In hindsight, I kind of feel sorry for the console version of X-Men Destiny. I personally think the game is pretty good, considering it goes in a completely different direction than most games, and though the combat is repetitive, there’s some sort of purpose behind it. However, that game’s going to get buried next week when the superior Batman: Arkham City comes out, where only a few comic book fans will break away to follow the exploits of those young kids. There’s also a good side to this – the Nintendo DS version of Destiny will be equally buried. As it deserves to be.
While the DS Destiny follows a similar plot to the console versions – you follow three would-be mutants as they team with X-Men and Brotherhood characters on a path that will lead them to their ultimate destiny – that’s really all it has in common with them. Other Ocean Interactive clearly took the cheap route with this game’s design, not only making a bland beat-em-up game with minimal value, but also making it appear that this is a first-gen effort for the intended hardware. And it’s been out for some time now, and improved upon with various models since.
Let’s start with the gameplay. It’s typical “beat up enemies, move along” stuff, and there are some interesting level-up aspects as you move along later in the game. However, it doesn’t have nearly the same amount of uniqueness and effect as the console Destiny. The hit detection is off at times, the abilities never really show improvement in combat, and the AI is incredibly cheap, with gangs of enemies sneaking up on you and taking turns beating you up – even when you’re trying to simply recover and fight back. It gets to such a level of cheapness that you’ll almost feel like heaving your DS across the room.
To make matters worse, the checkpoints are sporadic, so if you do die at a certain spot in battle, you have to start all the way back at the beginning. Considering some of the fights become blisteringly difficult later on in the game, it’ll get to the point that you really don’t give a damn about these kids’ destinies.
One would think that Other Ocean would show some initiative in giving this game a comic book-style flair, so fans could identify with their beloved property. Nope, no dice. The visuals are fuzzy at best, with poor character animations, a lame top-down camera that sometimes limits what you’re trying to see ahead of you, and the kind of level design that sorely lacks inspiration. After a few battles, you won’t give a damn where you’re fighting or who you’re going up against. What’s more, there aren’t any animated cinemas in the game, just stoic cinema sequences featuring still characters and on-screen text. C’mon, we know the hardware is capable of handling cinema stuff, we’ve seen it in previous comic book games!
The audio is even worse. The music is repetitive and bland, without any hint of comic book excitement going for them, and the sound effects are weak. There are some bits of voicework, but they’re limited to death screams at best. Conversations are limited to weak text balloons, and considering Jamie Chung was a highlight from the console versions (voicing Aimi), that’s a huge minus.
Really, X-Men Destiny for the Nintendo DS qualifies as one of the worst portable games of the year. It’s boring, lifeless, and sloppily made. It can’t even hold a candle to the console versions. Skip this, bub.