X-Men: Destiny Review

By Blair Nokes on October 15, 2011

In the last generation of gaming, when the Gamecube was in its prime, a company known as Silicon Knights worked on two of the greatest titles on the platform. The first was a psychologically twisted horror title known as Eternal Darkness. The second was an ode to one of the greatest gaming franchises of all time; Metal Gear Solid. Their debut title for current gen consoles on the Xbox 360 in 2008, was an action game in development since 1999 "“ Too Human. And now with the release of X-Men: Destiny gamers had high hopes that this would be as memorable as their other titles. It is, but not for the greatest reasons.

The game tells the tale of three individuals, from three unique perspectives. For this review we choose Adrian Luca, a character whose father was the leader of an anti-mutant faction known as the Purifiers until he was killed in battle. Under the care of the Purifiers, Adrian was shaped into a young man who hated mutants and everything they represented.

Queue the opening intro, where a peace rally is being held in the memory of the late Charles Xavier. For reasons unexplained (at the time), Magneto crashes the party. He seems to want to break any ties or hopes of future peace between mutants and humans, but all is not as it seems. It is at this point where the chosen hero discovers they have hidden powers. It is up to the player to choose which of the three given powers they want to learn. Players could have the ability to project energy, the ability to control one's mass and density to deal heavy melee attacks, or use shadow matter which crafts blades out of thin air. Keeping the theme of choice at your disposal, at certain points in the game it will give the option of learning one or two moves.

Not only that, but throughout the course of the story, you can inevitably choose to fight alongside Magneto with the Brotherhood of Mutants, or with Cyclops and the X-Men.

Overall, the story was decently done with multiple endings depending on the side you choose, but the endings seem a tad rushed. It took all of 5-6 hours to beat achieve almost everything the game has to offer and one of the biggest gripes is that out of all the enemies they could have used from the X-Men lore as bosses, they chose 3 people they created for the game (who all donned similar mech-suits). And to make matters worse they all have a near-identical formulae to beat. That is not to say you don't fight heroes and villains from the comics; you do, and they are peppered throughout the game, but why did they need to make new ones that were so generic?

To the game's credit, it does sport a meaty cast of mutants ranging from popular characters like Wolverine, Colossus, Gambit, Nightcrawler and Juggernaut, and even gives the spotlight to less-known mutants like Canada's Northstar, Forge, Caliban, and Surge. But the aforementioned bosses are placed in key locations at the beginning, middle and end - clearly the game's final exams that put your abilities to the test as you've progressed throughout the game. It feels that they could have done so much more with such a vast universe at their disposal, especially considering that the 'true' main boss was in fact a character from the comics. It just seems like wasted potential for a deeper look at a comic series spanning decades.The gameplay, however, is simple and addictive. It is primarily a traditional beat 'em up with evolutionary combat. It's not as deep as some other offerings on the market, but it's still decent. There are also brief, and very, very, very light platforming mechanics.

It's easy to control, doesn't take long to learn when to dodge at appropriate times or and when to mix your light and heavy attacks for some satisfying ending attacks, making the learning curve pretty accessible to any gamer. As a plus Silicon Knights offers a great RPG-lite mechanic, where you can choose 3 unique "X-genes". There are Offensive, Defensive and Utility powers associated to different familiar heroes and villains of the X-Men universe. On top of that, you can also give your player a costume with colour themes relating to said X-Men characters. But here's the real treat: when you, for instance, use Wolverine's 3 X-genes and his suit, you can go into something called "X-mode" which unleashes the full potential of those abilities and unlocks the suit's power. For Wolverine, your healing powers are greatly increased.

The ideas feel fresh, but a big problem with the combat system is the enemies themselves. They are not very diverse, look bland and are near-identical with the exception of a few heavier opponents, which make the combat a little repetitive over the course of the campaign. It doesn't help that enemies literally spawn from portals, or in some odd cases, pop into existence on random spots in the level. It's the design equivalent to covering your city in fog to save time actually building a city to look at. It might seem like a petty complaint, and countless games have used it in the past, but that doesn't mean it should be condoned.

Sadly, the game's package takes a bit of a nose dive when it comes to the graphical and technical side of things. The framerate is consistently sporadic, and for seemingly no reason. This is not a graphical powerhouse, so there really isn't a reason for it to drop well below 30 frames per second. It felt that Silicon Knights could have put in a little more time into developing and optimizing the game. Not only that, but the game is fairly linear, with a few areas that branch off for challenges you can search for. It's a minimalistic design that shouldn't chug the game speed. The environments themselves are fairly bland with some rough texture work and character models. The sound cut offs at certain points, and in one run of the final boss, there was no audio at all. This was truly disappointing, seeing as how Silicon Knights' previous entries were visually astounding and incredibly polished, especially in the case of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

Final Thoughts

X-Men: Destiny is a mixed bag. On the one hand there's a lot of fun to be had in a game that's fairly simple. The combat is easy to master, and it's easy to get hooked on the completionist goal of collecting all the powers and suits to mix and match to your heart's content. And for completionists, once again this is a 5-6 hour game to fully complete. Not very demanding, so in the very least, it is worth a play for that aspect alone should you be that type of player. Even though the game certainly is pleasing it's impossible to ignore the performance issues. Had this been worked on for a little while longer there's no doubt that Silicon Knights could have delivered the experience they had hinted Destiny would be from the very beginning. I sincerely hope they try again, because Destiny is extremely close to being the X-Men game that fans have dreamt about for so long. It just needed more time to sand the rough edges.

Combat's easy and accessible
X-Gene and Suits add a level of strategy
Wolverine, bub
Framerate inconsistencies
Repetitive bosses
Bland environments
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