|X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse|
|Platforms||GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2, PSP, Windows|
|Genre||Diablo-esque mutant action|
|MtAMinutes to Action||3|
|Buy from Amazon|
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is an action RPG featuring the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants teaming up to fight Apocalypse. Developed by Raven Soft and published by Activision, it's (obviously) the sequel to X-Men Legends.
I have never played X-Men Legends. Why, then, am I playing the sequel? In the first game, you play as the X-Men fighting against the Brotherhood. In the second, you play as the X-Men and the Brotherhood, which seemed much more interesting to me.
How will this game capitalize on this unique license? Will an action RPG be fitting for the X-Men (and Brotherhood)? Did I make a huge mistake in playing the sequel before the first?
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse begins. I choose Normal difficulty. A cutscene starts, a military facility in Greenland, some metal objects start flying around two guards, must be Magneto. Yes, it is Magneto; he destroys the guards' guns and he and two other mutants break into the facility.
01 - Here are the X-Men: Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm. Wait, they're working together! Although Sabertooth and Wolverine aren't too happy to see each other; Wolverine shows Sabertooth his middle claw.
02 - Now Wolverine is chopping up guys, Magneto opens a capsule and Professor X is inside. Magneto says "We both have a grievance with Apocalypse." Nightcrawler bamfs in and then out again with Prof. X.
03 - Gameplay starts, and I'm controlling Magneto. The controls are as follows: A punches (up to a three hit combo), B kicks, Y jumps, X doesn't seem to do anything. I can switch control to any of the four characters on screen at any time with the control pad. Currently they are Magneto, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Storm. Their basic moves are the same, except Cyclops has a combo that ends in a beam attack.
04 - I'm playing as Cyclops for now, and I find a glowing question mark. It gives me instructions on playing the game, and tells me all the stuff I just figured out.
05 - Another question mark tells me I can break open crates and barrels to find things, which I proceed to do. As I enter the next room, a door slams shut, cutting of Mystique and Sabertooth (I didn't realize they were with us in the first place) and some guards enter. It's clobberin' time! (oops, wrong IP).
06 - My partners take care of all the baddies before I can even get to them. I'm not sure if I like that or not. With nothing else to do, I break open all the crates in the room and gather what looks to be money. Then I learn from a question mark that pressing Z will use a health pack. Ooh, here's the good stuff! Holding R will allow me to use mutant powers. A menu pops up showing what power I will use if I press A, B, X, or Y.
07 - More guards; get 'em, boys! Killing enemies earns me experience. There's enough guards this time that I get to actually do some fighting. Storm's striking guys with lightning, I'm blasting them with optic beams... good times.
08 - More guards rush in, surrounded by glowing pink rings. Must be shields or something. Another question mark, this one tells me that sometimes I'll have to use my mutant powers to solve puzzles, which will be conveniently indicated with a blue X (as in X-Men, get it?). The tip also tells me the first one requires someone who can manipulate objects at a distance. It's Magneto of course, he manipulates some metal and gets me through the door. I break apart a bunch of boxes for money (too bad that doesn't work in real life). I also find a band that I can equip on a character.
09 - I found another blue X, some laser tripmines. I use Cyclops to blast them with his optic beam and they blow up. When targeting a blue X, it highlights which power to use, so it's not much like a puzzle at all. It's more like... not a puzzle.
10 - There's a blue meter that goes down with super-power usage and builds back up slowly over time. It also appears that each character only has one power right now: Storm brings down lightning, Magneto lifts metal things, Cyclops shoots an optic beam, and Wolverine does a powerful claw swipe.
11 - The characters call for help when their health is low, you can switch to them and apply a health pack. Wolverine was the one calling this time. It doesn't seem like Wolverine would need a health pack, because his health regenerates. I also find another "band," so I decide to equip my guys.
12 - This system is pretty complex. There's a huge list of unlockable powers for each characters. The bands I found include a belt that improves defense and two pairs of gloves that improve attack. I give Wolverine some gloves. You can also set AI modes, such as if (and when) the computer will apply health packs and how aggressive they should be.
