Starting as a Marvel comic book way back when, this once-simple comic spawned this franchise into virtually every form of entertainment, including trading cards, a TV series, a movie, and yes, even video games. While this series hasnít seen a new video game in quite some time, the premise is still quite promising.
Thanks to Paradox Development and Activision, players can now compete in a 3D fighting world starring all the renowned X-Men in hopes to stand up for your race against one manís hostile plot. The story is rather simple: Bastian is bent on ridding the world of all mutants. This is where you, one of the X-Men, come into play.
Paradox Development really wants to make a successful game, so theyíre looking to the top franchises for ideas and gameplay elements. That said, X-Men: ND will sport various elements from numerous of the top fighting franchises -- most notably, Dead or Alive 3.
The game looks great, really great. The characters are robust with color and are intricately detailed to accurately resemble those found in the comic books and cartoon series. And while the looks are impressive, the mutants all believably mimic their counterparts movements and fighting styles, as well. The levels were also rendered nicely, and theyíre the one of the many integral pieces in the puzzle that makes this game feel so genuine.
Featuring 24 fighters in all, basically every X-Men character, regular or not, is included. So while the regulars are all there -- Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, etc., there are also the lesser known characters, such as Toad, Nightcrawler, and Mystique. And players can choose from three different costumes for each mutant.
X-Men: ND will also put heavy emphasis on side-stepping and countering, which can both be initiated quickly. Because the game is no longer an all-offensive one, momentum and pace can change before the blink of an eye, and this adds somewhat of a strategic play-mind rather than a blind-sighted button mashing one.
Mid-air and crouching attacks are also taken advantage of, and sometimes the attacks amidst the air will go into a Matrix-esque slow-motion state. Just as quickly, though, itíll return to normal pace, as to not slow down the blistering pace of the game. Speaking of pace, it almost always runs at an impressive speed of 60 fps, and the game is chock-full of swift moving characters that are versatile in every which way and compliment the gameís speed.
What sews all these play aspects together to create the most genuine X-Men feel, though, is the use of styles. The characters move, fight, and even have special moves according to their comic book counterparts. So, for instance, Stormís move-set is filled with moves involving levitating objects and creating offensives by being able to control mother-nature. And a character like Wolverine will have his claws to do the dirty work; heís also as agile as a cat and has the ability to heal over time.
The game also boasts multi-sectioned levels. Consequently, the environments are always changing, as throws and hurls will launch the opposition right into another locale. In addition, most of these intertwined areas are set up with a circular traveling route so that you can usually end up in the first area after leaving the last area.
X-Men: Next Dimension still has a few months of developmental time before itíll hit stores, and the game is heading on a very positive track so far. Also, keep your eyes peeled for another X-Men game; itís an action-adventure staring hands-down the most popular character, Wolverine. In the meantime, stay tuned for the various gameplay modes, a full list of characters, and some screens.
5/13/2002 Joseph Comunale