While human-mutant relations seem to be going better than ever, the tension is still rising due to a radical hate group known as “The Purifiers”. The Purifiers want the extinction of the mutant race and protest many mutant gatherings. X-men: Destiny (X:D) is centered around a terrorist attack during a peace rally dedicated to the (now) deceased Professor X. This attack seems to be executed by the Brotherhood of Mutants, due to the powers used during the event, but the Brotherhood denies any involvement. It’s during this rally that your character discovers his or her mutant abilities. Unlike previous X-Men games, X:D doesn’t allow you to play as any established characters. You have to choose between three new characters: Aimi Yoshida, Adrian Luca, and Grant Alexander. Aimi is an immigrant from Japan with some abandonment issues, Grant is a generic jock with no political opinions, and Adrian is a Purifier, who is protesting the peace rally. (With Aimi and Grant being such bland characters, my primary playthrough was with Adrian.) The campaign takes you through a variety of rather bland settings, usually a city street or underground lab. Most of your favorite mutants have roles or cameos throughout the game, including: Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Mystique.
While there are a few disappointments in the campaign, it’s made up for by the solid story and voice acting. The game’s linear campaign is able to keep a brisk pace, while not losing focus of the main plot. The brisk pace may have also been due to the length of the campaign. The main story of X:D was quite short and easily beaten in a single night of playing. They try to make up for that fact by encouraging you to replay the campaign with each different character and mutant powers, but there are no achievements to illicit any replay value. I’ll touch again on this later.
The dialogue and voice acting was very well done, utilizing many A-List voice actors. The three lead characters are voiced by the somewhat famous Jamie Chung, Scott Porter, and Milo Ventimiglia. Most of the supporting characters in the game are played by the same voice actors from the cartoons, which keeps you from wanting to kill yourself due to ear-grating main characters. What does make you want to kill yourself would be the repetitive, uninteresting music. With a painfully generic and boring soundtrack, X:D gives you every reason to plug in some headphones during the gameplay. Thankfully, they let you mute the music in the audio options.
As your character delves into the reasons behind the attack, he/she will begin having to choose between helping the X-Men or the Brotherhood. For instance, you can choose to help Nightcrawler evacuate civilians from a dangerous city block or help Pyro go after the enemies and burn the city block down. As much as X:D advertises these choices, they have absolutely no effect on the game. While you may side with The Brotherhood through your entire game, there is still an option to join the X-Men. Also, when you choose to help one group or another, you gain “Faction Points” towards that group. These points are represented on a bar in your character screen; Brotherhood choices turn the bar red, while X-Men choices turn it blue. No matter how your faction points are divided, what you choose doesn’t influence any aspect of the story until you officially join one side. This was quite a disappointing revelation, considering X:D was advertised as a “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” type of game.
You could say that the style of X-men: Destiny has been done a few times before, Activision has been releasing similar titles since 2004. With predecessors like X-men: Legends, X-Men: Legends II, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, X-men: Destiny stays close to the formula that’s worked well in the past. The gameplay is a third-person/bird’s-eye view beat ’em up, with plenty of collectibles scattered throughout the maps. The combat is similar to almost every other beat ’em up, using a mix of “light” and “heavy” basic attacks, but you are also able to upgrade your special attacks. Interestingly enough, you don’t level up to gain new powers. Instead, you unlock them throughout the campaign during scenes with immense danger. At that point it will allow you to choose between two different powers.
While X-Men: Destiny‘s graphics are a bit dated, it doesn’t detract anything from the overall experience. Although, there were several instances of characters clipping through the environment or other characters. I think my favorite glitch was during a cutscene, when Wolverine fell straight into the ground and vanished. The rest of the scene was pretty entertaining, with my character talking to himself in an alley.
Personally, I found the largest disappointment in X:D to be the lack of any multiplayer. Every game previous to X:D was four-player co-operative campaigns, but X:D chose to make it a single player only campaign. I can understand wanting to take the game in a different direction, but the co-op was always my favorite part of those games. There are plenty of opportunities for co-op in the campaign, considering you’re usually paired with another mutant that fights with you. Why not make that mutant Player 2? I suppose that growing up with gamer siblings has made me want a co-op mode for everything that comes out, but X:D would have been a perfect candidate for it.
The achievements in X:D are split about 50/50 between storyline achievements and killing certain amounts of enemies. While this does provide an enjoyable and quick boost to your gamerscore, the achievements do work against adding replay value. There are achievements for playing towards the X-Men or Brotherhood factions, but these can easily be attained by replaying certain sections or reloading the checkpoints. Even at maximum, this would only promote two playthroughs of the short campaign. After two playthroughs and doing some of the challenge rooms, I ended up with about 900/1000. Given a few more hours with the game, I could have easily finished up getting all of the achievements.
Growing up with the comics and cartoons from Marvel, I tend to have a soft-spot for any games set in the X-Men universe. I always tend to enjoy them, even if they aren’t the best games. X-Men: Destiny falls into this category, requiring you to take the good with the bad. It’s a decent beat ’em up with great voice acting and a solid story, but it can become repetitive, lacks much replay value, and the campaign is very short.
I give X-Men: Destiny 3 “Yellow Spandex” out of 5
By Blake Edwards