrough of the PlayStation 3 version.
Destiny opens in San Francisco, where human-mutant relations have reached a low point following the death of Professor X at the hands of Bastion and the dissolution of the X-Men. Cyclops and Mutant Response Division Chief Luis Reyes are seeking to mend relations by hosting a peace rally. The rally is attacked by an unknown force, at which point the player character’s mutant powers have manifested. You then select one of three powers and get to smashing up baddies.
Custom-fit Genes - After picking your character, you are given a choice of three mutant powers to pick from. As you progress through the game, you earn new powers that expand upon your initial choice. In addition, ‘X-Genes’ and suits based on X-Men can be found that provide additional mutant powers. It was fun to customize my character and change things up depending on the situation.
Guest-Starring - You will come across many X-Men as well as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as you progress through the game. There are quite a few B-listers though, which diminishes the ‘wow’ factor a little bit. Voice acting is mostly well done, and in many cases, the voice actors from the “Wolverine and the X-Men” animated series reprise their roles.
Why These Men? - Despite having the name “X-Men” in the title, the mighty Marvel mutants are all NPCs. If you were looking forward to playing as Wolverine or Gambit then you will be disappointed to find that X-Men Destiny is all about the three new characters whose silhouettes adorn the bottom of the cover. The new guys aren’t terribly interesting; you have a good character, a bad character, and a neutral character. The one you pick doesn’t really matter though, as you will see in my next point.
Choose Your Own (Identical) Adventure - While the game claims that you have choices in this game, you really don’t have any as far as the story is concerned. The same dialogue is spoken by NPCs regardless of which choice you make or which character you play as. It gets a little odd, because the script appears to have been written with a hero in mind. When I played as the mutant-hating ‘bad guy’ character, I lost track of how many times he said “Why am I doing this?” to himself as he helped save the mutants that he so violently hated at the start of the game.
Its Mutant Power is Slowdown - Consoles have gotten so powerful in this generation that I didn’t think slowdown even existed anymore. Sadly, it rears its ugly head in X-Men Destiny. Once NPCs join in and start unleashing effects-laden attacks all at once, the game will chug as it tries to keep up. It is not bad enough to affect gameplay, but it is noticeable, especially in later parts of the game.
X-Men Destiny is a very blah beat-em-up that failed to excite me. I wouldn’t recommend it to X-Men fans because you don’t get to play as any of the real X-Men. Frankly, I don’t understand why Marvel keeps trying to make games that don’t feature their A-list characters. People want to play as Wolverine and Jean Grey, not some random John or Jane Doe who’s going to spend half the game whining about “OH NOES I HAVE POWERS WHAT DO I DO?” Besides, Jubilee already fills that role.
Except for the occasional slowdown, the gameplay is competent, and there are are a pretty good variety of powers to experiment with. Replaying the game is pretty pointless, as the story barely changes depending on the choices you make. X-Men Destiny is an okay effort, but make mine something else.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*