The X-men are a group of mutants trying to keep the peace between humans and mutants. Throughout the years, new X-men were added and the originals changed, however throughout the “evolution” of the X-men, one thing has been true no matter what: it would be so cool to have one of their powers.
X-men Legends for GameCube gives you the power of Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, Jean Grey, Rogue, and even Xavier, and allows you to defeat everything from anti-mutant troops to other-dimensional beings. (Defeat, not kill, there’s no killing in this game!)
Here there be game spoilers:
Starting as the ever delicious Wolverine, you must track Blob, a really fat mutant with the ability to leave foot shaped craters in the street (which is real convenient) through New York, where he and Mystique have kidnapped a young mutant, Allison Crestmere, a.k.a. Magma. The girl got upset in New York and turned the place into another Pompeii (…nice). Navigating through the city, you meet some anti-mutant scum, defeat them, and move along to Central Park. The best part, since you’re Wolverine and there is no time limit for this part, if you get low on life you can just hang around somewhere you just cleared of baddies and wait for him to regain his health. Oh, and one more thing, leveling him up gives you new mutant powers, such as claw slash with Wolverine or an optic blast with Cyclops, who you also get on the streets of New York.
You can pick up health and energy packs, which help you heal and recover mutant powers faster. They are easy to use, however at the beginning you are limited to ten, so be careful when you use them and make sure that you stock up whenever you can.
First, you meet up with Mystique, kick her tail, then gain some info on why you’re there. A group called the Brotherhood and led by Magneto (surprise, surprise!) wants the girl for their diabolical purposes, whatever they are. (You never really find out why they want her in this section, so go ahead and make something up until later.) Cyclops joins your team, and now you can play as him, kicking butt along the way. Then you meet up with Blob and are charged with defeating him and saving Allison.
After New York, you gain access to the mansion as Allison and learn about the X-men. While exploring, you meet several other X-men, learn some more about different people, and basically get a brief history lesson of the X-men and the Brotherhood. (You can take a tour of the mansion, or you can explore by yourself, which is always fun too, but if it’s your first time through, I suggest the tour. You can end it at any time, and it’s immensely interesting, even for X-men buffs like myself.) You are also introduced to the Danger Room, a training grounds for the X-men (and an easy way for inexperienced players to rank up their characters without having to take on missions).
As the story progresses, Magneto is broken out of his prison, the Sentinels are released to reek havoc on the mutants. You gain X-men as you meet them, and the cast list grows to include such rarely seen X-men as Colossus, Nightcrawler, the White Queen, Beast, and others, each with their own original powers and slight drawbacks: Nightcrawler can save people from certain death, but is really bad at actually fighting, and Colossus can fight well, but uses his energy quite fast. (But, hey, at least they got their accents right…for the most part.)
You also meet several of the “bad guys”, who are kind of debatable whether their actually evil or not. Mystique, Blob, Toad, Pyro, and Avalanche are just a few of the Brotherhood mutants you fight. You also take on the Morlock’s leader, Marrow, Xavier’s half-brother, Juggernaut (who is NOT a mutant, he gets his power from a gem), and a whole lot of Sentinels, the mutant-hunting robots with one purpose, to kill any and all mutants. In the Astral Plane, you fight really evil versions of Avalanche, Pyro, and Blob (who are all conveniently part of the Brotherhood …hmmm).
Battle against the various “bad guys” calls for many different strategies. Along with the regular troops, the X-men also run into “special” bad guys who are “power-resistant” (Cyclops would have a hard time beating them) to “physical-resistant” (Wolverine can pummel this guy all he wants, it won’t do much). Some enemies make getting close enough to hit with a physical move hard, and some have special ranged attacks that make you want to corner the guy until he’s down. This makes picking your team for each mission (you get to pick four X-men for each mission, and don’t worry, you can change them if they aren’t working in that particular mission) a very important task.
