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With comics, movies, video games, action figures and even a cartoon series behind them, it's hard not to know who the X-Men are. In the comics the story following the mutants that make up the X-Men and their friends is more twisted and shares more surprising turns than a daytime soap opera. For a good while, however, these stories were only contained in those little graphic novels, but as comic books, video games and other forms of media become more and more popular the X-Men and others have to stay true to their roots while simultaneously trying to be mainstream enough for everyone to enjoy. This is often a daunting task. We've all seen the horrid movies made from the Mario Bros., Street Fighter, The Fantastic Four, and we've witnessed numerous superheroes and movie stars try to make the transition to video games with little or no luck at all. This is generally tougher with comics like the X-Men, as they're not as widely enjoyed as movies, and more often than not have more plot and back story for each character than you can shake a stick at. That's not to mention the horde of fans said comic probably has, and comic book fans are the toughest to please of them all. So, does X-Men Legends satisfy both the mainstream consumer looking for a good brawl and the jaded comic book fan at the same time? We'll see.

For the uninformed let's start with a bit about the X-Men. In the games' universe Mother Nature plays a little joke on us all by gifting some folks with an extra gene. This gene awakens around puberty and gifts the lucky (or unlucky, depending on the person) teenager with strange mutant powers. It all happens suddenly one day; little Timmy is sitting in the cafeteria and the next thing you know flames shoot out of his ears every time he sneezes. Sometimes a good, upstanding person is granted these abilities and sometimes it's the scum of the earth that inherits the ability to toss cars forty feet. Humans are always frightened of what they can't understand and from the viewpoint of those that aren't "gifted" all mutants are freaks. Prejudice and hate fills the hearts of many humans, but it also fills just as many hearts of hateful mutants. Conflict continuously erupts between rogue mutants and human protestors. Luckily there are safe havens for mutants, one such place being Professor Charles Xavier's mansion, an academy of sorts for mutants. It's a place where they can hone their mutant powers and get a good education while being protected from anti-mutant protestors. Here is also where the X-Men reside; a team of gifted mutants who use their powers to protect human lives and spread understanding and peace between mutants and humans everywhere. The X-Men battle other mutants and a whole host of villains in their fight to protect innocent people. Thankfully this translates well into an action game.

To start, Legends is visually appealing - from a distance. The actual stages aren't so bad, as they usually give you plenty of room to brawl and they're all varied and unique; you'll travel from the streets of New York city to a snowy military base, a nuclear power plant and even further. The backgrounds are visually appealing, but it's the character models that will make you wince. Legends uses cell-shaded characters which, while good looking from a distance, are a travesty when you get up close and personal. You won't have time for any heart-to-heart talks when you're roaming the streets pummelling the bad guys, but the cut scenes done with the in-game engine are laughable. Thankfully the game makes up for poor character models with its wonderful sound; the voice work being the most notable aspect here. While you may get tired of the generic sound clips spouted by random enemies the main characters and villains of the series are beautifully done. Wolverine sounds just about as badass as he could possibly get, firing off one-liners like "Yer lucky yer still breathin'" after dishing out a sufficient smack-down and Rogue captures both charisma and attitude with lines such as "Awww! I'll bet that hurt!

X Men Legends

 

