Reviewer’s Rating: ★
"X-Men: Destiny” is a lie. The entire concept of the game is the promise of a choose-your-own-adventure story set in the X-Men universe. You must decide whether to join the X-Men or the mutant terrorists known as the Brotherhood, and supposedly this choice will have a major impact on the story and gameplay. In the end, no matter what path you take you’ll just end up disappointed.
Things are not looking good for the X-Men. Their founder, Charles Xavier, is dead. The mutants have relocated to San Francisco, where they are supposedly welcomed with open arms. Of course, an anti-mutant organization calling themselves the Purifiers arrives and turns the city into a battleground, pitting mutant against human. The player must choose between one of three playable personas: Grant Alexander, a football player, Adrian Luca, whose parents are Purifiers, and Aimi, who was smuggled out of Japan for her own safety.
No matter which character you pick, the story will remain almost exactly the same. The main characters are pretty much blank slates in terms of personality, which makes sense, considering the whole idea of the game is that you’re supposed to make all the decisions. However, these choices don’t lead to any meaningful effect. It just means that you’re stuck with three boring main characters. Sure, the many X-Men and Brotherhood cameos are well done, but you can’t play as any of them. Quite frankly, it feels like being stuck on the sidelines while the X-Men get the real action.
The game starts with you selecting which mutant power you want to use. There’s density control, which basically makes your fists into big rocky bludgeoning devices, energy projection, which allows you to fire concussive blasts from your hands, and shadow matter, which can be used for teleporting and creating blades out of materialized darkness. With your handy dandy mutant power in tow, you’ll punch and blast through wave after wave of enemies, leveling up and gaining new skills along the way. It’s solid, but quickly becomes repetitive. Lazily designed wall-climbing sequences and boss battles don’t do much to mix it up. Call me a stickler for in-game logic, but when a boss literally holds his only weak point right in my face for half a minute, it demolishes my suspension of disbelief.
However, this feeling of repetition doesn’t last long. The game can easily be beaten in six hours. Time for a second playthrough, right? After all, if you played as the football player with density powers and joined the Brotherhood side the first time around, surely Adrian’s energy bolts and some X-Men allies will provide a different experience? Sadly, no. The powers all lead to the same button-mashing gameplay, and joining the X-Men instead of the Brotherhood changes almost nothing about the game. You’ll go on mostly the same missions, just with Nightcrawler backing you up instead of the Juggernaut. The two endings are truly pathetic half-minute affairs in which you listen to a little speech from either Cyclops or Magneto. It’s an ending worthy of the X-Men arcade game back in 1992, but it doesn’t cut it today.
The graphics, music, and voice acting are all mediocre. Some of the X-Men characters’ new designs are pretty cool, though others will raise an eyebrow like Nightcrawler with cornrows. In the end, there’s nothing particularly memorable or fun about this game. It’s just an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the X-Men and games like “Mass Effect,” which actually fulfill their promise to let the player make choices that impact the story.
Die-hard X-Men fans might be able to overlook “Destiny’s” many weaknesses, but for the rest of us it’s an evolutionary dead end.