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X-Men: Next Dimension

Review By:  Andrew Joy

Developer:  EXAKT Entertainment
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Fighting
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  5-26-03

To understand X-Men: Next Dimensions, you may have to use your imagination a bit.  First, imagine your typical wrestling game, just with a more enveloping plot.  Next, if you will, add characters from acclaimed and top-selling comics from the Marvel Universe.  And, since you're at it, give every amazing character the awesome mutant power they display every month (or some equivalent in the case of Mystique and others like her).  Then, to finish it off, advertise your potential masterpiece using art from the best artists the comic world has to offer.  Sounds like an unquestionable success with all the right ingredients, when you put it all together, right?  Wrong, think again my deluded gaming companion.  You know, if I hadn't seen it happen so many times before, I would almost be amazed.

However, unfortunately, I have seen it happen many times before.  And, since I have, it is best to describe the many ways this game went wrong.  But first, some of the reasons I did award points to this game, just so you know I am not crazy.  They are listed below, but don't worry, this won't take long at all.

First off, the game does have some wonderful cinema attached to it, especially in the opening sequences of the game.  These cinemas are terribly misleading and, before you know it, you are plunged into some fairly mediocre graphics during the actual battles, though this is the least of the coming problems.

Next, I have to say that this game will appeal to some people, despite its shortcomings.  Obviously, this game has laid the bait out for the desperate X-Men fans, striving to survive to rampant run of Marvel, a company grasping at almost as many straws as its fans.  As for the other people, that would be comprised of most people from the wrestling world, or at least the ones looking for a little something extra in their games.  If that's the case, the game is just as I said, your typical brawler just with mutant powers, have fun!  This does, however, have sort of a stigmatism to it: As it happens, wrestling gamers are probably the only people equipped to handle the stagnant game play.  And, with that, we plunge right into the games lesser points, the more numerous ones.  These are pretty to the point and short, but I believe they make their point.

Aside from the said "stagnant game play," the game is run down by its use of catchphrases.  The catch phrases are different from each character, however each character has either just one or two, at the most. Such as Cyclops' "For a better tomorrow" and Wolverine's "I promise you, this is going to hurt."  And, on top of that, they say them at the beginning and at the end of every single round.  Believe me, this is more painful than it sounds.  The game also has the limited playing field often associated with typical fighting games and, to almost undermine the potential of all the next generation systems, the game struggles to remain seemingly two dimensional at all times.

As for the powers, which would typically be considered perhaps the most appealing allure to this title, the game simplifies, if not completely destroys, the nature of many of them.  Granted, it may be all in the name of supplying some sort of handicap, but you seriously insult the characters the game is based on as well as the people who play the game.   That is not the worst of it though.  In order to even activate the powers, in most cases, you must for battle with the controls of the game.  The controls are further proof this game is only for fans of this genre, useable only by adept fighting gamers.  Anyone else can quickly be lost in the controls and barely have time to execute one of the complicated button sequences before you are knocked on your little digital butt.

In closing, I feel the mention of the enveloping story of this review's opening should be clarified a bit more.  See, while it is much more than any typical wrestling game, it is severely lackluster in many, many ways and is in no way able to compare to the story in any X-Men comic book.  I can't imagine any comic writer for Marvel, at least any with some sense of self-respect, turning in such a disaster and being happy with it.  Take this comment to the lowest possible extent, but this story has no equal. Unless of course you are counting the horrible clone saga in Spider-Man.

Highs:

  • A game worthy of any fighting game fan, especially one looking for
    something extra.
  • X-Men license is attached; some characters even have their comic
    book powers.
  • Stunning opening cinemas, even if they are misleading.
  • Yet another landmark in comic story lows, this is equivalent to the Spider-Man clone saga!  Own a piece of comic book and gaming history.

Lows:

  • Games stagnant play and controls can only be handled by wrestling
    gamers.
  • Lackluster story line.
  • Many characters have had their powers altered to fit the game or, in some cases, replaced by weapons.
  • Lot of potential simply squandered.

Final Verdict:

A combination of every thing wrong combined with the potential for something so good.  This game is an insult to the gaming world and the fans of X-Men.  Their combination of horrible game play with a horrible story was only further destroyed when they tried to fix something that wasn't broke, the mutant powers.  And, for that, I think the makers of this game at least deserve a round of applause, if not a decent review. Let's hope EXAKT doesn't get up for a second round, "for a better tomorrow."

Overall Score: 2.5

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