X Men Legends

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Xbox
Category: n/a
 
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With comics, movies, video games, action figures and even a cartoon series behind them, it's hard not to know who the X-Men are. In the comics the story following the mutants that make up the X-Men and their friends is more twisted and shares more surprising turns than a daytime soap opera. For a good while, however, these stories were only contained in those little graphic novels, but as comic books, video games and other forms of media become more and more popular the X-Men and others have to stay true to their roots while simultaneously trying to be mainstream enough for everyone to enjoy. This is often a daunting task. We've all seen the horrid movies made from the Mario Bros., Street Fighter, The Fantastic Four, and we've witnessed numerous superheroes and movie stars try to make the transition to video games with little or no luck at all. This is generally tougher with comics like the X-Men, as they're not as widely enjoyed as movies, and more often than not have more plot and back story for each character than you can shake a stick at. That's not to mention the horde of fans said comic probably has, and comic book fans are the toughest to please of them all. So, does X-Men Legends satisfy both the mainstream consumer looking for a good brawl and the jaded comic book fan at the same time? We'll see. For the uninformed let's start with a bit about the X-Men. In the games' universe Mother Nature plays a little joke on us all by gifting some folks with an extra gene. This gene awakens around puberty and gifts the lucky (or unlucky, depending on the person) teenager with strange mutant powers. It all happens suddenly one day; little Timmy is sitting in the cafeteria and the next thing you know flames shoot out of his ears every time he sneezes. Sometimes a good, upstanding person is granted these abilities and sometimes it's the scum of the earth that inherits the ability to toss cars forty feet. Humans are always frightened of what they can't understand and from the viewpoint of those that aren't "gifted" all mutants are freaks. Prejudice and hate fills the hearts of many humans, but it also fills just as many hearts of hateful mutants. Conflict continuously erupts between rogue mutants and human protestors. Luckily there are safe havens for mutants, one such place being Professor Charles Xavier's mansion, an academy of sorts for mutants. It's a place where they can hone their mutant powers and get a good education while being protected from anti-mutant protestors. Here is also where the X-Men reside; a team of gifted mutants who use their powers to protect human lives and spread understanding and peace between mutants and humans everywhere. The X-Men battle other mutants and a whole host of villains in their fight to protect innocent people. Thankfully this translates well into an action game. To start, Legends is visually appealing - from a distance. The actual stages aren't so bad, as they usually give you plenty of room to brawl and they're all varied and unique; you'll travel from the streets of New York city to a snowy military base, a nuclear power plant and even further. The backgrounds are visually appealing, but it's the character models that will make you wince. Legends uses cell-shaded characters which, while good looking from a distance, are a travesty when you get up close and personal. You won't have time for any heart-to-heart talks when you're roaming the streets pummelling the bad guys, but the cut scenes done with the in-game engine are laughable. Thankfully the game makes up for poor character models with its wonderful sound; the voice work being the most notable aspect here. While you may get tired of the generic sound clips spouted by random enemies the main characters and villains of the series are beautifully done. Wolverine sounds just about as badass as he could possibly get, firing off one-liners like "Yer lucky yer still breathin'" after dishing out a sufficient smack-down and Rogue captures both charisma and attitude with lines such as "Awww! I'll bet that hurt!” Patrick Stewart blesses us with his voice talent as Professor Charles Xavier and, let's face it; there's no better person for the role. For a hack n' slash game in the vein of Baldur’s Gate the game has a surprising amount of depth. You aren't confined to just simply pounding an attack button and occasionally tossing out some mutant death beam of justice. Legends features some simple but varied combos that can be created with use of both a "light attack" and a "heavy attack" button. It's a simple but effective combo system that helps keep things amusing. Objects around the screen (trust me, there are plenty) can be hefted and tossed around or broken on someone's skull. Depending on the character you'll be able to lift heavier and heavier objects and cause more destruction to the environment. Legends takes a page from Fable in that you have to hold down the R trigger in order to bring up your mutant powers. Again, this is simple and easy, as all the available characters have a good variety of powers and you'll be able to execute them quickly. When there is more than one character available on your team (most of the time you'll have a full squad of four) switching is as easy as tapping a button on the d-pad. What I'm most thankful for, however, has got to be the fully adjustable camera. It's controllable with the right thumb stick and you can zoom in the view to get up close, or pull it out all the way so you're fighting at nearly a top-down view. While the sound, graphics and the control scheme are all fine and dandy it's the gameplay in Legends that has a tendency to disappoint. The gameplay here is, to put it plainly, a mixed bag. While the brawls are quite entertaining and destructible environments only sweeten the deal the AI is rather sketchy. Your partners are prone to getting lost, doing circles mindlessly in front of doorways and, worst of all, walking right over the edge of cliffs. On more than one occasion my fellow X-Lemmings have ventured straight off a cliff and into a bottomless pit, both short handing my squad and costing me about eight-hundred smackers to have him or her revived. Speaking of bridges and the like, you'll often need a specific sort of X-Man to use his or her powers to create a bridge, weld something (don't ask), or move objects. This means I really can't pick a team of my choosing because I'll more than likely come across a puzzle that requires a power I don't have, and therefore I'll be forced to hoof it back to the last save point to swap team members. Granted, multiple X-Men share the same puzzle-solving powers (Iceman, Magma and Jean Grey can all make bridges, for instance) it's still a little too limiting. In any case the combat is fun and there's a lot to do and see in the X-Universe. You can choose to spend a little time in the Danger Room (a sort of training room for the X-Men) and complete a small variety of tests to earn extra EXP and/or items. You can also re-live classic X-Men adventures with specific characters for greater rewards. The Mansion itself holds a few nice things to discover such as concept art, a trivia game, and comic books that, when unlocked, give bonuses to specific characters. One thing you won't have to worry about is using each character evenly; all of your fighters gain experience with each enemy killed, so if you need a specific character for a puzzle you needn't worry about him or her getting killed in one or two hits. When a character levels up you can improve that person's stats like in any other RPG, distributing points towards base statistics like attack strength and the amount of health he or she has, or you can put them towards improving and unlocking new mutant powers and abilities. Teamwork is essential in Legends, and by combining attacks and powers you'll earn greater rewards. This is quite difficult to do with the loopy AI but with a friend (or three) it's quite easy and the game becomes a lot more fun. Legends is, overall, a good game. It shows a lot of promise and I can only hope that a sequel is coming which will fix the few flaws found in this one. It's definitely better than your average hack n' slash game but the wonky AI will probably frustrate you to no end. Legends provides mainstream accessibility and adds little touches, special items, and other unlockables that will satisfy true fans of the comics. The key to X-Men Legends is teamwork, so grab some friends and spread peace and understanding by throwing the nearest villain through a wall.






 
 

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