Below is a review for the PS3 edition of X-Men: Destiny, provided to Marvel Animation Age by Activision Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Entertainment.


A major marketing point for X-Men: Destiny, the ability to choose your own destiny through a new character, is both the gameís biggest strength and largest weakness. You donít play as Cyclops, Wolverine, Magneto, or any of the other A-List X-Men that inhabit the worlds. Instead you have the choice between three new characters, the first of many choices you Ė the player Ė will have to make as the game progresses. And, again, this works for the game and somewhat against it, too. But, at the end of the day, when I put my controller down, I have to admit that I enjoyed my time playing the latest X-game from Activision. By no means is it perfect, far from it, but itís something fans should get a nice spin out of. So, letís dig a little deeper...

In the action-RPG X-Men: Destiny, you control the fate of a new mutant in the X-Men universe. Every choice has a consequence, as your destiny is determined through the decisions you make as you advance through the game. Play as one of three new characters in X-Men lore, each one of whom must come to terms with his or her unique background and powerful mutant identity while uncovering the truth behind an epic event that threatens to tear apart the tenuous peace between humanity and mutant kind. Evolve and customize your core mutant powers with an opportunity to earn and equip ďX-genesĒ to expand and alter your power base. Choose which path to take in key moments that impact your story and how other characters respond to you. Fight alongside and against famous mutants from the X-Men comics, including Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma Frost and more. Will you choose to follow the teachings of the X-Men to unite mutants and humans, or will you usher in a new age of mutant domination with Magneto's Brotherhood? You decide.

As a fan of the X-Men comics for such a long, long time, part of me loves this game. To be immersed in the X-Men world and fight side by side with my mutant heroes? It can be pretty awesome. Add on the fact that Mike Carey wrote the storyline and you have a game that does pay a respectful homage to the comic series. The characters feel authentic and the game feels like it just jumped off the pages of the recent X-Men comic titles. Itís not a direct adaption, but the games just feels like the comics Iím currently enjoying (Side-note: Everyone should be reading Uncanny X-Force). Activision has done a great job placing us in the X-Menís world and fans would love it. Even the three new playable characters - Japanese refuge Aimi Yoshida, jock Grant Alexander, an mutant hater Adrian Luca - all of them are good additions to the universe.

And that is....really the highlight. As much as I hate to say this, itís pretty much downhill from there. Now, itís not as bad as some would lead you to believe, just underwhelming. The last X-Men-theme games I played was X-Men Origins: Wolverine and, despite itsí repetitiveness, I found it a pretty fun game. Before that? The great X-Men: Legends games (we seriously need a new installment of that franchise). Sadly, X-Men: Destiny just doesnít live up to those previous X-titles. Everything just seems like a step down from the previous games. The controls, the animation, the cut scenes, the length Ė all of it seems to be a step back. The only thing thatís a step up is the excellent, excellent voice work done for the game. Seriously...itís top notch and incredibly well done.

And despite all that...I donít think itís a complete deal-breaker to be honest.

While I had a fine time playing the game, itís many cons did hamper the experience, the most noticeable one being the usually shoddy graphics. The graphics tend to teeter back and forth between good to passable to unbelievably poor. Characters like Cyclops, Magneto, Wolverine and the like looks great. The character models look solid and the acting for each works. But then...but then we get some designs like Emma Frost and Mystique, Mystique being the absolute worst. It looks like these designs were ported over from a previous generation game and just sandwiched in. Itís just shocking how bad some of the designs are. Itís very, very obvious the crew was short on time and concentrated on the more Ďpopularí mutants and allowed some of the secondary ones to...end up looking as they do. Mystique, again, is simply the worst offender of the bunch.

Now not all the graphics are bad. There are some nicely detailed environments and animations, though the majority of the game seems kinda grey-ish and drab. Bugs tend to pop up on occasion, whether it's characters getting stuck against a wall or just disappearing altogether when they obviously should be on screen. As I said before, voice acting is really good, though the game drops the ball by occasionally allowing the dialogue to get mixed together when others are speaking, or have it just drop out and disappear all together at times. This occasionally results in the odd time when crucial dialogue goes missing, dialogue thatís actually key to the story. Again, something that needed to be polished.

Combat is fun but mindless, eventually getting kinda boring and extremely repetitive. Youíll find yourself beating up the same crew of baddies over and over, though the game will throw in the odd variation to try and spice things up. It doesnít, but by the time you get bored with the combat, youíll likely still be in it to finish off the game. Itís a short game, easily finishable in roughly 6 hours, so the constant mashing wonít get too tiresome. Admittedly , I tended to get a nice kick when I ended up fighting alongside the occasional X-Man...that usually resparked my interest.

Your ability to customize your character wonít have that big of an effect on the fighting, though it will offer up some slight variations. Nothing too major, really. Regardless of the character you choose and the customization done, youíll find yourself extremely powerful very quickly in the game. Some of the fight animations also seem to be a bit long, and you'll occasionally be unable to stop an attack because you're in the middle of a move.

And this leads me to probably my biggest complaint with the game - the weak customization. I can accept the poor graphics, short campaign time and basic fighting, but what intrigued me most about the game was the idea of a choices, and how the choices will create and shape onesí entire game. That doesnít really happen here. In fact, it seems that the choices you make donít really affect the outcome of the game. No matter what choice you make, you still eventually head down the same path toward the same basic conclusion of the game. Shockingly, even leaning toward one team of the other Ė X-Men or Brotherhood Ė doesnít actually have any bearing on the gameís climax. That does kill the replayability quit a bit. A game like this should really embrace it. The idea of choosing your path, with the X-Men or the Brotherhood, is a great strength for the game, as it does seem to start out as a genuinely interesting way to step into the world of the X-Men. But that strength quickly becomes its weakness as it becomes apparent that, well...your choices don't really matter as the game progresses. Some decisions are minor, others direct, but they all basically lead to the same endgame.

One character I found really interesting, Adrian, I was really interested to see how both of his trails would go Ė one to the X-Men and one to the Brotherhood Ė and how it would all fare out. This is a really great character (not the most original, but still...) that is perfect for the whole Ďchoiceí thing. But...we donít get what we should get with him. The choices just donít feel as in-depth and layered as they should.

If youíre a die-hard X-Men fan, then youíll like this game. It doesnít match what has come before, but itís a fun way to spend 5 or 6 hours. Itís a nice exploration of their world and it does offer a few genuine thrills among the repetitiveness and noticeable sub-par quality. Word has it this game had an 8-month production cycle...I can definitely believe it. This game needed more time being polished and refined before hitting shelves. There's a great game in here, but it's marred by a fair host of problems. But still, even with those problems, I wasn't exactly hating this game by the time I finished the campaign. It kept me just interested enough to make it through without getting bored or frustrated. But the problems cited above can't be discounted, as they can really be damaging to enjoying the game.

X-Men: Density is a playable game that could have been a great game given more time. Thereís greatness here, but it just doesnít come together. Hereís hoping the next X-Men game is given more care. I honestly canít recommend picking this game up at its full price. $60 is too much to pay for a game that can be completed in under six hours. True, there is some replayability to it, but not much. If you want to check it out, rent it. You should be able to finish it in a few play sessions. However, major X-Men fans may want to consider picking it up to add to their collections.