X-Men Legends

Guest Reviewers - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Xbox (Microsoft)
Produced by: Activision/Raven
Price Range: $31-40
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Patches / Upgrades: None
System Requirements: None

Reviewed By: Griffin aka “Warrior King”
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Genre: RPG
Christian Rating: 3 of 5 (average)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 3 of 5 (mild)


X-Men Legends.  Illustration copyrighted

X-Men Legends is based on the 1963 comic book, “The Uncanny X- Men.” A tale about a group of mutants led by Professor Charles Xavier, the world's most powerful mutant with mental abilities, learning how to deal with society's hatred toward them. The X-Men compose the following members with their codenames: Storm, Jean Gray (the only one who doesn't go by a codename, go figure), Cyclops, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Colossus, and Iceman (just to name a few). Xavier formed the X-Men to fight threats to mankind, to teach the X-Men how to control their powers for good, and to one day hopefully live peacefully side by side with society.

Plot and Gameplay: 4.5 out of 5.0

X-Men Legends (XML) was masterfully crafted by a group of former Marvel comic writers called 'Man of Action.' The story centers around Alison Crestmere who possesses the mutant ability to control lava even changing her human form to a flaming version of herself. Hence, she earns the name of 'Magma'.

Magma is thrusted into the limelight after the grotesque, obese mutant called the Blob of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (the antagonist mutant team who is lead by the immensely powerful Magneto) kidnap Magma. Why would Magneto need this girl? Immediately, the player is controlling Wolverine hot on the trail of the Blob and to find out why Magneto desires this particular mutant.

XML is a fan boy's dream comes true as you finally get to control the X-Men in a Role Playing Game (RPG) fashion instead of the individual most gamers are used to playing them.

The game requires a player to go through various linear missions in order to solve Magneto's plot from the Artic to the Sewers (yes, those who are use to RPG know that no RPG would be complete without a trip to sewers, right? Thanks, JadesFire.). There are times where an X-Man will go off on a solo mission. So the freedom is not there to explore without limitations compared to RPG's like the Final Fantasy Series or Morrow wind.

XML strategically tucks away puzzle elements in the game forcing the player to make use of a X-Man's powers needed to continue on their quest. Unfortunately, the developers hold players by the hand displaying a large 'X' over areas that can be affected by a character's powers. If a player has the wrong X-Man, backtracking is allowed and Xtraction points can be used to change team members.

Graphics/Visual Presentation: 4.25 out of 5.0

Activision, during the earlier stages of XML, had made a smart move to leave the traditional bit images for the X-Men for cell shading technology. This brilliant move makes the player feel as if they are turning the pages of a virtual comic book. Each character is detailed just enough to tell them apart. Enemies and bosses are not very impressionable in appearance (not on par as DOOM 3) yet well done over all. The lighting effects are good quality when a player unleashes Cyclops' eye beam or Jean Grey's Psychic Scream. The environments are destructible which makes interesting eye candy when a player utilizes an X-Man's power on walls, generators, chairs, etc. The developers were cautious to include some detail (such as Blob's massive footprints in the street when Wolverine is on his trail) yet not to the point of overkill. There are some clipping issues (graphics that melt into another by mistake) yet these are easily overlooked. The cell shading cut scenes are slightly embarrassing (The X-Men look like puppets in this environment. Think “Thunderbirds” from the old television show series). Fortunately, the developers redeem themselves by adding more detailed cut scenes that will astound you in their cinematic feel.

Sound Quality: 4.75 out of 5.0

XML's biggest strength is the voice acting for the X-Men (the only exception is Cyclops whose dialogue in battle sounds like a bratty, smart aleck teenager than the rugged leader of the X-Men). Fans of the series will get goose bumps as Patrick Stewart breathes life into Professor Xavier's lines and the witty comments of Wolverine will cause chuckles for sure. Foley artists did a superb job in producing punching and kick sounds, explosions, and sounds for the X-Men's powers. While the music is not powerful orchestral pieces (personally, this would have made the gaming experience much more rousing), sleepy music selections are sadly the norm. The music can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Music rushes in when enemies are near (a great way to warn the player of impeding danger) and can be soft music that loops over and over with no direction.

