Review by Old Rooster
"Alone, You Are Mighty. Together, You Are Legends"
Professor Charles Xavier
X-Men: Legends is an action/RPG (with a strong emphasis
on "action"), set in the X-Men comic universe,
that offers an entertaining, if not compelling, game experience.
Although not a particular fan of the comics, I found this outing
of Xavier's gang a good deal of varied fun. Devotees of the series
and films will absolutely have to have this very well-produced game.
Legends comes to us from Raven Software, a developer that
rarely, if ever, misses with its products. They first came to my
attention with the outstanding Heretic II, one of the very
best third-person PC action games, and one that demonstrated how
to employ successfully a following, over-the-shoulder cameraa
skill that had been largely fumbled by developers until that time.
In succeeding years, Raven has given us the Star Trek: Elite
Force series, Jedi Outcast and Academy, and the
Soldier of Fortune shooters. So it's not surprising that
this talented group from Wisconsin used their long, cold winters
so inventively and with such a sense of high regard for the subject
matter. Clearly, they enjoyed not only creating but also playing
"The Growing Mutant Menace" News Release
Something bad is happening in the City. It may involve the government
and clearly involves the dreaded Brotherhood. The opening cinematic
dramatically and colorfully offers the almost abduction of an "innocent"
young girlAlison (later to be known as Magma)by the
Sentinels. This is interrupted by Mystique and the Blob, with Wolverine
trying to get in on the act, but unsuccessfully. The first part
of the game, largely a tutorial level, consists of Wolverine tracking
the Blob and Alison through the streets of the City.
X-Men: Legends starts simply, with you in control of one
character, but very soon introduces Cyclops as your associate. Indeed,
during the course of the game, you can play 15 different disciples
of Xavier, each with distinctive skills and "talents."
The adventure will take you through 25 levelsfrom City streets
to sewers, forests, the Xavier Institute, even an asteroid.
The game plays in much the same vein as Baldur's
Gate: Dark Alliance. In many respects, it's a beat-'em-up,
with dozens of enemies; yet it also offers leveling and the ability
to increase the skills of your heroes through experience. Interestingly,
your entire entourage benefits from, for example, the success of
Wolverine, reflecting increases in health, defensive skills, attack
"Hurry, I Need Help over Here" Wolverine
The "hook," or primary distinction, of Legends is
the ability to employ a team of up to four heroes. This can be done
by a single player, who manages one at a time, with the A.I. controlling
the other three (sometimes not too effectively). Just hit the "call
allies" button, and they'll come running (maybe). Or at any
point after Wolverine's friends come into the game, my son can plug
his controller into the Cube, and we each can manage a character
of our choice. Well, it wouldn't have to be my son; it could be
yours, or a friend, spouse or neighbor mutant.
Once a selection of Super Heroes has been unlocked (not far into
the game), you can create your distinctive team at any Xtraction
Point, which also doubles as a save point. Thankfully, these are
sprinkled fairly liberally throughout the game. Once you're well
into the adventure, you can visit Xavier's Mansion for training,
sparring and skirmishing; talk to fellow X-Men, tour the grounds.
There are some unlockables, including classic comic covers and flashbacks,
which may bring a tear to the eye of dedicated fans.
If you can manage to hold down two buttons at a time, and your
Super Heroes have leveled up a bit (not too hard to manage), the
fighting fun really excels, with three ranges of Mutant Power capped
off by Xtreme Power. To give examples: Wolverine begins with a Brutal
Slash, moves through the skills of Eviscerate and Claw Frenzy, all
the way to Unstoppable Rage at level 25. Iceman starts with Freeze
Blast, then moves on to Ice Spikes and the ultimate Ice Forge. Rogue,
a delightful Mississippi belle, begins with Southern Strike, then
on to Bullet Proof and Invulnerability. You get the idea: each of
the 15 has a distinctive "quality" with increases that
are fitting for his or her peculiar orientation. You'll also enjoy
the Propeller Lash of Beast, the Taunt of Jubilee, the Kinetic Mastery
of Gambit, and, of course, the Optic Rage of Cyclops.
Although it is likely possible to complete the missions with only
two Super Heroes, especially if they are Wolverine plus Iceman or
Cyclops, the real entertainment comes with mixing and matching,
A fine heads-up display (HUD) is presented, with clear indicators
of health, energy, and experience, the level indicator of your currently
selected Hero, location(s) of enemies, even an invaluable automap.
"Mind If I Cut In?" Wolverine
As you might imagine, coming at the bad guys with multiple forms
of attack is typically very effective and always fun to watch. Once
your team is selected and in operation, it's easy to switch among
them, directing Iceman, for example, to do a little freezing, thereby
allowing time for Wolverine to do his thing. This works even better,
of course, with two or more players.
All is not perfect with gameplay mechanics. Primary problems lie,
ironically, given the developer's heritage, with the camera. Put
simply, you can sometimes get locked in a corner, sometimes have
problems proceeding in narrow places, sometimes not see what's coming
at you. This is only occasional, and a minor, not major concern.
Another difficulty comes with teammate A.I. They're not always fully
reliable, will not always come when called, will not always target
what they're supposed to, will sometimes wander off. Again, this
is only an occasional glitch.
For the most part, even the scenery is destructible, and you'll
find some bonuses in trash cans, as well as having fun knocking
down walls. Which brings us to the graphics. They're terrific. Cel
shading of the characters is used against very colorful backgrounds
presented in a three-quarters, top-down view. I always amazed at
how well the Cube can do, and this is certainly an example of the
Cube at its best. Further, the display of powers is beautifully
done, with no discernable slowdown in gameplay, even during the
most hectic of melee fighting.
And, of course, I can't leave out Patrick Stewart. Not only does
he provide his distinctive voice to Xavier, but also the script
is very well done, in classic comic book fashion, with many of the
kind of comments Wolverine made just above.
X-Men: Legends is a varied and entertaining romp through
an involving storyline in the X-Men universe. Fans of the comics
and films will find this well-done game a must-have. For others,
like me, it's still a good deal of shallow fun if you enjoy fighting
with multiple kinds of weapons.
The game is more action than RPG, but it does offer RPG-like skill
building. Graphics are outstanding, as are voice acting, the script
and the variety present in level design. The primary appeal of Legends
comes with the creation and implementation of Super Hero teams,
managed through either A.I. or a fellow player. This mix-and-match
feature, with up to 15 Mutants, offers multiple paths to problem
solving, creative ways to freeze, burn, cut and otherwise foil your
foes, and a good deal of potential replayability.
Finally, there are a number of extras and unlockables within the
game that X-Men fans, particularly, will find meaningful. In that
regard, and partly because I got stuck a couple of times early on,
I purchased and would strongly suggest the Brady Games strategy
guide. It not only goes well beyond the manual with Hero descriptions,
but also provides a detailed walkthrough and locations of extras
you might have missed your first time through.
All in all, this is a highly recommendable game, and Raven is to
be commended for yet another work of gaming art.
What I Liked Most About X-Men: Legends
- Up to 15 playable and interchangeable characters;
- An entertaining story, well-told in comic book fashion;
- Outstanding graphics, both Heroes and settings;
- Excellent voice acting, particularly from Patrick Stewart;
- The ability to introduce another player any time in the game.
Concerns I Had About the Game
- Sidekick A.I. and pathfinding a sometimes problem;
- Camera angles occasionally a concern.
Release Date: September 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).