X-Men: The Official Game – 360 – Review

Gone are the
party members that are all controllable, and can be swapped out on the fly. So
too are the cel-shaded elements that gave the games the feel of the interactive
comic book. Oh, the comic book sequence is still there, but this time used
wonderfully as cutscenes to transition the story.

X-Men: The
Official Game is the third of the Marvel/Z-Axis/Activision games and picks up
where the second movie left off. In the past, the franchise was squad-based.
This time, though, it focuses on three characters (and one of which does not
appear in the upcoming movie) and a linear game tree that has some wonderful
twists and turns.

And yes, the
game is gorgeous on the 360. Watching Bobby Drake weave his ice slide about,
while used portions tumble away in blocks, or seeing Nightcrawler teleport in a
puff of black smoke from one location to another are all moments in which the
game truly sparkles. And then, just for the sheer joy of it, there is the raging
beast that slices and dices through enemies – Wolverine.

The story
driving the game was c
by Zak Penn (screenwriter for the first two X-Men movies) and Chris Claremont (a
legend when it comes to penning comic books), and the Official Game serves as a
precursor to the pending X-Men III film. How so? Well, the three central
characters in the game are Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Iceman. But Nightcrawler
does not appear in the movie. The game will explain why. No spoilers here,

X-Men: The Official Game Xbox 360 screenshots

The game
plays out in the third-person format with a branching tree quest system that is
very linear in design. You begin in a tutorial of sorts, with each of the
characters working through cursory mission designed to acquaint players with the
feel for the fighting styles and the control schemes for each individual
character. Remember the epic battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth at the
Statue of Liberty in the first movie. It is sort of back, with some guards
making a different, to get players used to controlling the quintessential
scrapper. Next, Wolverine loads up a training mission for Bobby, a.k.a. Iceman.
There are fires on boats that must be extinguished using icy blasts, and then
aerial opponents. Finally, the game steps outside the training room at the
Mutant Academy to put Nightcrawler inside the base at Alkali Lake.

X-Men: The Official Game Xbox 360 screenshots

The combat
styles for each character are markedly different. Wolverine is about slash,
tumble, impale, slash some more and finally, slash some more. Iceman has
defensive shields and that ice slide that can occupy a large part of the screen
with the pathing, but is really a joy to watch and control. He can also send out
a variety of ranged attacks, from a single volley to a locked-on storm.
Nightcrawler, though, is perhaps the most diverse, and most entertaining of the
trio. His acrobatic moves are much fun, but it is his teleportation that makes
him a real joy to play. He can pop down from a high structure to a position
behind an enemy, unleash an attack and then teleport away. Go back to the first
movie, and his attacks inside the White House and you will understand exactly
what is being described.

From there
the game parlays the actions of each into a tree, with some missions having to
be done sequentially to unlock the next while, at times, players can select
which to run from the same horizontal (unlocked) set. Each of the missions can
be run at different difficulty settings, and depending on what level you do the
mission at (and they are repeatable at different settings) will determine how
much of a reward you get at the end. The reward allows players to ‘re-sequence’
DNA to mutate the character and become more customized. You can, for example,
make Wolverine a heavily defensive-minded character. (Not recommended unless you
want to get a personal call from a feral-looking man named Logan.)

If you are
looking for much stronger ties to the motion picture franchise, just take a
gander at the characters in the game. Shawn Ashmore’s likeness is Bobby Drake
(Iceman), while Hugh Jackman’s face graces Wolverine’s visage and Alan Cumming’s
image is used for Nightcrawler. Other X-Men also appear, taken from their
movie-actor counterparts.

The game
steers away from the remarkable cutscenes that have graced other titles, and
instead uses graphics panels almost in comic book style. The stills are highly
details and amazing, to say the least. The sound is very well done and keeps the
game in line with the graphical elements.

Once the
incredible eye candy wears down, and can be seen past, what remains is a
well-told story with vibrant characters and entertaining action and challenges.
X-Men: The Official Game is the best of the three titles so far.

Review Scoring Details

for X-Men: The Official Game

The game is
linear, and the controls were not as responsive as on other platforms, but still
do a solid job and are not that hard to learn or use.

Rich, luscious,
and amazing – the graphics in this title are a tasty bit of eye candy. The
animations will also delight.

The sound does
take a bit of a backseat to the graphics, but still are very strong elements.

Difficulty: Medium
Each mission can
be played at various difficulty levels to unlock better rewards.

The game is
linear, but the story is solid and the game mechanics are very good.

The game explains
a lot about what fans may not see in the upcoming movie, and while this is a
departure from the previous squad-based titles, it is still a wonderful and
enjoyable bit of fun. The missions do not take overly long to complete, so
players may get through this, the first time, in quick order. Add the linear
nature to this and the game does become a bit predictable. Still, it is a real
treat and the three characters add different play styles to the game elements.
The Official Game equals ‘official’ fun.