Violence: 4.75 out of 5.0

A RPG would be hard to do without conflict and battle and XML does not pander to over the top violence crowd.

[SPOILER AHEAD]

The only blood visible in the game is when the X-Men infiltrate a military base and discover that General Kincaid is experimenting with humans and Sentinels (the blood is on the surgery floors). X-Men and enemies beat each other without any visual consequences even when Wolverine uses his claws on a foe. Powers as well do not cause any visual damage to ally or foe alike.

Language: 4.25 out of 5.0

Unfortunately, there are some parts that I cited as concern for me as a Christian. Nightcrawler, in the comics and in the game, professes to be a believer in God. He comments when he levels up: “My God, I am invincible!” or “I can beat the devil himself.” These comments bothered me in light of such Scripture as Exodus 20:7 (“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain”) and Proverbs 16:18 (“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”). Cyclops, surprisingly, tells his brother Havok to 'go to hell.'

Sexual Content: 4.75 out of 5.0

Psylocke, an X-Man, dresses in tight leather pants that reveal the suggestive outline of a thong when she fights. There is an option to change her costume to a more conservative one.

Spiritual Content: 4.50 out of 5.0

Magneto's power hunger makes him think that all mutants are like gods. Magneto, in thirst for revenge against humans, created his own line from Genesis and the creation story by stating that: 'on the eight day, I looked down on creation and said, 'Let there be darkness.'” Nightcrawler, unashamedly, mentions God in a positive light in regards to his faith.

[SPOILER AHEAD]

X-Men also have to go to the Astral Plane to save Professor Xavier whose mind and assumedly soul is trapped in this dimension. This can be looked as touching the New Age or Eastern philosophies.

Value: 4.0 out of 5.0

As a RPG, XML soars in the action, gameplay, and storytelling departments. When a player finishes the game though, XML crashes and burns on replay value. Once a player has completed the game, there is not much left to do. A player cannot go back with high level up X-Men to play the game a second time around (I peaked my team between levels 35-37). The Danger Room offers unlocked characters as well as multiplayer or player vs. player matches. A player can view all concept art, cinematic, and load screens. Other than the Danger Room, the excitement level wanes rather quickly.

Christian Rating: 4.25 out of 5.0
Positive: The X-Men truly teaches about teamwork and how each member cares about each other. As a player goes through the storyline, a true sense of unity is felt as the story unfolds about each X-Man's life and what they struggle with. Sacrifice and harmony is seen through their actions, a far cry from most games on the market today.

Negative: X-Men's theme of evolution is present as an explanation for their powers as a result of man getting better over time. However, the Bible is contrary to these beliefs. As a Christian, true power only comes from God Almighty (Ps. 62:11) and without Him; we are nothing (John 15:5). God alone is the Creator of mankind and any other 'power' outside of Him is definitively questionable (Ec. 12:1). The Astral Plane is the realm where only psychics can go in the X-Men Universe. This can be likening to the spirit realm where even Saul tried to contact the dead by the witch of Endor (1 Sam. 28).

Overall Outlook/Score: 4.50 out of 5.0

X-Men Legends, although not a perfect RPG, is a quantum leap in the right direction for the franchise. The premise of teamwork, sacrifice, and unity are great pillars holding the story together as well as good vs. evil. This premise is a great reminder of the need to be selfless in this day and age. Christian parents would be wise to remind their children about the murky view of evolution from the prism of creationism, where true power comes from, and the 'Astral Plane' in view of Scriptures. After the agonizing shoddiness of Activision's failed “X-Men: Next Dimension” (a fighting game), X-Men Legends gives a much needed jolt to the possible dying hopes of fans desiring a solid X-Men game. This is a game I could honestly recommend for one's library without shame.

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Year of Release — 2004

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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