torstai 14. elokuuta 2014

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

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: May 16, 2006
DEVELOPER(S): WayForward Technologies
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

X-Men - The OFFICIAL Game? Well, how about that? What's the definition of "official" here? Were the other gazillion X-Men games somewhat unauthorized? Is this game supposed to be the cream of the crop, worthy enough to be endowed with the word "official"? Let's cut the crap; X-Men - The Official Game was released as a tie-in video game to X-Men: The Last Stand, the final film in the original X-Men trilogy which has since been expanded to a prequel trilogy and a stand-alone Wolverine flick, both of 'em quality stuff if you ask me. (The Last Stand itself sucked horse balls. Just putting it out there.) What might explain the "official" part in the subtitle is that the game was the first X-Men game that actually had more to do with the films than the comic books... sorta. Instead of a direct adaptation of the film - which was yet to premiere - the game was a stand-alone story in the film series' continuity, written to bridge the gap between X2 and The Last Stand. What started as a quite interesting and lucrative idea turned into a poor excuse of a beat 'em up-oriented action game. Two completely different conversions of the same plot were released for both of Nintendo's handhelds. Let's start with the Game Boy Advance version - if we must.

Colossal headache

Wolverine, Colossus, Iceman and Nightcrawler return to Alkali Lake after the tragic events that took Jean Grey's life and put Cyclops out of commission, to retrieve spare parts for Professor X's sabotaged Cerebro. They're greeted by a few old acquaintances as well as a couple of new adversaries.

Falling down towards the end of this
marathon of crap! Whee!
After finishing the review for X-Men: Wolverine's Rage, I said there were four reviews left, but make that five. I was completely certain Activision would've taken the easy way out with the handheld games and release two practically identical games for the Advance and the DS. Hell, I was fully prepared for the DS version to have some sort of splash image on the second screen (as if to say "hey, aren't we technologically adept?"), but play out and look exactly the same as the Game Boy Advance version. Well, it turns out they're "completely" different games, with "completely" different features. We'll see when we get to the next review, but if this Game Boy Advance title is any indication of what's coming, the future is not looking good. Three years after a quite decent showing in X2: Wolverine's Revenge, the X-Men franchise takes several steps back with a typical, sticky action-platformer that simply is not fun to play. How ironic that the game was developed by a company calling themselves "WayForward" when the game's the exact opposite - and you know what the company had on their backlog those days, way before they hit it big by getting associated with Silent Hill and DuckTales? Barbie games, games based on the animated version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and one of my everlasting 16-bit "favourites", Mickey's Ultimate Challenge, plus several other crappy licensed games for kids, expiration date slated for whenever they learned to talk. Neato. And here we have an X-Men game. Feeling confident yet?

The game doesn't look that bad; it's just quick, generic work in general. It's hard to tell the playable characters apart. The cutscenes look quite all right, and personally I'm fine with the comic book caricatures of the film characters rather than badly digitized mug shots you see in so many licensed games of the era, not to mention those revolting movie stills. I last played the game five minutes ago, and I can honestly say I can't remember the music at all, it's of that variety of stock.

Wolverine's the cover boy and stars as the lead character, as well as the character you inevitably start the game with - as well as the only truly useful character in the bunch due to his range and speed. How surprising... the other playable characters are Iceman and Nightcrawler, and exclusively in this version of the game, Colossus. Characters that haven't been featured in these games for a long time, that's cool. It's funny that the exclusive character is the second most valuable character, but only due to his ability to smash certain obstacles and objects that stand in the way of actual progress. He's strong as hell, of course, but he has pathetic range. You practically have to stand an inch away from an enemy to deal damage as Colossus, and that way you'll take damage yourself, all the time. Like in that Madness in Murderworld game ages past, you can switch characters at any time the storyline allows you to, but once a character's K.O.'d, he remains that way. This time, though, there are unlimited continues, generous checkpoints, and whenever you need Colossus, it's usually in a point where it's virtually impossible to lose.

Everybody: "It's a Juggernaut!"
The game is an extremely typical, easy platformer in which making progress reminds me of that X-Men: Wolverine's Rage game on the Game Boy Color, in the sense that your only goal is to make it through the levels. It doesn't matter how much ass you kick, nothing matters except getting to the exit. You can just run through the levels if you feel like it, 'cause there are no power-ups, no collectibles, nothing to even the odds. The control scheme is, should I say, unbelievably generic considering the day and age - you have five different standard attacks, triggered by a direction on the digital pad (or none), a (shitty) special attack which is triggered with A + B, plus a Rage meter, filling which automatically puts you into an exceptionally ugly and generic Rage-mo, which doesn't even allow you to do that much more damage than per usual.

As the cherry on top, the game brings back the two age-old problems of the vintage Marvel Comics action game; hasty level design with two developmental stages, those being copy and paste, and horrible controls. Sure, the guys do what you tell them to do; it's just that they do it fractions of seconds later. It took me half an hour to get past Juggernaut - the second boss - due to the bad controls and those only. There are no right reasons for this game's occasional difficulty.

On to the DS version of the game. I already snuck a peek of the aggregates up at GameRankings, and it turns out the DS version was beaten up even worse than the Game Boy Advance version. Well, ain't that promising. Luckily I have to go to work a long-ass, aggravating shift now.

+ Good looking cutscenes
+ Good story and cast of playable characters...

- ...Only one of practical use, though
- Generic gameplay
- Generic level design
- Delayed controls

< 5.0 >

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