13 - Zappin' dudes with optic beams - how cool is that?
14 - I run into some soldiers of fortune, which seem to be the next level of enemy. Everyone knows soldiers of fortune or more powerful that just plain soldiers, right? And Cyclops levels up! Let's go spend some skill points. I have four points to spend on stats, which include Body, Focus, Strike and Speed. Body raises HP, Focus is EP (Energy Points, I think. It's the super-power meter.) Strike is damage dealt and Speed is my attack and defense (percent chance of hitting or dodging).
15 - Hm, Cyclops' HP is base 25 + 5 per level + 3 per "Body." The others are similar. I go ahead and add one to each, I haven't played long enough to get a feel for what I need yet.
16 - Some automated turrets come out of the floor and fire at me. It seems like Magneto should be able to do something about that, but the hint tells me to find a way around.
17 - I find what looks to be a path around, but it's blocked by a wall. I can see what's on the other side (most of the walls don't allow that). I try jumping over and discover that I can jump on my partners' heads and stand there. Eventually I discover that I can just punch the wall down. *sigh* Then Wolverine levels up, and I destroy a computer for no apparent reason.
18 - I add points to Wolverine's Body both because he tends to take the most damage and because he's supposed to be really tough. I notice that I also got a skill point, which I can use to unlock new powers, or raise the level of my current power.
19 - I had the computer choose a power for me, but then I took it away again because I didn't like it. Then I find that I can give him a passive skill called Regeneration, the purpose of which should be obvious, and I do so post-haste.
20 - Going back to Cyclops, I look to utilized his previously overlooked skill point. His current power is the Optic Beam, but I haven't leveled enough to upgrade it. Instead I give him the passive skill Leadership, which slightly raises some of the stats on all my characters.
21 - I'm playing as Wolverine now, his Feral Slash power is extremely powerful, killing most enemies with one hit. Magneto and Storm level up now.
22 - After distributing their points, I give Magneto the ability to fly, and Storm the Elemental Combat, which adds electricity to her normal attacks.
23 - The method of flying with Magneto is as follows: pressing the jump button again while in the air (basically double-jumping) causes him to hover in the air. He can then move around with impunity. However, while doing so his EP rapidly drains, allowing him only a short time to enjoy his new ability. Holding X brings him back down to earth.
24 - Here's the extraction point, but I decide to finish breaking all the crates before leaving.
25 - A still image of the X-Jet is shown while the game loads. Then Prof. X gives a voiceover about Apocalypse attacking Genosha; Magneto escaped and came to the X-Men for help, as neither team is strong enough to take on Apocalypse alone.
26 - I'm at the central hub, I can talk to characters to access different features such as the store, a "Danger Room" where I can practice, mission assignments, etc. I talk to Beast for awhile, asking him if he's the smartest X-Man, and a long story follows.
27 - I've apparently stumbled upon a side-quest: Beast tells me if I find enough Homing Beacons he can locate a member of the Brotherhood who would be of immense help. I'm guessing another playable character.
28 - Levels and skill points are available from Beast (along with equipment and health packs) for a tidy sum.
29 - I can't use any of my moves (even punches) in this area. Then I find a console which lets me play an X-Men trivia game; each correct answer nets me experience points! Unfortunately I can only answer one correctly.
30 - Prof X told me to talk to Sabertooth but I can't find him.
31 - Here he his. He asks me to go find Blink, who is in the Dead Zone (dun dun dun).
32 - Juggernaut gets in on the conversation, and some nasty words fly between him and Wolverine.
34 - Now I can enter the level. Even though Juggernaut and another woman were present at the briefing, I still go with the same four mutants. Upon entering the Dead Zone I see a giant ant dragging a young girl by her head. Uncool! I think it's Blink.
35 - Here's a "puzzle": I have to create a bridge. Who has that power? Maxwell? I explore the area a little more before deciding to let Magneto have a shot at it. He pulls in some random metal stuff from off-screen and forms it into a bridge spanning the chasm. Handy.
