Although were only a few months out from the most recent X-Men film, X-Men First Class, the latest X-Men game, titled X-Men Destiny and set for release at the end of the month, bucks the trend of film tie-ins by, well, having nothing to do with the film at all. Instead, were treated to an all new storyline, and the chance to play as one of a trio of entirely new mutants, whore only just starting to discover their special powers.
With a story written by noted Marvel author Mike Carey, X-Men Destiny, the game picks things up in the future, where Professor Xavier is dead, and his school for the mutants has been disbanded. Things open on a peace rally in California, which has been put on in an attempt to bring the mutants, and a group known as the Purifiers, who are vehemently opposed to the mutants, together. As may be expected, all doesnt go to plan, and theres a clash between the mutants and the purifiers with three important characters stuck in the middle.
Right at the beginning of X-Men Destiny, you get to choose the character you want to play as from a choice of three. Although they all play through mostly the same storyline, each character will take their own path, and make their own decisions although youre in control of the first one. When things go haywire at the meeting, standing in the crowd are three plucky teenager Grant Alexander, an All-American jock, who only came to the rally to hit on the girls; Adrian Luca, the son of a Pacifier who was killed by a mutant; and Aimi Yoshida, a girl who was smuggled out of Japan by her mutant parents as the war between the mutants and the pacifiers heated up. Like most mutants, these three only realise their powers when a special event happens in this case, the rally going haywire only this time, you get to choose the power you want to have.
Given a choice of three at the beginning of the game, you can choose between Destiny Control, which basically turns you into a giant rock, and makes you tough, Energy Projection, which lets you fire plasma and lightning bolts, while the third one, Shadow Matter, lets you create weapons (like swords) out of thin air.
The game, for the most part, is a fairly standard beat em up, only with the added bonus of your fancy mutant powers adding to the mix. Although theres a fairly serious storyline behind things, its obvious X-Men Destiny is a game that doesnt take itself too seriously, as smashing your way through enemies, or defeating several enemies at once causes giant words to appear on the ground, proclaiming your greatness (or how badly you suck) to the world - or at least the people sitting nearby.
As you progress through the game, and level your character up, youll unlock new combos, which you perform by pressing a series of buttons although here, too, theres a bit of a twist. Each combo, whether its a straight out punch punch kick, or a special power, can be linked together with other combos in different ways. For example, one of the basic moves puts up a wall to protect you from attacks but if you jump up in the air, and perform the combo, youll basically drop a wall on your opponents, whichll work like a frag grenade. Even more impressive is a move that, when you do it the way youre told, sends out a wave that throws your enemies away, but if you perform the combo backwards, youll suck the bad guys into the middle. Youre not told how to do this, but the developers hope that itll give you something to experiment with as you play along. It certainly had us interested.
After something of a trial by fire, youre thrust into the middle of the storyline war between the Brotherhood (the bad guys) and the X-Men, each of whom are vying for your newfound powers. At times, the action breaks off, and youll be able to converse with the mutants, choosing what you want to say from a list of options, letting you either find out more about the story, or fob them off, if youd rather send a message. Things build to a head, and eventually, youll have to make a choice between which side you take and theres more to your decision than just a tick box. Should you find yourself getting into trouble in combat, youll find friendly mutants drop into help you out whether its Quicksilver for the X-Men, or Juggernaut for the Brotherhood, the idea here is that you dont feel like youre alone out there after making your decision, they want you to feel like part of the team. The downside here is that the game doesnt do co-op, and is an entirely single player experience which, as an X-Men game, we were kind of hoping for.
Like most games, scattered throughout X-Men: Destinys levels are a number of collectibles, which, should you get enough, unlock artwork, achievements, and all the usual stuff but they can also be used to unlock X-Men suits, which give you that X-Mans power. An example we were given was if you unlock Blazes suit, punching people will set them on fire you can only imagine the possibilities.
The disappointing lack of co-op aside, X-Men Destiny is shaping up to be a pretty accomplished beat em up, with a number of new ideas to keep you going. With a pretty deep combo and customisation system, an involving storyline, and the ability to choose wait for it your own destiny, X-Men Destiny is shaping up to be one Marvel lovers will want to keep a close eye on. Its down for release at the end of the month well bring you a review then.