A missed opportunity, that’s what the X-Men: Destiny feels like. It has a great premise, putting the player in the shoes of a new mutant rather than playing a well established mutant. How you choose to shape and develop this mutant is up to you. Add the opportunity to make meaningful choices and X-Men: Destiny has the potential to be a spectacular game. Unfortunately the potential of the game is not fully realised as this fun action brawler is hindered by repetitive mission structure, generic action set-pieces and inadequate production values.
X-Men: Destiny mutates the marvel continuity and takes place in an alternate and grim reality where Professor Xavier has been killed by a being called Bastion. The doors of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning have been closed and the X-Men have relocated to San Francisco. The death of Xavier has scattered the X-Men leaving them vulnerable and weaker. To make matters worse, tensions between mutants and humans have escalated significantly. Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, joins the mayor of San Francisco in a peace rally in order to combat the growing tensions, but things go from bad to worse when the rally is attacked by an unknown force and through the chaos a new mutant is born.
This new mutant is you and you are given the option of choosing from three distinct characters: a typical college freshman who lets his fists do the talking; a Japanese refugee girl who's trying to find her place in the land of opportunity; or an anti-mutant extremist. Three distinct power sets are available to the player - Density Control, Energy Projection and Shadow Matter - which can be fully developed along with additional combat moves and attack powers throughout the game.
With the fate of the world resting on your shoulders you will need every advantage at your disposal and that's where X-Genes come in. Littered throughout the environment, X-Genes provide unique and useful benefits by allowing your character to utilize the genes of other mutants. Equipping and upgrading Magneto’s defensive X-Gene, for example, allows the player to deflect projectiles, while equipping Wolverine’s offensive X-Gene allows the user to deal extra damage. Most X-Genes can be upgraded by utilising the experience gained during missions, however, it is not possible to fully upgrade all of the X-Genes in a single play-through, so determining which abilities best suit your character early on is recommended. The player is also rewarded for collecting and equipping all four X-Genes for a specific mutant. For instance, equipping all of Quicksilver’s upgrades gives the player the option of activating his particular X-Mode, which allows the player to harnesses his lightning fast movement and attacks. By utilising all of the abilities at your disposal you can turn into a whirlwind of destruction and power.
X-Men: Destiny gives you the opportunity to play as an insanely powerful mutant for several hours. Sadly this is as good as it gets because under closer scrutiny the abhorrent mutations of the game start to show. Combat in X-Men: Destiny is a repetitive affair consisting of arena style environments where the goal is to ‘whammy’ a world of hurt on X number of enemies. The combat is somewhat enhanced periodically with the introduction of new powers and abilities, the addition of missions which have you fighting alongside members of the X-Men or the Brotherhood, and some entertaining boss fights, but the bulk of the game sees you energy blasting the same baton wielding minion who has the combat proficiency of a squirrel.
Playing through this game reminded me a great deal of the first Spider-man game on the Playstation, and therein lies the problem with X-Men: Destiny. Several years ago this game would have been considered a step in the right direction. However, the reality is that action games have progressed considerably since then and X-Men: Destiny feels like a step backwards in many ways. The conversation system feels tacked on and the character models and environments are generally lacklustre. Thankfully, the characterisation and voice work of most of the characters is spot on, though it seems that competent Cajun voice actors are non-existent, and Gambit’s accent weaves from Jamaican to French to the downright unknown. It’s not as bad as the accent in X-Men: Wolverine Origins, but it’s still pretty bad.
X-Men: Destiny is just too inconsistent. All of the concepts within the game have been done before, and have been done better. The impact that a character's origin has on the game's storyline has been done in games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age but on a far deeper level. Moreover, in games like Infamous your decisions play a great deal in shaping and changing the story, while the choices you make in X-Men: Destiny have little bearing on the story. Even siding with the Brotherhood as opposed to the X-Men had minimal impact on the storyline.
It's ironic that a game about mutation, which is apparently the key to our evolution, has done the complete opposite. It's a pity because X-Men: Destiny is a game full of potential but this potential is never fully realised. That being said, I do take things for what they are and this game, contrary to what the developer has said, is not an action RPG, but rather a beat-em up that wouldn't be out of place in your console's disc tray on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If you can accept that then there is some fun to be had, especially if you are an X-Men fan.
- Being an overpowered superhero is fun
- Extensive customisation features
- Poor production values
- Short campaign
- Repetitive missions