36 - Every time I get past an obstacle I see another cutscene of the ants dragging Blink by her head.
37 - Cyclops leveled up. I give him some Body, as he was taking a lot of damage, and I also unlock a new power, the Optic Slam, which is a wide-angle beam that can knock back multiple foes.
39 - I access a computer and my character gains a point in Striking! Apparently whichever character I had access it would gain the point.
40 - Normally I can tell what way to go by where the bad guys are coming from, but after wiping them all out in this area I stopped to explore and forget which way to go.
41 - Wolverine levels up and I give him Enhanced Senses, which raises his attack and defense. I found Blink, but she's guarded by the huge ants.
42 - Cyclops gets poisoned in the battle, but we come out victorious. Magneto leveled up, so I raise his Flight ability, which uses less EP per second, effectively letting him fly longer.
43 - Talking to Blink now.
44 - She offers her skill of making portals; now anytime I need to I can get back to base.
45 - She warps me to an extraction point, where I can save (for the first time!)
46 - Hey, the X button picks things up! I can lift boxes and throw them at baddies, and it's super effective!
47 - Whoa, a sink-hole just opened up and I fell in! There are lots of bugs here, and Storm levels up. I raise her Elemental Combat skill.
48 - Wolverine just called somebody "bub."
49 - I got a Danger Room Disc, which allows me to play a new mission in the Danger Room. I wonder if I get experience for doing that?
50 - Pressing L calls everyone to my side. I didn't know that.
51 - Beast will be happy: I found one of the Homing Beacons. I had to fly across a pit with Magneto to get it.
53 - Cyclops levels up again and I can finally upgrade his main Optic Beam attack, making it more powerful.
54 - Wolverine levels and I give him Might, which allows him to lift heavier objects. I can see that doing a lot of damage when thrown.
55 - The fighting is pretty repetitive now, it's still just punch and kick combos, with a special move thrown in here and there just to keep it from getting boring.
59 - I found a data disk, which is one of my next objectives. Now I have to find a couple more, but a mutant named Grizzly is trying to find them before I do, just to bug me.
60 - I fight some of Grizzly's robot guards, and Storm levels up at the end of the hour.
Minutes to Action: 3
Favorite Thing: Blasting foes with optic beams, and other X-Men powers.
Least Favorite Thing: Every character's basic moves were the same.
Design: The graphics are cartoony, with a thick black line around the characters. I guess this is meant to evoke feelings of the comic books, but I find it distracting. Sound design is hit and miss: Patrick Stewart's voice work is great, but the music is forgettable as are the hit effects and such. The other voice acting is passable, but doesn't use any of the Hollywood talent.
Story: I don't follow X-Men very closely, but I think it's a pretty big deal to have the X-Men team up with the Brotherhood, amirite? It doesn't seem to rely on the first game at all, and a cursory knowledge of the X-Men seems to be all that's required to follow the story. That being said, it's presented in too-long dialog sequences, and a few in-engine cutscenes. It does seem like it's going to have some depth, though.
Fun: It offers a strange mix of mindless button-mashing and deep planning and strategy (as action RPGs tend to), and some of the moves are cool.
Keep Playing: This game is two things: an action RPG and an X-Men game. If you are a big fan of either, and have a passing interest in the other, then you will enjoy this game. Personally, I only have a mild interest in each, so I will probably not continue playing.
Other Thoughts: It's basically a dungeon crawler with X-Men, so it relies a lot on beating up baddies as they come, over and over, and picking up the loot they drop and earning XP. The ability to switch between any of the four team members at any time helps break it up, and if they controlled differently besides their mutant powers, that could have been a redeeming feature. As it is, except for the “puzzles” that require the use of a certain mutant, they aren't much different, although I can see that the discrepancy is going to grow as more powers are unlocked. Still, the fact that their basic combos are all the same is a big disappointment. Surely Magneto and Wolverine do not fight with the same style.
This game (and its predecessor) is the groundwork for Marvel Ultimate Alliance. It plays the same way; the main difference is you can only play as X-Men, instead of the whole slew of Marvel characters.