Developer: Silicon Knights
by: Marc "DjinniMan" Allie
If there was a person predestined to enjoy X-Men: Destiny, it would be me. I learned to read by pouring over my aunt’s comic collection, including the classic X-Men comics of the late 1970s. I am a fan of most of the X-Men movies and TV shows, too. Generally speaking, the X-Men video games have been among my favorites, and I thought developer Silicon Knights’ previous title, Too Human, was vastly underrated. Thus, you would think that I would like X-Men Destiny.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. In almost every area, X-Men Destiny is greatly flawed, from the ugly graphics to the boring, repetitive gameplay, and the dull, totally non-compelling narrative.
The story, such as it is, has a promising beginning. The game begins at a peace rally set in the divided city of San Francisco. Professor X has died, and tensions between mutants and the anti-mutant Purifiers are at the tipping point. Three heroes are available to select, including a Japanese mutant refugee, a clueless college football hopeful, and the son of a fallen Purifier (is it still irony when it’s obvious?) who has been trained to fight mutants. At the rally, fighting breaks out and the player’s mutant abilities trigger. You meet the noble X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in short order, and interact with both sides throughout the adventure.
The key conceit to X-Men Destiny is that you have many choices to make, and each one has a large impact on how events in the story play out. In theory, this choose your own adventure style narrative sounds great, but in practice, your choices seem to make very little difference. Very few elements change at all, other than a few bits and pieces of dialogue here and there. Even your choice of character means next to nothing.
Another issue with choices is the tremendous lack of variety in mutant powers. Each of the three protagonists have the same options available to them: tank-friendly density control, ranged combat energy projection, or agile, melee based “shadow matter” powers. These three tracks are all you can choose from, and I found this very frustrating. If you can’t play as your favorite X-Men, you should at least be able to totally customize your character. Having only three sets of powers is a horrific oversight for a game that is supposed to be all about choices.
The combat system is overly simplistic; simple button mashing will serve you quite well. Enemies are generic and repetitive, and you will fight the same Purifier bad guys over and over again. Even the environments are monotonous. You will tire of seeing the burning ruins of San Francisco ad nauseum. Graphically, the game is horrendous, one of the worst looking games I’ve seen this generation. Character models in cut scenes are particularly bad, almost disturbing to look at.
X-Men Destiny is a terrible game. After playing for only a few hours, I couldn’t bring myself to continue. It’s easy to see why the game snuck onto the release schedule without much fanfare. It’s as if Activision and Silicon Knights knew they had a lemon on their hands. If you want a good X-Men experience, get a copy of both X-Men Legends games instead and avoid this absolute stinker.