I love Iceman. I love the X-Men too. I grew up watching the old X-Men cartoon on Saturday mornings. I’m not exactly sure why I latched onto Iceman but I’ve always loved the color blue and the aspects of air and water. His powers have always just seemed the coolest.1 Walls of ice, ice boarding, freezing people. Even my main City of Heroes character is very closely modeled after Iceman.
Another thing I love is video game RPGs.2 The stories tend to be engrossing, heroic epics. As the player, you mold the character and parts of the story as you see fit. Taking the protagonist from humble beginnings to savior of the world. Meeting interesting characters and aiding others along the way.
And it’s because of my love of X-Men and RPGs that I hate to admit that this game’s release date snuck up on me and I missed it completely. It wasn’t until the day after release when Kotaku linked to a video of the opening cinematic that I realized the game was out on the shelves. After sharing the video with two friends, I pushed for a trip to Walmart to pick up a copy of the game.3
Since this is my first review of a game here, I’ll be nice and give a spoiler warning. If you want just want the final judgment skip to the In The End section.
- There were three possible protagonists: a Japanese girl, an All-American football player, and the son of a mutant hater.
- There were three power sets/archetypes: a fast melee-focused dark set (à la Psylocke but dark instead of psychic), a heavy hitting set (Colossus/Thing style) and a blaster set (Iceman/Cyclops/Havoc)4
- You could choose to help the X-men or the Brotherhood.
- There was bound to be a lot of fan service.
- You could gain some of the background character’s powers (Hello there, Iceman).
Everything I knew about this game was setting up high expectations. I get to be a new mutant, grow up through the course of the game, fight bad guys and join the X-Men. Now, I’ve had my share of disappointments before so I was careful to temper my expectations. But if they were really sticking to these principles, there’s no way they could go wrong. Or so I thought.
The game starts off very well. The opening cinematic sets the stage for the conflict and briefly introduces the various possible protagonists. After selecting your character another short cinematic starts giving a slightly longer intro to your character. A third cinematic wraps up the stage setting. You select your power set and take control of your character.
One of the first things I noticed was the art direction, the graphics were average at best but the style oozed comic book. Shortly after taking control of your character you’re introduced to Quicksilver. He zooms around knocking out some of the antagonists and then stops in front of you. As he’s stopping, his name in a giant comic book style font zooms in after him. It was this style that made it easier to ignore the graphic deficiencies.5
The gameplay starts to get repetitive not long after the start. Sure the animations flow nicely but there’s no way to cancel out any of the moves. So I found myself dying quite often because I hit an attack button too rapidly and slid into a combo animation.
As you progress through the game you collect DNA strands and outfits from other mutants. Each of the DNA strands have a small secondary ability that boosts your character. When you equip all three strands plus the matching outfit, you gain an extra “powered” mode in theme with the borrowed genes. It was a nice bonus to be able to use some Iceman powers in addition to my dark matter powers.
They brought out a lot of characters for the game6. Unfortunately, your interaction with them is very short. They provide very little information about what events directly led to the story in the game. Notably missing from the cast were Professor X, Rogue, Beast and Jean Grey.7 Professor X’s absence is explained but the others are brushed off as dead or missing.
I was hoping to find a post-Apocalypse San Francisco an interesting setting. I spent a week in San Francisco in early August vacationing and sight-seeing. But if you removed the scene where Magneto plays around with the Golden Gate Bridge, this game could have been set in any major city in America.
In The End
For me, a well-written, long story will allow me to overlook other problems in the game. Unfortunately for X-Men: Destiny, they failed to deliver. I was able to get about 10 hours of game time before I saw the credits scroll. This was playing the game on the highest difficulty for most parts. I’ll consider future playthroughs with the other characters and powers but I can’t bring myself to do it any time soon.
I’d recommend picking this game up in the bargain bin (where it’s surely to show up before long) if you enjoy the X-Men universe. But don’t get your hopes up too high because the game will be a disappointment.
- It doesn’t hurt that he’s an Omega-level mutant either. ↩
- I like table top RPGs also. But I get more control over the story pacing in a video game. ↩
- Charles, who loves most things X-Men and Marvel, and Kaitlyn, who managed to only see the worst X-Men movie ever. ↩
- Prior to watching the video included in the Kotaku post, I had believed that these powers were inherently tied to a specific protagonist. I was pleasantly surprised to find this untrue. However, I still played Aimi with the dark matter set. ↩
- They really should have given Quicksilver’s hair a few more passes. ↩
- Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto, Iceman, Gambit, Quicksilver, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Juggernaut, Wolverine, Toad, Colossus, Pyro and many lesser known characters. ↩
- Charles would kill me if I failed to mention Beast. But Storm and Angel were also important no shows. ↩