X-Men: The Official Game Review
The events in the game take place before those in the third X-Men movie. The team is mourning the loss of Jean Grey and struggling to get back on track when they're suddenly pressed back into duty. The story is told not through CG cutscenes, but dated looking still screens in the style of a graphic novel. This wouldn't be a bad thing if these short scenes had any production value at all, but when you're looking at a close-up shot of a character's face and they're talking with their mouth shut, it's tough to suspend disbelief. The recent Silent Hill compilation for the PSP did a great job making this type of storytelling engaging; X-Men: TOG does not.
Other mutants make appearances throughout the story, but the only playable characters are Wolverine, Iceman, and Nightcrawler. After giving you a chance to play as each character in a simulation, the story starts off with you playing as Nightcrawler, and then picking a story arch for either him or Wolverine. After the first act, you can choose another character, but once you've made your choice you're stuck with that person until the act finishes. This is presumably to encourage you to go back and replay the other characters' stories, but instead it makes the storytelling disjointed and difficult to follow.
As you would expect each mutant has their own unique moves, attacks, and special abilities. Wolverine is a basic brawler, Nightcrawler has the ability to teleport, and Icestorm surfs through the air on a board of ice and can freeze enemies. Since Wolverine's moves are so generic, it makes sense that his levels are the most uninteresting and bland. Nightcrawler's levels are just as dull, but his ability to teleport and even attack while teleporting make him the most fun to control. Icestorm's levels, which are like an on-rails shooter, are enjoyable, but they're made frustrating by time limits. All of the characters control reasonably well, and for the most part, the camera never hinders the action. Occasionally it runs into some problems when fighting close to a wall, but it usually corrects itself quickly.
Throughout most of the game you'll find yourself performing mundane objectives like opening doors, shutting off shields, and mashing buttons while fighting off hordes of enemies. If you're into fighting your way down a long hallway, opening a door, fighting, opening a door, and then fighting again, then hey - you might dig the game. To say the enemy A.I. is poor is putting it mildly. Enemies will wait patiently while you stand behind a corner to regenerate your health, and they've got very basic attack patterns - this goes for the bosses as well.
Even the game's unlockables are lame. Oh, extra costumes. Yay.
Visually, X-Men: TOG is about what you'd expect from a rushed to market, licensed game. There are some decent explosions here and there, the colors are vibrant, and what few characters there are, all look nice. Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of variety to the bad guys, so you'll be fighting the same guys over and over again. A number of graphical glitches permeate the game, and while they aren't game breaking, they are annoying.
Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming, and Shawn Ashmore all provide voice-overs for the characters they portray in the movies. Being big-time Hollywood actors, their performances are just fine, though they actually come off sounding somewhat bored. That, however, can mostly be attributed to the drab artwork that goes along with each cut-scene. It's hard to come across as intense when your scenes look like they were directed by a third-grader.
If you're looking for a great X-Men game, consider the enjoyable Legends series. The generic, thrown together experience known as X-Men: The Official Game is not what you're looking for. Again, there's nothing terrible about the game, but it's so painfully average that it's not worth a purchase. If you're interested in learning why Nightcrawler wasn't in the third movie, it might be worth a rental, but only if you're really curious.
6/12/2006 Aaron Thomas