Game Over Online ~ X-Men: Destiny

GameOver Game Reviews - X-Men: Destiny (c) Activision, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher X-Men: Destiny (c) Activision
System Requirements PlayStation 3
Overall Rating 69%
Date Published Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 12:27 PM


Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

Looking at the reaction to X-Men: Destiny online, it seems like a lot of people aren't discussing the game so much as they're talking about the wasted potential it represents.

Destiny is a game developed by Silicon Knights that, eleven years later, still isn't a sequel to Eternal Darkness. It's a morality-focused action-RPG that, due to being about five hours long, doesn't really have the time or inclination to really dig into what your choice means. It's a Marvel Universe game that's meant to let you create your own superhero or supervillain, but first shoehorns you into the role of one of three brand-new mutants in a vaguely-recognizable version of the comics' setting, then proceeds to take your suspension of disbelief and choke it by the neck 'til it dies. It's a beat-'em-up that, at its core, is barely more advanced than the light-light-heavy combo brawlers of the PlayStation era, and which waits way too long to give you any powers that make combat more interesting; it also introduces all its enemies very early on and basically puts you through a long series of arenas for the entirety of the game.

Just about anybody who A) plays Destiny and B) reads a website devoted to video game reviews will spend about half their game time working on a design document that creates a much more satisfying game than the one we actually got. The plot is barely coherent, the gameplay would not have been out of place in 1998, the graphics are phoned in, and the characters you play as are cardboard cut-outs. Absolutely everything about it is barely passable to the point of achieving near-perfect neutrality.

You pick a character in the crowd at a rally in San Francisco, where the X-Men have shown up to promote the ideals of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants (children of the atom, strange and powerful new abilities, hated and feared, etc.). You're either a brainless jock, a self-loathing human supremacist who abruptly gets mutant powers, or a Japanese immigrant from a mutant family who's trying to get Cyclops's attention. When things begin to blow up approximately fifteen seconds later, because any area that the X-Men enter starts blowing up eventually, you get to pick one of three power-sets and use it to pummel the holy bejesus out of pretty much everyone in the city.

Most licensed superhero games follow a similar path to X-Men: Destiny. Over the course of a single day, the hero gets to fight a who's-who of his franchise's villains, who have all teamed up against him for increasingly contrived reasons, many of whom have been redesigned to look either cooler (if they're male) or wear less clothing (if they're female). Destiny lets you fight Wolverine, Magneto, Juggernaut, Gambit, a full-sized Sentinel, the relatively-obscure villain John Sublime, Bastion, and approximately thirty-six thousand well-armed human supremacists over the course of the day after your character discovers his or her powers, which stretches suspension of disbelief in a way that Arkham Asylum never really thought to do. If there's a sequel, and this is Activision, and this game has the X-Men name on it, I fully expect to play through six hours of gameplay before the character leaves the womb.

I'm resorting to sarcasm because this game has remarkably little that can be said about it. You beat up thugs with very simple combos, until you reach the end of the game and you suddenly have powers that enable you to beat the crap out of dozens of them at once. There's a ton of continuity porn (although it's clearly an alternate universe, since Professor X is dead the moment the game starts, a major character dies about two-thirds of the way through, and a few characters in the game are either dead in the comics at the moment or incredibly minor), an all-star cast of voice actors, remarkably little variation in enemy types or gameplay (although there's kind of a fun shout-out to the old 2600 Spider-Man cart during the second-to-last boss fight), and the dialogue is occasionally good owing to a script by X-Men writer Mike Carey. It is just as occasionally irritating, as the characters earnestly tell each other things you already know, one of the playable characters drops Japanese phrases into her sentences for no reason other than that you might somehow forget she's Japanese, and everyone falls all over themselves to give you a messiah complex. Seriously, Destiny occasionally comes off like one of those stories on fanfiction.net where the author introduces a new mutant to the team who's more powerful, popular, handsome, and awesome than all of the established X-Men put together. It's downright embarrassing.

Destiny is short and features a ton of unskippable cutscenes. The general idea seems to have been that you could play through it up to six times, giving each of the characters a different power and checking out their various plotlines, while siding alternately with either Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the X-Men. It's not a bad idea, but somewhere between the drawing board and the ship date something went horribly wrong, and X-Men: Destiny became the video game equivalent of a big tub of artificial vanilla ice cream. There's no reason to play it, but it is not actively bad the way that some games are. It simply exists to kill time, and to make you think of the six thousand ways it could be better.

 

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Rating
69%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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