X-Men Destiny

Is it Bad When the Best Part of a Game is its Credits?

X-Men Destiny tried our patience and sanity. It also showed us that Nolan North can do anything.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: October 15, 2011
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Ugh.

That about sums up my experience with X-Men Destiny. I thought of many different ways to open this review but this is what I settled on. Sue me; I phoned it in and couldn’t come up with an inspired, witty introduction. Then again, even I didn’t phone things in as badly as Silicon Knights did with this game. Even when I first booted up the game things took a turn towards Terrible Town. There’s some weird installation that requires the game to copy 3000+ files or something and I’ve never seen a game use that sort of installation. Granted it doesn’t take long and over two-thirds of the files are in the last 90% (trying to figure out the math behind it blew my mind) but upon reaching the menu I almost wished that things took closer to ten hours than ten minutes. I was met with one of the most horrific looking faces I have seen in a video game (I would later learn this monstrosity was a playable character, Grant Alexander) and it was around here that I knew that I’d be in trouble.


After cycling through the three playable characters (Grant, Aimi Yoshida, and Adrian Luca) I ultimately settled on Adrian. His story seemed the most inspired, with his father being an anti-mutant extremist who was killed in a battle. His father actually associated with the villainous group of the game, the Purifiers, and Adrian was taught to hate all mutants and take revenge for his father’s death. In case you’re a bit lost, the game starts in San Francisco after the passing of Professor X. After a peace rally turns into a bloodbath (which is initially placed on the shoulders of Magneto) the X-Men come in to try and clear things up. Whichever character you choose is in the middle of it all and that’s when you also choose which path of powers you’ll go down. I ended up going with the shadow powers (the other choices can manipulate your character’s body mass and give them a rocky exterior or shoot a whole lot of energy beams) as they seemed to fit Adrian’s dynamic well (it also doesn’t hurt that it’s what Activision features him using). As you continue the adventure and unravel the mystery you’re also given choices that will lean you towards the X-Men or Brotherhood depending on what your actions or who you side with.

Ultimately, the choices are of little consequence. When you’re given the choice of siding with Cyclops or Magneto you can go in the opposite direction with no penalty. For a game that touts the importance of picking a side pretty much the only thing that changes are lines of dialogue and who says them. Each character has some extra details that are used as an attempt to give the characters more a personality but most of these also fall flat. To use Adrian as an example, he constantly has an internal conflict with his father’s voice condemning nearly everything he does. Instead of these coming off as a personal struggle it hit me as another video game character that has a whole lot of daddy issues. I’ll be honest, unless I was in a cutscene or there was an actual member of the X-Men or Brotherhood on screen I kept the volume off to avoid listening to the chatter.

That’s not to say everything in the story is bad. The X-Men and Brotherhood are, of course, the stars of the game and fighting alongside (or against) them is actually a lot of fun. I found the boss fights to be satisfying for the most part though the camera constantly works against you in some battles. The story was also well executed and kept me interested, though as I said, the choices I made seem to have little to do with anything the grand scheme. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the player’s character isn’t really needed and that the story could work itself out without without them. Still, I did enjoy seeing some of my childhood heroes interact with one another and the fanboy part of me that grew up with my own kid-friendly pair of Wolverine gloves and put down “Be Gambit” as my dream occupation was quite pleased and satisfied. I should also note that once you realize Nolan North is Cyclops that you can’t un-hear it (he’s also Adrian’s father apparently, I learned something new today). That said, the voice actors were top notch and the All-Star cast really does shine through.
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