previews\ Sep 5, 2005 at 8:00 pm

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse - PSP - Preview

A member of Magneto’s Brotherhood sums it up rather succinctly near the game’s onset: “Never thought I’d see the day the Brotherhood’d be working alongside you X-Pukes!”

Only in the virtual world, and only when the threat is such that it warrants such an unlikely alliance between the enemies.

But this has occurred. Apocalypse has attacked and decimated the Brotherhood’s stronghold on Genosha, and when Magneto (and company) partner with some X-Men to rescue Professor X, aka Charles Xavier, the alliance seems cemented.

Not that it does not come without its problems, but that gives X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse plenty of personality to go along with strong action and compelling gameplay. Oh, and Blur Studio has supplied some absolutely amazing CG animation that really spices up the game and draws players into the world.

Activision recently hosted an event in San Francisco to show off the latest build of X-Men L2 on multiple platforms, among them the PSP. Ok, you are probably wondering if the PSP can handle a game with the scope of the X-Men Legends franchise, not to mention four characters onscreen simultaneously and the CG animation.

Well, not only does the PSP handle it all with incredible ease, but the PSP version will feature 30% more gameplay and four more characters. Upstairs at the Activision event, the star of the X-Men show was the online multiplayer element. PSP gamers won’t be left out in that regard either. The PSP version will feature total WiFi multiplayer support. 

Those who played the original title will remember fondly how the game allowed players to jump into the mix by simply plugging in a controller on their favorite console system, and then taking on one of the characters in the four-member team. Well, fans screamed for online support and the developers (Vicarious Visions is responsible for the game on the PSP) listened.

Yes, there is a drawback to the PSP screen size and that is the text moments in the game. It is a tad small, and older players may need to grab those “reading” glasses to read it. And with the game being 30% bigger (the Xbox version has close to 100 levels) this is clearly a game that will keep gamers immersed for a long, long time.

Now some of the levels do feel a little short during the play time (especially the missions at the start of the game), and they are rather linear, but the joy of putting together that perfect team with some of the X-Men and Brotherhood is just too much fun. Everyone knows how much attitude Wolverine has; well, compare that to Juggernaut, who lumbers through as a maelstrom of mayhem within one hulking body.

The CG work is more than impressive, easily rivals the look sported by the home consoles (if not looking a little better on the smaller screen) and has so many little elements that certainly stand out. Early in the game, when the Brotherhood and X-Men meet, one of the Brotherhood gets in Wolverine’s face. The scruffy member of the team responds by extending his claws between the two, then turns, walks off and retracts all the claws but the middle one. It is so indicative of his personality that the moment is almost priceless.

Meetings between the two groups are often interrupted by confrontation of the verbal kind, and it seems that Professor X and Magneto’s hold on this alliance is tenuous at best.

The control scheme on the PSP is easy to pick up and once again players can interrupt the game to level their avatars or let the game’s AI take care of the minutia through auto-distribution of drops or leveling points – thereby ensuring almost totally uninterrupted gameplay. Of course, the X on the ground allows players to swap out team members, just like in the previous game.

If you liked the first X-Men Legends title on the home console platforms, then you will love the second on this handheld platform. There is so much more here to immerse oneself in. It is so easy to jump into and have an absolute blast with this version of the game. The control scheme is simple to understand and use effectively, and the game mechanics are such that the look, feel and sound of the game shines without detracting from the gameplay itself.

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is slated to release September 20 on the Xbox, PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube and PSP platforms.

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