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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action / RPG

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Raven Software

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 20, 2005

 

 

- Looks great

- Mixes The Brotherhood into the works

- A ton of unlockables for X-Men fans

- Familiar style and action means fans of the original can jump right in

- Multiplayer for Gauntlet-type action

 

 

- Menus are cumbersome and confusing at first

- Character quips are mostly awful

- AI controlled characters can get in the way at choke points

- Not quite the depth of what RPG gamers will be expecting

 

 

Review: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (PC)

Review: X-Men Legends (XB)

Review: Dungeon Siege II (PC)

Review: City of Heroes (PC)

Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (XB)

 

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X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Score: 8.3 / 10

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse fits firmly into the action/RPG genre along with the likes of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Dungeon Siege II, and The Bard's Tale and acts a perfect follow-up to last years original by offering a great mix of "more of the same" and some new additions, like the ability to utilize members of The Brotherhood -- the evil counterpart of the goodie-goodie X-Men.

 

x-men legends ii rise of apocalypse review          x-men legends ii rise of apocalypse review

 

Being able to play as characters from The Brotherhood like Magneto, Sabretooth and Juggernaut is made possible by the comic book story which, centers on the rise of Apocalypse (like the subtitle wasn't enough to tell you that) and his Four Horsemen as they attempt to wreak some extreme havoc.  So great is the threat that Magneto sees only one solution: team-up (temporarily) with the X-Men.  This simply simple addition makes for some very engrossing gameplay, particularly for X-Men junkies that have always wanted to create their own mutant team-up.

 

Before each mission (and even during) you select mutants to make up a group of four.  During the single-player campaign, you are always in direct control of one character, with the ability to switch to the other three mutants on-the-fly.  Your squadmates are controlled to some degree by the computer AI, with attack traits (aggressive, defensive, etc.) by the player.  The computer uses the characters pretty effectively during fights (though they do sometimes get in the way when you're trying to get through a door).  Ranged fighters like Cyclops will position themselves to reflect the advantage of attacking from afar, while melee fighters like Colossus will go toe-to-toe with anyone.  Increasing their effectiveness is done by earning experience points (XP), which increases damage that can be doled out, offers new mutant attacks, etc.  Allocating XP can be done automatically by the computer or you can chose to dole them out to specific areas manually.  And like all good action/RPG Rise of Apocalypse offers a ton of upgrades to buy and find throughout the game, which can further toughen up your mutants, make them more accurate or more powerful.

 

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The action and control is relatively straightforward -- throw a few punches, perform a special mutant attack, and move on to the next objective.  Attacks can be combined among your group of selected mutants to cause even more damage and to mix up the action a bit.  Strangely enough, the action never gets stale.

 

Maybe it's because the group can be altered (almost at will) or maybe it's the cool-looking cel-shaded graphics but it could also be the numerous cameo 

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appearances of mutants we know from the comic books and the fact some areas can be approached differently (and power-ups acquired) depending on the specific mutants in your group that keeps the action from feeling stale.  Unfortunately, there are some areas of the game that will drive X-Men fans nuts, the chief one being that each character has a "mana" expenditure that is associated with all the best moves.  Why does Magneto have to replenish his mana before crushing things with his mastery over all metals?  Or better still, why does Wolverine have to use a heal potion to replenish his health?  His mutant healing ability should take care of that!  If you can look past this discrepancy from the source material you'll have more fun in the long run.

 

Rise of Apocalypse is an easy game to watch.  The cel-shaded graphics engine -- in full 3D -- offers equal parts ease of being able to see what's going on at a glance, smoothly animated moves and small details that gamers can appreciate.  I can't sing the same praises of the audio however.  Patrick Stewart returns as Professor Xavier and as usual he's great but the character quips range wildly from competent to awful -- Gambit and Bishop being particularly crappy -- and the music is forgettable.

 

x-men legends ii rise of apocalypse review          x-men legends ii rise of apocalypse review

 

Throughout each environment there are an assortment of icons to find that unlock comic book covers that are included to encourage the player to explore every nook and cranny of some very large maps.  There is the chance to unlock secret characters, which can add to the fun but all these extras are there mostly for fan service because casual players probably won't be as interested in unlocking everything.

 

Developer Raven also included a multiplayer mode.  It makes sense to include the four-player mode for that Gauntlet feel and it does offer some fun.  Even better is that you don't need to have friends over, you can play online.  This feature certainly helps extend that playtime but the single-player campaign is strong enough that you won't miss the multiplayer if you give it a miss.

 

In the end, if you're into action/RPGs or the X-Men, X-Mem Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse should be on your wish list for Christmas.  It's just about everything a fan could want even if it's more popcorn than a "serious" RPG.

 

- Omni

(November 21, 2005)

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