X-MEN LEGENDS / Activision / Gamecube
 
 
The main advantages that the best Gamecube games boasted over their competitors of the time were superb colorful graphics, impeccable polish, and very quick loading times. X-Men Legends isn't one of the best Gamecube games, and has none of these things.

That's not to say it's a terrible game. It's more like an interesting concept held back by an apparent lack of budget and/or design/programming talent. It's primarily an overhead-view beat-em-up, but with RPG elements. Beating down baddies gets you EXP, leveling up allows you to assign points to stats or mutant abilities of your choice, and you find and buy equipment along the way as well. It also adds a multiplayer component; at any given time you can have up to four X-Men on the battlefield, all acting simultaneously and independently, and all four can be controlled by Puny Hunam players.
 


Alright, that's not a bad setup; so what goes wrong here? Let's start with the superficial - it's just an ugly-looking game, even by 2004 standards. It looks like a low-end Dreamcast game. Environments are drab and have bland textures. Characters are smushy, poorly defined, and the face models look ridiculously bad. But who cares about visuals, right? It's all about gameplay! Well, that kind of sucks too. The core beat-em-up engine is simplistic and boring, with few moves or combos, and the same clone enemies constantly thrown at you. Environments tend to be linear and uninteresting, with little background interaction, with the exception of causing massive property damage just to see if every random trash can happens to be one that holds equipment or currency (for no apparent reason.) A good range of available X-Men and their powers do spice all this up a bit ... but their powers also have to be gradually unlocked as you only start with one each, meaning at least the first few hours are a slog of repetitive punch combos galore. The menu system is also kind of janky and unprofessional-looking, with constant load times ... you even go to a separate load screen every time you go to the "Characters" screen to upgrade or level-up a member of your team!
 


The biggest problem, however, centers around the "squad management" aspect. X-Men Legends seems like another one of those games that was designed almost entirely with multiplayer in mind, and single-player AI ally control was thrown in as a hasty afterthought. If you actually have 3 or 4 friends around to grind through the whole adventure with, it might actually be a blast. Trying to control one X-Man while simultaneously managing 3 other derpsters (who alternate between either getting in the way, or standing 30 yards away picking their butts while a battle is raging across the screen) is just too much of a headache, especially when even common enemies tend to shred right through your defenses.

Maybe bump the game up to a 3/5 if you consistenly have 3 or 4 people around to actually play the whole adventure with ... for a solo player I don't think it's worth bothering with, though.
 
 
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