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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Paradox Development

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Itís the X-Men

- Graphics are good

- Interactive fighting environments

 

 

- Difficult and unresponsive fighting game controls

- Do all female superheroes have big breasts and wear thongs?

- Has a ďhuh?Ē story mode; why are X-Men fighting other fellow X-Men to defeat Bastion?

 

 

Review: Dead or Alive 3 (XB)

Review: Barbarian (PS2)

 

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X-Men: Next Dimension

Score: 7.0 / 10

The X-Men license fared very well in the 2D fighting game genre due in large part to the development brilliance by the kings of the 2D fighting game, Capcom. 3D X-Men fighters havenít been nearly as good. The newest X-men 3D fighting game title, the multi-platform X-Men: Next Dimension (XND) attempts to again make synonymous the X-Men and a quality fighting game. But unfortunately, due to the utter frustrating lack of responsive fighting game controls. If XND attended the Mutant Academy it would barely get a passing grade. The gaming world must still sit impatiently twiddling its button-pushing thumbs waiting for a good 3D X-Men fighter.  

 

xmen-next-dimension-1.jpg (29416 bytes)   xmen-next-dimension-2.jpg (28591 bytes)   xmen-next-dimension-3.jpg (31995 bytes)

 

Any fighting game on the Xbox has to live up to the high standards of the best playing and looking Xbox fighting game to date, Dead or Alive 3 (DOA3). While XND doesnít come up too short of DOA3ís measuring stick for aesthetic value, it falls by the wayside (the way ďway-over-thereĒ side) of coming anywhere near the sensational playability of Tecmoís fighting masterpiece. The seamless and responsive control scheme found in DOA3 just cannot be found in XND.

 

Heck, it doesnít even have the control ease of another Xbox fighter, the inferior Kakuto Chojin, which doesnít have a lot of XNDís features but controls much better. It isnít that there isnít a boatload of moves available for XND either. There are plenty of specialty moves assigned to each fighting character. But having plenty of moves mapped to the controller and getting them to respond to your desired actions is a different story. There is a definite sluggish feel to XNDís controls, so much so that youíll never have any level of comfort that the move you are tapping on the controller will be performed against your opponent. Itís the single-most reason that I cannot give this game a higher rating.

 

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If you bought this game for your kids, then you might be old enough to remember the old-school arcade game Frogger. Even if youíre not that ancient, you may have seen the new Frogger games from the past few years. Whatever Frogger game youíre familiar with, Zapper plays basically the same way, but replaces a frog with a cricket jumping around.

 

Surprisingly, the controls used to manipulate a leaping cricket through the various levels are easy enough to learn 

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and The only other shortcoming that the game has is a ďhuh?Ē story mode that doesnít quite work because of nonsensical fight match-ups that the mode places you in. The plot of the story mode has Professor Xís X-Men joining forces with Magnetoís Brotherhood of Mutants to battle Bastionís Sentinel army intent on eliminating all mutantkind. Okay, as an X-Men fan, I can buy into that storyline. But if that is the case, why does the game set up fights between supposed allies and even between the X-Men themselves? Just doesnít add up. One good touch in the story mode is the voice acting, led by Patrick Stewart, who lends his vocal chords here for the role he portrays in the movie version of the X-Men, Professor X.

 

There are a few other modes, as would be expected, if you donít want to try to figure out the logic of the story mode. An arcade, versus, survival, and practice mode all make a welcome appearance.

 

XND does have some redeeming qualities that make it worthy of purchase consideration if you are an X-Men fan. To start with, the game looks good. The characters are detailed to the X-treme. Odds are, if you have a favorite X-Men (or evil mutant, if you lean that way) youíll find him or her in XNDís roster. Magneto, Rogue, Storm, Nightcrawler, Beast, Juggernaut, Forge, and my personal favorite, Wolverine, are here, among others. XND is the best looking videogame portrayal of the X-Men. It does seem to go a little overboard when it comes to the Marvel Universeís super heroines and villianesses, though, who are a tad too breast-endowed here. Even worse is some of the rather skimpy attire hardly covering their bare essentials. (How can Storm possibly fight well with that thong? Isnít she worried about wedgies? )

 

xmen-next-dimension-4.jpg (26788 bytes)          xmen-next-dimension-5.jpg (34628 bytes)

 

To go along with the fine-looking characters are the detailed fighting arenas, which are interactively breakable and in some instances multi-tiered. The best one is the Mutant Academy mansion, which starts out inside, but a few well-placed hits to you or your opponent and the fight can gradually be taken outside. And lastly, while I didnít like the controls of the game, at least XND gives you a good challenge with its artificial intelligence. You wonít be able to just use one move to make your way through opponent after opponent. Opponents could potentially require a whole different fighting approach if you want any chance to defeat them. To a certain extent, having a sweat-inducing challenge from the gameís AI compensates for having to deal with weak overall control schematics.

 

While not as impressive as other Xbox fighters, the Marvel Universe comic book heroes and villains certainly look the best they ever have in videogame form in XND. The AI challenge pushes even the best gamers too. But the gameís good looks and taxing challenge level cannot help overcome the difficult fighting controls that made playing not very much fun at all. In fact, the controls absolutely ruin the XND experience. Even fighting game veterans will be reduced to button mashing mayhem. If this gameís controls could have came anywhere near the responsive wonderfulness of DOA3, this could have been a a great addition to the Xbox fighting game genre. As it is, only the most rabid of X-Men fans might want to consider picking up.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(January 2, 2003)

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