Review: X-Men Destiny
Action, Beat 'Em Up
Review copy provided by the publisher
Every great once in awhile we all spend days, weeks and months waiting to see whether a game is going to end up getting released or not. For awhile it looked like X-Men: Destiny was going to find itself in the latter group and I personally wasn’t sure what to think of that, as since the games announcement information has been scarce and infrequent. But lo and behold, the game was set to release and the fanfare turned up as commercials started airing frequently advertising it.
The X-Men franchise is a hard one to screw up no matter the format, yet somehow people keep messing them up whether it’s the horrible third movie, the canonically messy (though otherwise decent) First Class somehow something always falls out of place. Unfortunately, the same has to be said for this game.
X-Men: Destiny takes an interesting approach to a game starring some of Marvel’s most iconic characters by not letting you actually play as any of them. Instead you are given a choice between three new characters created just for the game during the first cut-scene in the game: a petite Japanese girl, an Affliction-wearing dude bro and a jock (clearly identified as such thanks to him carrying a football around for no good reason).
The choice you make is probably going to be based entirely on their appearance as at this point absolutely nothing is known about these characters. I chose Aimi, the Japanese girl, due to the fact that her character design was the least offensive to my senses. After this you choose your powers, and the story kicks into motion.
X-Men: Destiny sticks to the tried and true (read: played out and boring) angle of Mutant Rights using a “beat you over the head” approach to the story telling. You’re dumped in the middle of things with a news story recapping what has happened recently to get the world where it is: Xavier is dead, Magneto hates humans, and a lot of humans hate mutants.
From there things get less clear as the story advances. A key point of the game is choice as the title implies, the largest being choosing between joining Cyclops and the X-Men or Magneto and his Brotherhood. This all feels very strange and forced, as the choices always happen the same way: you come across a member of the X-Men and a member of the Brotherhood inexplicably hanging out right next to each other.
At this point they’ll both talk to you one at a time and you can make limited dialogue choices to find out their motivations and make a decision. I decided to stick with the X-Men from the beginning on every decision, though either choice resulted in the same thing: go here and beat up some thugs. The only change in gameplay was which person was hanging out with you at the time.
Speaking of beating up random thugs, you had better get used to it because that is the ONLY thing you will be doing the entire game. The game sticks to the tried and true beat ’em up formula of a light and heavy attack with various button combos. While you get to choose a power set at the beginning of the game, it just changes your attacks a little bit adding some variety to your arsenal (but not too much).
The controls are very solid and responsive, and I never had a problem pulling off exactly which combo I wanted to or attacking the enemy I was aiming for. In fact every technical aspect of the game is spot on, and I experienced no major issues or glitches through the entire game.
However all of that means nothing if you don’t do anything with it, and that’s the biggest problem with X-Men: Destiny. While there’s technically nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing right with it either. The story is muddy and confusing, with things often going unexplained.
One of the biggest disappointments regarding the choice between the X-Men and the Brotherhood is at the end of the day it doesn’t change anything other than some dialogue and which characters fight alongside you. One boss fight changes, but the end of the game still plays out exactly the same and it feels like nothing you’ve done up until that point mattered.
You can certainly do worse, but beating up faceless thugs for no good reason through the abysmally short five hour campaign isn’t my idea of fun. Though there are three characters to choose from and three choices of powers, as well as the X-Men or Brotherhood choices in campaign I felt no desire to return to the game.
Ultimately, X-Men: Destiny can be summed up quite simply. It’s most definitely not a bad game, but it’s just mediocre in absolutely every single aspect. For every positive aspect there’s an equally negative one, and every strong point the game earns is counterbalanced by some kind of frustration.