X-Men Destiny Review

On paper X-Men: Destiny seems like a great idea for a game. You play as a mutant who has just discovered his or her powers, and you can customize and grow your power set as the game progresses. As you fight alongside the X-Men and The Brotherhood against a common foe and the who's who gallery of famous mutants helps you adjust to your powers, you'll be faced with moral dilemmas that will shape your character and eventually steer you to towards the moment when you choose to align yourself with one or the other. Sounds great, right? Ah, but this is paper, at least its 21st Century digital equivalent, and in reality X-Men: Destiny is an unimaginative trial of a button-masher.

The first fault with the game is a major misstep � there's no character editor. A game based on the concept of making a new mutant to call your own should let you choose what that mutant looks like. Instead you're given your choice of one of three stock characters � a football jock, a Japanese girl, and a former anti-mutant vigilante � none of which you'll particularly enjoy playing. If this was the game's only design mistake it might be possible to begrudgingly look past it, but it's only the first in a long line of problems.

The next issue also hits you pretty early on in the game. There are three base power sets to select from in the game that fall into decidedly archetypical categories, density control (tank), energy projection (ranged), and shadow matter (DPS). I'm not faulting the game's power sets for their relative lack of imagination, but rather for the way they're present to you. You're forced to choose your power set during the game's opening sequence from three short text descriptions, and the text does a poor job of differentiating between the density control and shadow matter powers. Your custom mutant experience for the rest of the game will be shaped by a blind choice which gives you no idea what your mutant will be like to play.

The game opens at a mutant/human unity rally dedicated to the late Charles Xavier that is interrupted by a large-scale terrorist attack followed by a virtual invasion by an anti-mutant militia known as the Purifiers. The X-Men and Brotherhood team together to prevent the Purifiers from taking advantage of the chaos to kidnap mutants to use as the subjects of their secret experiments, and you as a newly mutated mutant join them in the fight as you learn to use your newfound powers.

This setup is supposed to lay the groundwork for a game in which you must make decisions that will affect your standing with the X-Men and the Brotherhood, ultimately leading to you aligning yourself with one or the other mutant faction. That's the theory anyway, in practice your choices are made blatantly obvious since they amount to "accept mission from X-Men/Brotherhood mutant?" It doesn't really matter whose missions you accept or decline because the only thing that it affects in the game is a meter that shows how closely you're aligned to one group or the other, and you'll still be offered missions from both factions no matter where the needle sits. Your decisions don't affect the story arc. Even when it comes time to make your big commitment you can go either way, regardless of your alignment meter's position. As far as I can tell, the only thing that the meter affects is the occasional line of inconsequential dialing and the availability of some powers for your mutant.

And while I'm on the topic of powers, the game takes a very schizophrenic approach to them that doesn't fit the X-Men universe at all. As you make your way through the game you'll come across or be awarded X-Genes and the outfits of various famous X-Men and Brotherhood mutants. Making an X-Gene active gives you access to an additional power or buff derived from the power set of the owning mutant. With three slots available (plus one for your costume) you can customize your own powers a bit more to your liking, but I'm not sure what this is supposed to represent from an X-Men perspective. How many X-Men derive their powers from their costumes? And it doesn't fit the game's narrative at all.

All of these issues would be at least partially forgivable if the gameplay was good, but it's not so they aren't. X-Men: Destiny is the epitome of lazy level design. It's linear to a fault and you move from one defeat x number of enemies moment to the next. Even the sporadic challenge areas amount to defeating a quota of enemies with only minor modifications such as time limits or competition from an AI-controlled mutant. And when it comes to the fighting it doesn't really matter which power set you've chosen because each battle is an exercise in button mashing; ranged, tank, or what have you, just wade into the mob and mash. The game grows quickly tiresome, and doesn't go anywhere but down from there.

Final Rating: 55%. If Destiny calls, don't answer the phone.


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