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The Five Reasons to Get Excited About X-Men Legends
(...and the five reasons to avoid it like the plague)

Written By:  J. Michael Neal

If you haven’t heard, X-Men Legends is the action-adventure, team based, tactical role-playing game, spanning 40 years of X-Men history, set for a late 2003 release. Yeah, it may sound a little strange at first, but think about it for a while and you will come to realize that this may very well be the greatest game idea ever! You and three other mutants, chosen from 20 selectable characters that include everyone from Gambit to Marrow, engaging in tactical, team based, real time combat within fully destroyable environments, all the while gaining levels to strengthen your mutant abilities. Does that not sound like an awesome idea? Well, that’s because it is! But, the execution could be all wrong and end up making this one of the most disappointing wastes of a good idea since Wild 9s. Here are the five reasons why it just might rock as hard as it sounds…

5) The X-Men are due a good game – The license is definitely due a good game. It’s been a while since Konami blessed the world with their classic arcade beat-um-up, which had the distinction of being the first, and last, really good X-Men game. Since then, the countless X-Men series have been a freakin’ money-tree for Marvel, going on to become one of, if not the, most successful comics ever made. It’s had two good movies; it’s had one incredible animated series, why shouldn’t it have an equally good game? Hasn’t it earned that right yet? I think it has, and I think it’s entirely possible that this will be it.

4) Learn from the past – Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance ruled. If you haven’t tried the game yet, do yourself a favor and pick a copy up. It’s gone Greatest Hits now and can be bought bone-cheap. In BG:DA, X-Men Legend’s developers have everything they need to see what makes a game of this genre successful. Do: have a solid multiplayer game (check: X-Men Legends will be two-player). Do: make the game highly replayable (check: tasty unlockable characters are nearly guaranteed in this game). Do: have elven barmaids with really bouncy breasts… ok, this wasn’t necessarily one of Dark Alliance’s selling points, but it sure as heck can be X-Men Legend’s. I mean, come on! White Witch, Psylock, Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, and Dead or Alive physics would sell like hot cakes!

3) Key ingredient in the “War on Terror” – President Bush has said time and time again that before we can whip out terror in the world we need to have more really good superhero games. If you don’t believe me, ask the man yourself. A kick-ass X-Men game would surely be a step in the right direction!

2) Raven Software is doing it – Console gamers might not know Raven too well, but the company is riding high off the critical and commercial success of Jedi Outcast: Jedi Knight II, as well as the brutal Solider of Fortune II: Double Helix. Jedi Outcast managed to break the Star Wars Games Usually Suck (or SWGUS) curse by kicking more ass than the Sergeant General recommends, which means it is not out of Raven’s grasp to do the same for the Superhero Games Usually Suck curse.

1) Freedom Force worked  – Again, maybe not that well known to console gamers (hell, not even all that well known to PC gamers) Freedom Force is an incredibly under appreciated masterpiece that did almost the same exact thing that X-Men Legends plans on doing, and did it very, very, very well. Squad based tactical combat, fully destroyable environments, experience points, super powers, the whole nine yards. Plus, it did it all without a license as phenomenal as the X-Men.

So, you are taking an idea that has already been successfully pulled-off, giving it to a company that has already broken one longstanding gaming curse, and giving it to a license that is guaranteed to grab people’s attentions… how could it go wrong? Here’s how…

5) Screenshots not looking so hot – Even I have to admit, the screenshots do not look appealing. A graphics engine that poor, in this day and age, is not a good sign.

4) Still a superhero game – Although it is entirely possible to break the curse, the truth is the odds still aren’t in the game’s favor. Activision’s own X2: Wolverine’s Revenge looked cool; so did Batman: Dark Tomorrow, and Superman: Shadow of Apokolips, and the last, like, seven superhero games as well, and all those turned out just as crappy as everyone feared, and secretly suspected. It is still possible that X-Men Legends will just be another name on that list.

3) Key ingredient in the “War on Terror” – The terrorists will not sit back and let this game ruin their plans. They know what will happen if more really good superhero games are released. Why do you think Saddam hoarded all those PS2s, huh? He wasn’t planning some big, evil LAN party you know. He was hoping the more machines he bought, the less there would be for consumers to buy, and the less machines consumers would have, the less likely really good superhero games would be made. So they will, no doubt, impede this game every step of the way. They will probably start by sending some sort of giant, flaming-panda throwing, attack robot with laser beam eyes and an exploding napalm-filled head to Raven’s studio or something. Or prank call them all night using stolen long-distance phone cards. Whichever their budget can afford.

2) Inexperience – This will not only be Raven’s first console game, but first RPG. Does that mean they will be learning the PS2 and Xbox hardware as they go, as well as how to make a good RPG? Hopefully not…

1) Almost too ambitious – The game sounds too good to be true. The idea is just too great. That makes it difficult to live up to the expectations everyone, particularly comic fans, will have for it. This will inevitably cause it to disappoint, even if it is a good game. With something like this, “good” won’t be good enough for people, as they expect greatness from it, and anything less than a five star title will probably leave gamers feeling a wee bit shortchanged.

Posted: 7-6-03
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