Is it Bad When the Best Part of a Game is its Credits?
As great as the voice actors are, the graphics don’t do them any favors. The characters don’t move their mouths in sync with lines and sometimes they seem to just stare into the ether with the blankest of expressions. I was stunned at how many things in the game are 2D and lack any sort of texture and seeing giant, loopy cords be completely flat was particularly jarring. Silicon Knights paid so much attention to getting every little detail on the characters that they completely neglected the environment. The framerate doesn’t just drop in parts but it absolutely craters into a mess. Nothing is really interactive (sure you can break a storage container or knock over a box or something) and for some reason it takes an act of Congress (and we all know how much of a hassle those are) to rip down a propaganda poster. Alright, sorry, I was being a bit hyperbolic, but there are some posters in the game that took three or four jumps and repeated attempts to hit them to finally come down. The posters are a collectable and there are some other items to pick up along the way but only the truly dedicated will go after them all (I found the majority of them by just following the linear path and keeping my eyes peeled).
Usually, I can look past lackluster environments if the gameplay is solid. Destiny’s gameplay isn’t terrible but it is the very definition of mediocre. Square and triangle will be your go-to buttons and you’re going to go from one area to the next facing waves of enemies. The 2D pop-ups that show how many enemies you have to defeat were neat the first time I saw them, but when they show up every single time and stay in the area until you take down a handful of guys they wear out their welcome. Really though, it’s just mindless button mashing and there’s little depth outside of the boss fights, which will require some timely blocking. The powers you can use are quite neat and as you gain more skills and genes your character can be a customized tank that can take on just about anything. I liked being able to customize my character to have the force of Juggernaut with the defensive capabilities of Iceman and in combination with some of the later shadow powers I legitimately felt like a superhero and that my character’s powers had drastically grown.
I touched on the boss fights earlier and while some of them are awesome in scale and just fun to boot, there are going to be a lot of camera issues. One boss fight in particular puts you in half of a room and you’re tasked with trying to dodge fists that take up half of the area. Another one, late in the game, requires a climbing section that is an exercise in frustration. It also doesn’t help that climbing and transitioning on walls in general is wonky, with the characters looking discombobulated and just magnetically drawn to the next platform. Some climbing sections will require transitioning through an electric puzzle and I’ve yet to figure out a foolproof way to handle these. Even when I’m on a “safe” part my character will still get shocked into oblivion, so usually I just ran through them as quickly as possible, hoping my health held out. Throughout the campaign you’ll find challenge areas, which can be completed to gain genes, suits, and just about everything else. Most of these devolve into “beat x number of enemies in x amount of time” and struck me as more of a Dynasty Warriors challenge than something you’d see in the X-Men universe. Most of them aren’t that difficult, though they can get hectic at times, and generally its best to take care of one if you stumble across it.
X-Men Destiny looks and plays like a game that wasn’t finished. There are so many things that could have been fixed with some simple polish or tweaking. The gameplay would have worked well with co-op and I wish that could have been implemented to add some depth. Working together with the friendly AI is frustrating, because half of the time it is seemingly brain dead. One challenge mission late in the game required me to restart four times just so my ally would walk around the fence instead of into it. Normally I would chalk this up as a dumb AI problem but it doesn’t help that you have to sit through a good 10-15 second load screen each time and then another loading screen when you restart. After the campaign is done, and it can take you anywhere from five to eight hours depending on skill and difficulty there is really little reason to go back. Sure, if you’re interested to see how each of the characters progresses and each power ends up there’s that but as a single player game it really doesn’t have any staying power. I would say the game was disappointing but even at E3 our own Sam Bishop said the game was ”definitely a little rough”. Fans of the series may be able to salvage some enjoyment but wait for it to hit a more favorable price point, everyone else steer clear.