In addition to the bad guys who try to destroy you, the environment can kill you as well. Everything from gaping chasms in Alaska to lava flows in the Earth sit there in wait to kill you should you fall into them. Escape from a sinking ship, which has gaps of electrified water sitting in the bottom, to wind up in the Morlock’s tunnels, which have sewage rivers that most would try to avoid if it killed them (which believe me, in some instances it will). Oh, and don’t forget the “void” in the Astral Plane, which is just one floating castle in the middle of nothing. And if that’s not enough, the mutants will also run into fires, electrified rooms, energy-sucking machines, and to top it all off, timed missions that will kill you if you don’t finish the mission in time.
One fun part, if you choose and you have time, you can destroy everything in the rooms. Machinery, boxes, walls, all fair game. (Some X-men lovers will find this mildly amusing for a little while, especially if you need to mark rooms you've already explored.) Since the environments are limited to the areas you can explore and the areas you can’t, usually finding your way around isn't too hard, though finishing your tasks may prove a little more difficult, since some of the levels are virtual mazes. (If you get frustrated, don’t worry, just take your anger out on the environment, it usually doesn't put up much of a fight.)
Each mutant interacts with each environment differently. Nightcrawler can teleport through solid objects and can also teleport teammates through them as well (though don’t try to teleport anywhere near a chasm, he’ll probably fall). If Colossus hits most walls, they brake (some walls he can even break through). Storm can fly, as well as some of the other characters (but be careful, you can get her stuck somewhere, then if you’re playing two player, the other player has to find her to have her rejoin the team.) As they gain levels, they also gain specific powers, called “Xtreme powers” (original, huh?). Colossus smashes his fist into the ground, causing an earthquake, and Wolverine slashes every enemy on the screen, however they are limited to how many “Xtreme points” you have.
You can pick up different add-ons for the mutants as well. DNA regenerators, tissue generators, body armor, and point buffers can be found everywhere and help to increase mutants abilities, however, some are just useless once you reach a certain point, so make sure to keep the mutants updated on armor and packs.
Personally, I found the “free battle” ability more interesting than the “turn battle” style. I can take my time defeating a foe, which is helpful when my team is dead and I only have one player left (which is usually either Wolverine or Nightcrawler). I can change characters if a foe proves to difficult to defeat with my current X-man, so long as they are already on my team. I can go from pummeling someone with Wolverine (who is undeniably the best at what he does, completely destroying people) to blasting them as Cyclops (who can hit at a distance, which is handy when the person would kill you with one direct hit). The other three members of your team will usually battle the foe you’re focused on, unless there’s plenty to go around, then trust they’ll hold their own against an army of Sentinels should need be (and at one point or another, that’ll come in handy).
I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to play as Xavier in the real world, but playing as him in the Astral Plane was good enough. He is automatically level fifty, which comes in handy against the Astral Plane denizens. He usually kills them in two hits, whereas everyone else takes fifteen. You can’t play as any of the Brotherhood mutants, either. (And I so wanted to look like a frog!) Some unplayable characters will help you along the way (the Brotherhood fights Sentinels at your side and Havoc will help you in the Weapons X factory), however, sometimes they can be more of a burden because you can’t help them or control them in any way.
The environments are somewhat restricting as well. Turn one wrong corner and you’ll be in a dead end. Good if you get lost easy, bad if you’re more interested in exploring than beating the game. You also have no choice on which missions you do (duh!) though when you reach the point of having more than one mission at a time, you can choose which to do first. In the mission, you can’t move on until all objectives are complete. (so if you don’t like playing by the rules, this really isn’t the game for you.)
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this game. The actual game play is intriguing and the characters believable. (Well, in the sense that mutants would be believable. At least their canon…for the most part.) For anyone who enjoys gaming and Marvel comics, I would definitely recommend this game. (Heck, even if you don’t you should still try it.) X-men Legends will prove a challenge for anyone who tries it.
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