Thursday, June 15, 2006

VG REVIEW: X-Men: The Official Game

Activision, for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and GameCube
rated T for Teen (violence), $39.99 and $59.99 (Xbox 360 only).

I wonder if at any point during the development of "X-Men: The Official Game," the folks at Activision turned to one another and said, "You know, maybe we shouldn’t release this."

I mean, they had to know this was a horrible game. It’s clunky, dull, buggy and frustrating to play. There is no way they could have thought this was anything even halfway resembling a good title.

And yet they released it anyway, which once again proves that in the video game industry — like most other entertainment industries, I should add — pushing out products is far more important than producing anything of quality.

"X-Men" is, of course, the game tie-in to the new "X3" film, now playing at a theater near you. Rather than being just an adaptation of the movie, the game’s story is sandwiched between the last film and the new one.

In the game, you play as three characters: Wolverine, Iceman and Nightcrawler. Iceman rides on a never-stopping rail of ice and shoots ice beams. Nightcrawler can teleport short distances and take enemies by surprise. Wolverine can just slice apart anything that gets in his way.

So far so good, but here everything starts to fall apart. The story, despite the best efforts of voice actors Hugh Jackman and Alan Cumming, makes little sense. The characters are clunky and offer little to distinguish them from one another. And the enemies are dense, dumb and mind-numbingly repetitive.

I could go on and talk about the lack of interesting combo moves, the stupefyingly dull boss battles and the way the game confuses quantity with quality by throwing 50 versions of the same villain at you. But suffice it to say that everything about this game tells you it was slapped together as quickly as possible in order to come out at the same time as the film.

In fact, "X-Men: The Official Game" isn’t a game at all. It’s a cog in the ever-grinding promotional machine that is the "X-Men" franchise.

That it doesn’t make the slightest effort to be even remotely engaging tells you something about how little regard its makers have not only for you, the consumer, but of their profession. A Burger King tie-in glass displays more pride in craftsmanship than this game does.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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