X-Men Destiny

[E3 2011] Destiny is in Silicon Knights' Hands

X-Men Destiny, that is, and we take a peek at how the mutant-powered brawler is shaping up.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: June 16, 2011
With a few notable exceptions, the X-Men legacy in video games hasn't been exactly stellar. Yes, there are those rare bright spots (even if one of them was a solo excursion), but by and large the games just never seem to capture the essence of what it's like to be a mutant, which is a crying shame if you ask us.

Enter Silicon Knights and their take on things, which is apparently to just create a trio of new muties to let players slip into the shoes of. While the characters are definitely all-new, there will be plenty of crossover with familiar characters like Wolverine and Mystique as you guide the ultimate path of one of these characters to either side with the Brotherhood of Mutants (nee Evil Mutants) or the X-Men.

Except this probably isn't the X-Men you're used to if you haven't been following the whole X-Men Legacy series being penned by Mike Carey (who, naturally, is also writing the story for the game). For starters, Professor X is dead. Kaput. And in this version of San Francisco torn apart by political strife between mutant lovers and haters (not to mention some major natural disasters), the city has been carved in two. Even on the mutant side, there's plenty of long-standing friction between Magneto's group and the X-Men themselves, and of course it's up to you to guide one of the three new characters toward whatever group you gel most.

Those three include Aimi Yoshida, a transplant from Japan that was smuggled into SF by her parents but feels abandoned because her 15 year-old mind can't quite put together why she was taken out of Japan, Grant Alexander, a former football star from Georgia, and a third character Silicon Knights is staying quiet about (y'know, aside from him showing up in trailers and whatnot). Aimi was the focus of the demo, showing Destiny's interesting handling of the various powers available to these new mutants.

Looking to track down the errant Gambit, who has switched sides to the Brotherhood, Aimi heads into a Chinatown that doesn't look particularly SF-ish. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of people that don't take kindly to Aimi's kind, and plenty of brawls break out. Each of the three characters will be able to pick a power and then build on it, using the familiar light/heavy combat system to rain blows upon enemies, but each of them can be augmented by those mutant powers. Tied to the M Meter, these powers can boost the normal attack strength of light/strong blows by dipping into the Meter (even draining it completely with a finishing strike, though that will leave the mutant with standard attacks until the meter recharges by way of solid combos).

As Aimi fells enemies, she eventually comes across one of the central objects in the Destiny universe: an X-gene payload, which she could give to Gambit and help the Brotherhood or side with Colossus and kick it over to the X-Men. Regardless of her choice (and of course that sets into motion a friendliness with one faction and ire of the other), Aimi can eventually use these genes to imbue herself with the powers of familiar X-Men or Brotherhood characters. Juice up with Wolvie's healing factor or Cyke's optic blast. These powers, along with the standard attacks, can be upgraded with experience barfed out of fallen enemies, so there's plenty of room for experimentation and evolution.

After illustrating the possibilities of siding with one group or another, the demo jumped forward to a multi-stage boss battle. Aimi had to square off against John Sublime, who was all too eager to inject himself with X-genes to give himself a bevy of powers, from Colossus' invulnerability (and hulking size) to Quicksilver's speed and eventually Surge's lightning powers. At each stage of the fight, Sublime's powers would change, he'd grow, and the pattern and tactics would change, culminating in a shocking (har har har) overload that finally felled the baddie.

X-Men Destiny's combat is obviously at the fore here, and we're curious how Silicon Knights are going to pull everything off. The game still has almost half a year of work ahead of it, but the state it was in currently was definitely a little rough. The framerate was rocky and the animations didn't seem to have enough pop or flow to really make the combat feel fluid. Still, with plenty of different power combinations and a heavy focus on player choice, we're curious to see if X-Men Destiny will end up on the small pile of good games or will be the latest to be heaved up onto the pyre of bad ones. Fingers crossed.