Review: X-Men Legends

Comics are very, very popular these days. Or rather, movies and games based on comics are. Since X-Men is one of the most read comics around its only natural that we see a lot of games and movies based on Xavier's merry mutants. This latest game is a bit more special than most comic based games though. Nine out of ten comic games are action adventures, meaning you beat up lots of bad guys as a well-known comic book hero and see a flashy cut scene or two. X-Men Legends is different because it's an action RPG. In this case action RPG means you beat up lots of bad guys as a group of well-known comic book heroes who specialise their powers as you see fit… and see a flashy cut scene or two. The group and the specializing parts are what are different, if you didn't notice. You surely agree this all sounds nice, but are there enough new ideas in X-Men Legends to keep it interesting after all those countless mediocre superhero games out there? As always, you don't have to figure that out for yourself, we've already written it down for you. Its right under this intro, see?


Of mutants and man:

When you start X-Men Legends you get treated to a little CG intro in which we see the shape shifting Mystique and the extremely obese Blob (members of the Brotherhood of Mutants, which means they're evil) kidnaps a mutant girl with the power to control magma. Immediately after this you're thrown into the action, you control Wolverine and have to stop Mystique and Blob before they get away with the girl. After joining up with Cyclops you save the day and end this introductionary mission by beating the snot out of Blob and freeing the girl. This girl, who loyal X-Men readers will recognize as Magma, plays an important role in the game's story. This may seem strange as Magma is not one of the more familiar X-Men, but it's a really smart choice. In the game Magma isn't an X-Men yet, so she doesn't know anything about them. This way the game can explain a lot of things about them without giving it a forced feeling; it would be kind of strange if Wolverine would ask Rogue what kind of powers she has. This means newcomers to the X-Men universe won't have to miss any details and fans can skip the explanations to get on with the main story. The story is written especially for the game by Man of Action; a group of comic story writers, and involves a truckload of familiar X-Men characters, both good and evil ones. It's not a literary masterpiece but it ties the action together nicely.


Mutant powers:

At first the game may not seem like an RPG, especially when you just control Wolverine in the first mission, but as soon as you control more than one X-Men and level up a few times the RPG system becomes more apparent. In most of the missions you guide a team of four X-Men, you control one of them (you can change who with the D-pad) and the computer controls the rest. Choosing which X-Men are in your team is more than just picking the coolest looking ones, all of them have specific attributes and abilities. Every time one of them levels up you get to spend a few points on their attributes (strength, speed, the usual) and a few points on their mutant abilities. These abilities can be special moves (Cyclops' eye blast) but also less direct powers like leadership, which boosts the amount of experience the whole party gets for combo moves. Combo moves are even cooler than regular special moves, they occur when two X-Men attack an enemy with a special move at the same time, think of Iceman freezing a foe and Wolverine chopping him up with his claws.


Each ability fits well with the character that can use it, so Rogue can increase her might to lift heavy objects, Storm can fly and Jean Grey has telekinetic powers. These specific abilities force you to consider different teams before settling with a good one, which is encouraged by the fact that even the characters that are not in your team at the moment gain experience when you fight. To make the choice of your team even more important, there are environmental puzzles that only some of the X-Men can solve; some walls can be smashed by strong X-Men, fires can be put out by Storm and Iceman, and Cyclops can weld metal with his eye blast. There is a little item management with different armors, enhancements and items to restore health and energy, but the RPG depth is found in the mutant abilities and the team forming.


Looks and sounds:

Epic RPG games often have matching graphics and music; you know the kind, graphics that could almost be fantasy paintings and music that wouldn't sound out of place in an opera house. Unfortunately X-Men Legends doesn't follow suit here. For the characters the game uses cel-shading, for the surroundings normal textures. This usually makes the characters look out of place in their more normal looking surroundings, and X-Men Legends is no exception here. To make matters worse the cel-shading is pretty lo-res, so the color cells aren't sharp and distinct like in Wind Waker, but rather smudgy. The music isn't too great either, there aren't a lot of samples and they loop a little soon, which is quite annoying since most of the levels are rather long. The voice acting is varied, some of the voices fit the character very well and some could've been done better. They all share one thing though, they smacktalk far too often. After every few enemies you beat up your character will make a funny remark, which stops being funny after you've heard it for the umpteenth time.


Despite the disappointing graphics and sounds though, X-Men Legends does a good job of putting across the feeling of the X-Men comics. Even in all their lo-res glory the characters are instantly recognizable, despite the fact that they appear in their Ultimate X-Men outfits rather than their classic ones. The story may not be from a real comic, but it's written by writers that have a lot of experience in comics, and that really shows. Like almost all X-Men stories it has a lot to do with acceptance between humans and mutants. Between the story missions you often get the chance to wander around the X-Mansion as Magma, which gives you the chance to explore the place, talk to a few other mutants and do a few danger room missions. The danger room simulates training fights or historic X-Men fights; it gives you the chance to battle the Sentinels in New York City or Juggernaut in the X-Mansion for instance. These missions are a nice change of pace from the main missions and are a good way to get familiar with the various mutants that inhabit the X-Men universe.


Final Say:

X-Men Legends doesn't look or sound great, but it's a game more than worthy of the X-Men name. The four-character gameplay keeps the tedium off longer than expected, the fact that up to three of your friends can plug in a controller and take over one of the other X-Men makes it even more enjoyable. There are a few annoyances like bridges you can fall off a little too easily, the AI that's quite clumsy in places and the fact that it does get repetitive in the end. But you can't stay mad at a game that lets you chuck a complete jet ski at an opponent as Rogue or Colossus, admit it! It has enough charm to keep you entertained throughout most of the 20-plus hours it'll take you to finish it, even if you're not a die-hard X-Men reader.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Enjoyable teamplay but quite repetitive

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Lots of characters and moves
Lots of background info
4 player action!


Looks and sounds pretty dull
Gets repetitive easily

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