perjantai 15. elokuuta 2014

REVIEW - X-Men - The Official Game | DS | 2006

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: May 16, 2006
DEVELOPER(S): Amaze Entertainment
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

Activision had five different developers working on versions of X-Men - The Official Game for seven different systems. While duties for the Game Boy Advance version fell onto the ostensibly experienced WayForward Technologies - who fell a little short of the expectations of the target group - the DS version was handled by Amaze Entertainment, who had extensive experience working on licensed games for kids and young adults alike. Not that they were ever that praised, but at least they had a hunch of what they were doing. Or so we thought - they got a little carried away here.

Touch too much

Lady Deathstrike turns up alive and well, and Wolverine follows her trail to Japan, with Professor X, Iceman and an "old friend" trying to bring him back to the mansion where he's needed. Meanwhile, the Professor contacts Nightcrawler and asks for his help in dealing with an anti-mutant organization which is somehow linked to Wolverine's vendetta.

I smell something else.
X-Men - The Official Game, round 2, does not start with with warm thoughts. Though fragments remain the same, the plot's all different from what I just got accustomed with. It's not such a bad deal otherwise, but I'm getting a little confused as to what's really the gap-filler here. Of course it's the console version, but why drag these handheld games even further down in value by intentionally making them so poetically insignificant? More importantly, I still have some personal issues with the DS, even after witnessing good gameplay and even a couple of truly good if not great games in at least five out of the ten-something experiences I've had thus far (most of which I've not reviewed, how ironic). MOST importantly, the Game Boy Advance game sucked - and mostest importantliest (heh), this game got even worse reviews than the other Nintendo handheld iteration of the game. No, this time the problem isn't the usual one. This is definitely a DS game, made with the DS' capabilities in mind; not a Game Boy Advance game disguised with a second screen. The biggest problem is of the exact opposite kind.

The game looks pretty good - occasionally very rough, but generally decent enough to pass the test. The cutscenes are done in a comic book style, but this time they actually feature drawn versions of the film characters; the splash screens have HD portraits of the actual characters as they appear on film. So in this case the game takes the comfortable middle road. Still no stills from the movies, which in this case is a bigger relief than usual since the game isn't directly based on any of them. The music is also quite good, it mostly lives on the magic of stereo sound though. There you are at the title screen, humming along to the theme song - then you touch the screen as the game tells you to, and it just simply goes to hell.

Long story short, this iteration of the title is a top-down action-"adventure" game. The 40 levels of the game switch between fetchquests, boss fights and just plain ol' action levels in which you need to survive a few scripted waves and then just make your way to the exit, at a very uneven balance and pace. They averagely last from one to five minutes each. Getting through any kind of level with a top score - in other words, collecting these score thingies scattered across the levels, defeating as many enemies as possible, and finally getting through the level within the time limit shown on the upper screen, as well as the rest of your HUD, earns you a rank from one to five, or as the game puts it, "Upgrade Score". Don't believe that shit, you can't upgrade anything in this game. Least of all your very own motivation.

Like in the Game Boy Advance game, you start off as Wolverine and him alone, but the next couple of levels introduce the rest of the playable cast: Iceman, Nightcrawler, and finally, out of the nearly purest blue, Magneto. Having the X-Men's deadly nemesis along for the ride for the first time in a traditional action game is probably the most notable upside to this whole slug... on paper. Nightcrawler's teleportation ability has never worked in a video game and it doesn't start to have any more use here. Magneto works just weird, and it will probably take you a long time to get used to his ability (if you've played "Obi-Wan" in Angry Birds: Star Wars, you know what I mean). I've always thought Iceman was a wuss. That leaves Wolverine, again. Well, he's not a darling to control either. You see, I've often criticized these games for bad controls but this game just takes the cake. They went too far.

Oh shit, the tail gave me away.
Every X-Men has a specialty, of course - just having Wolverine kick all kinds of ass is not possible. You have to switch between the available characters all the time, occasionally at a very rapid pace, by using L. Get this: L is the only button that actually has some use in this game. You use the digital pad to move - yeah, duh, but get THIS: you ALSO use X, Y, B and A to MOVE! It's like a second digital pad, probably designed for the left-handed, 'cause every action - that's your basic attack and very little else - is touch-based. You can just imagine how comfortable it is to control your character with one of the sides of the DS, and constantly poke the small screen with that damn stick - not to forget that you're supposed to pay constant attention where you poke so that your punches will actually do something. It's horrible, I tell you. When I switched to the DS emulator to get screenshots, it didn't get any more comfortable having a controller in the other hand and the mouse in another, and my will to live shattered when I got to the first Nightcrawler level.

I didn't beat the retail game either, 'cause I grew so tired of the awful gameplay around the 17th or 18th level. The generic Game Boy Advance platformer was a dream compared to this.boring, but even more specifically painful wannabe action-adventure. In good news, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, and the X-Men franchise has now reached it. After seven months of vigorous testing of my patience and endurance, I'm FINALLY heading to the final game of the X-Men branch of the Marvel marathon, and I can you tell you right now that it will end on a slightly more positive note than any of you might've expected.

+ Looks and sounds like a DS game instead of a superficially enhanced Game Boy Advance game

- Simply awful gameplay... and that's all that it takes

< 4.1 >

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