reviews\ Oct 28, 2002 at 7:00 pm

X-Men: Next Dimension - PS2 - Review

Click! The optical lasers sear through the air. With a harsh metallic ring, spiny claws extend, made more imposing by the snarl of their owner. Lightning dances in the air as the white-haired woman floats in the midst of the maelstrom, the very forces of nature at her command.

The X-men have long fascinated and delighted comic book fans, as well as devotees of the cartoon series. Under the guidance of Professor Charles Xavier, the mutant humans have carried on the fight not only for mutant rights, but for human rights. In a sense the story of the X-men, blown to unreal heights by their amazing powers and titanic battles against impossible odds, is a story of discrimination. They are different and branded for it. Ostracized, outcast and the object of scorn and fear, there are those who would like to see them eradicated.

So much for the hypothesis of the deeper meaning behind the characters. Back to reality, and the PlayStation2 release of X-men Next Dimension from Marvel and Activision. The game teases with the promise of a terrific storyline, then sinks into an endless stream of brawls between those with supernatural powers.

The storyline is as follows: Bastion (a humanoid with superhuman strength and mutagenic power-dampening device), who’s primary mission was to destroy all mutants, has been liberated from S.H.I.E.L.D. by Prime Sentinels and rebuilt. To accomplish his mission, Bastion has had one of the X-men kidnapped. Forge is being coerced into revealing secrets, which could mean the end for mutant-kind. A strange alliance has been brokered, and the X-men have teamed up with the enemy Brotherhood of Mutants to rescue Forge.

Good news for fight fans ­ not only do you get the likes of Wolverine, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Phoenix and Nightcrawler, but you can also fight as Juggernaut, Magneto, Mystique, Sabretooth and Toad. At moments during the game, you will have the opportunity of selecting which fighter you want to engage in the battle.

In addition to the story mode, X-men Next Dimension has four other fight modes ­ Arcade (10 matches against the CPU), Versus (two-player head-to-head combat), Survival (one player against a stream of opponents and one health bar, which does get a small boost for every battle won), and Practice.

The game controls are a little involved, and will take about 15 minutes to get comfortable with all the permutations. For example, the L2 button is for eight-way movement, which is controlled by the left analog stick. The directional buttons actually move the character; up is forward, but tap up and your X-men will sidestep up. Up and hold and he or she will jump. Meters keep you in touch with health and ‘supers,’ the signature moves of the characters. Each super is listed as Level 1-4. You can run out of juice for one move, but transfer power from another to the move you want to use. Here’s where it gets tricky. In the Versus mode, transferring power from one super to another uses different key combinations for each player. Player 1 may wish to transfer power to Super 1, and can do so by pressing L1 and the square button. If Player 2 wants to do the same, he or she must press L1 and the circle button. That just seems overly complicated.

Graphically the game is all over the place. While the environments look good and some of the special effects are wonderful, some of the animations are a grab bag of fluid movement and jerky steps. The game also has some clipping problems where characters and knocked down and legs disappear into the ground.

Patrick Stewart supplies the voice of Professor X, and the overall vocal work by the talented group of actors is excellent.

This is a game that had the potential to be excellent, but instead settled for ordinary. Had the plot been fleshed out and the game was, instead of a combat game, an RPG with mystery, puzzles and challenge, this would have been an excellent game. Just having super mutants battle each other, over and over, makes this just another fight game.

This game is rated for Teens.


Gameplay: 7
The game is an endless stream of fights. The cutscenes are well done, but they are really the only glue that holds the storyline together. The combat arenas are small and somewhat tight.

Graphics: 7
This game features a real grab bag. There are moments of pure delight followed by moments where the characters bog down or clip into the environment. Some of the special effects are wonderful

Sound: 7.5
The vocal work is excellent, but the rest of the audio track is expected.

Difficulty: Medium
The controls seem overly involved at times, which is about the only thing that makes this game tough. The actual fights, once you understand the control elements, are straightforward. Find the key to defeating each opponent and it holds up throughout the game.

Concept: 6.8
Tease with a storyline, then take it away ­ that’s essentially what this game does. The combat is, for the most part, well done, but this game could have been so much more.

Multiplayer: 7
One-on-one, head-to-head combat is what this game offers.

Overall: 7
This game could have been so much more. Even the Spider-man title, though heavy on action and combat, managed to thread together enough of a story to keep it evolving and entertaining. The storyline in this game is supposedly the reason for all the combat. Well, the very nature of X-men tales was good enough for that ­ not only do they have to contend with the Sentinels, but the Brotherhood as well. That’s combat galore. While the game does have some nice graphical moments, the overall look and feel of the game is merely average.


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