| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=NA] |
|References added: 390, 414|
"X-Men Legends is an RPG-ish multiplayer beat-em-up like Dark Alliance and Norrath."
Raven is known more for their id-engine FPS games than for console games, but they went and made a four-player beat-em-up in the vein of Champions of Norrath (see entry 390), etc, for console, and based on the X-Men (movies, mostly) at that. And not surprisingly, it feels like it could use some polish.
I suppose that if you read reviews of all three console versions they would say that the PS2 version loads the slowest, and I hope that's true, because it sure does load pretty slow on the PS2. You even have to look at a load screen when going into the character configuration menu, which is horrible. Horrible! Argh! Now, the game isn't quite as inventory-heavy as a game like Champions of Norrath where you have to switch weapons and armor constantly, but you still have to go in there a fair amount of the time.
Some of the load time is probably due to the plethora of characters available, and that in itself is a good thing. They're pretty well done for the most part too, and using their powers, even at low level, is really fun. For instance I just switched to trying Jean Grey and her telepathy sounds weeny at first, until you try it: suddenly crates and snowmobiles and things are whipping around the room at your beck and call, and glorious destruction is wreaked without Jean lifting a finger. Neato! The boss fights I've seen are fairly well-done too, the boss AI manages to not seem overly stupid, even (normal thugs, on the other hand, are pretty stupid).
You can also play with up to four players simultaneously, another very good thing. In theory. One major drawback here is that only one person can be inventory at a time--uh-oh. I mean, inventory management time is painful enough in, say, Baldur's Gate II (see entry 414), and there you have only two players and both can do inventory management at once. Sounds like it could be problematic.
Things also get pretty crowded with four players. At least, with three other AIs playing players in single-player mode, it can get a little confusing with everyone running around, blasting, shouting, etc. It doesn't help that voice cues are usually delayed by a few seconds. It also doesn't help that the camera tends to pitch up nearly directly overhead, making it hard to see who's who, or that it also gets kind of twitch as it fights to keep four characters in view. In general the camera moves funny, and this makes it harder than it should be to navigate. The automap, thank goodness, is pretty nice.
But the main weirdness with this game's implementation of multiplayer is that there are levels where you just can't use it. The very first level, for instance: you have to play through most of the level with just one person before you can bring other people in. How lame is that? Oh, sorry guys, I know we all wanted to play a game together, but you'll have to wait until I find more characters. Guh. If you don't have a previous save handy, you'll have to play through two entire levels before you have access to more than two characters, so if you have four buddies over, two will be twiddling their thumbs for quite some time.
If someone dies, which at least so far for me has not been infrequent seeing as how there are deadly drops yawning on the sides of paths everywhere (grrr!), you have to go back to the unfortunately infrequent save points to get them back or replace them with a different X-Man. So people will be twiddling their thumbs longer.
Framerate here isn't the greatest, but it never gets really horrible. Many of the characters look a little silly instead of, um, cool. Environments are fairly nondescript, as are the sound effects and music for the most part. Some of the voices are good, many are annoying, and I suppose it was intended that they all have comic-booking cheeseballness to them.
Oh combat--that's what you ought to be doing in this type of game, when there's nothing else irritating going on to distract you (loads, backtracking, inventory, etc). Well, aside from the camera making everything feel a little confusing, combat is pretty good. It can be tricky to keep your character oriented on your target--sometimes they sort of slip off--and the multitude of two-button combos are a little bewildering, oh and the hit detection feels a little soupy, oh and the combat music gets old fast, but the powers, as I've said, are fun, and the game gives you combo bonuses and special combo moves (like Rogue + Wolverine = "Fastball Special" from the comics) when two heroes combine efforts.
So there's good and there's bad here. I'd like to see Raven do another game like this where they have time to work out technical details like inventory screens and cameras. I've no idea how long the game is, it kind of feels like I'm blowing through levels fairly quickly, but we'll see.
|Download added: xfastball.jpg (19887 bytes)|
"Oopsie, missed with my Fastball Special. But it's fun to throw things."
Given that a strong character like Rogue can seemingly launch Wolverine into a "Fastball Special" at will, might this make it easy for the player controlling Rogue to tick the Wolverine character off a lot? Hmm...