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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Paradox Development

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Good selection of characters (some unlockable)

- Very good variety of moves

- An actual Story Mode

- Some big “arenas”

- Looks great

 

 

- Uneven audio

- Using the Z-button is tricky at the best of times

- Responsiveness could have been upped

- A few graphical glitches

- A few fighting environments are only average

- I never thought bouncing breasts could be so damn distracting!

 

 

Review: X-Men: Next Dimension (XBox)

Review: Virtua Fighter 4 (Playstation 2)

Review: Super Smash Brothers Melee (Gamecube)

 

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X-Men: Next Dimension

Score: 7.8 / 10

 

Most fighting games have a “Story” mode.  If you’re a fan of the genre, you know precisely what I mean.  Story means you fight some guys get a quick cutscene that doesn’t have any real significance.  Then when you stand triumphant over the last opponent you might get another cutscene or a scrolling snippet of text.  In Story mode terms, X-Men: Next Dimension (XND) blasts everything else out of the water then hits them with a psychic attack.

 

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XND has an actual story – complete with comic book twists – that has the X-Men facing off against the evil Bastion, who’s planning the extermination of mutantkind.  Instead of choosing a character and taking them from start to finish, you follow the story, getting to use nearly all the X-Men in the course of events.  There are points where you have a chance to pick from a limited selection of characters to take into the next encounter, but by the end of the game, you should have at least a working knowledge of how to use most of the characters.

 

Although the Story mode is strong, XND maintains a selection of traditional fighting modes including Arcade, Versus, Survival, Team, and Time Attack.  It’s with these modes that all the characters – except the locked ones – are available. (There are some pretty strong hints from the fighting environments just who those locked characters are.)

 

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The character roster shouldn’t disappoint anyone.  All your favorite X-Men characters are here: Cyclops, Rogue, Mystique, Magneto, Forge, Juggernaut, Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike, Gambit, Toad, and Nightcrawler.  There are a total of 24 fighters and they all look awesome especially, some of the larger characters, and in particular, Juggernaut.  He may be the slowest guy around but he sure does look awesome.  But one aspect of the character animation that is a total distraction: jiggle factor.

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Almost without exception, the female characters are hiding basketballs in their shirts.  You think you’ve seen curvaceous and bouncy in a videogame?  Wait until you see Psylocke and Rogue going at it.  At times I couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable with it.  I pointed out the jiggling to my wife, “I know it’s comic book stuff, but what the hell’s the point?”  We both agreed it was excessive, bordering on objectification of women, but then she left the room and I started panting again.  Regardless, it’s distracting.  Really.

 

So far, XND has all the features that make up a great fighting game: variety of game modes, solid roster of characters, and some slick looking fighters.  All this is for naught without solid control.

 

And XND succeeds to large extent, offering a control scheme that makes the fighting easy for beginners to get into the game, while offering enough finesse moves and fast action for fighting veterans. (Admittedly, the control can seem unresponsive at times -- with some practice this can be overcome.)  One only needs to take a look at the roster of moves for each character to see how much depth XND has.  Stringing these moves into devastating combos does take practice since every button and stick on the controller is put to use.  Not only that, if your character can fly you can take to the air for short periods to plan your attack.  There are other character specific attacks, such as Phoenix’s telekinetic power that can be used to pick up objects and fling them at opponents.  Besides stringing regular attacks together, each character has access to four Super moves (Level 1, 2, 3, and 4) that become available after filling up the Super meter.  The power earned can also be funneled into the Super move of your choice by use of the Z-button, which presents probably the only major problem – the Z-button is just too small for my big hands to be used effectively!

 

Still, lots of different attacks and moves (including aerial) make for good variety, and XND can hold it’s own against more established fighting franchises – whether fighting the CPU or a human opponent.

 

A couple of the less than stellar features of XND is the uneven audio and some of the fighting environments.

 

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Patrick Stewart makes an appearance as Professor Xavier in his attempt to appear in every Activision project – I hear that he’ll be one of the unlockable characters in Tony Hawk 5 – and turns in a great performance.  And the music is pretty good too, but the character catchphrases are practically unbearable.  They repeat the same line over and over and most are delivered with the same level of enthusiasm of someone opening the mail.  And there’s a jarring disconnect between the volume of the voices and every other sound.  The multi-level fighting environments are great most of the time.  They’re 3D and, in general, are imaginative and great to look at (especially the Danger Room with its shifting scenes) but then there are few that don’t measure up – made more noticeable than if the “arenas” were all average.

 

Blemishes aside, X-Men: Next Dimension is a good fighting game, made even better by the story mode that actually tells a story and does something different.  X-Men and comic book fans won’t be disappointed, and if you’re into the fighting genre, it’s worth at least a rental.

 

- Omni

(December 14, 2002)

 

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