X-Men Legends (2004)
I remember when X-Men Legends came out, I heard it was a “dungeon crawler” and that was enough to put me off of it initially. I was never a fan of that type of gameplay, but it being a X-Men game, I was always a bit intrigued. I started playing it back in 2006 or so and thought it seemed good enough but never stuck with it. After coming back to it over a decade later, and spent over a year trying to get through it, I finally did and came away with a better appreciation for the series.
X-Men Legends basically is your classic story ripped almost out of the pilot of the cartoon. It’s about the X-Men finding a new mutant (her name is Alison/Magma in this one) and you try to stop Magneto from taking things too far and kill humans so mutants can take their rightful place as the superior race... as he usually does. Magma is voiced by Cree Summer, who does the voice of Suzie in Rugrats most famously. I really did enjoy the voice cast as they pull from both the X-Men cartoon and the movie cast as well. Patrick Stewart voices Professor X again, while Steven Blum reprises his wonderful Wolverine from the cartoons. This add a very good layer of legitimacy to the game, kinda like the Batman Arkham games. They just wouldn’t feel right with an all new cast.
The game itself is enjoyable, but quite dated from a gameplay mechanics and item management standpoint. Enemies will drop loot that you can change out and equip, but I regularly found myself having to drop tons of loot just to be able to pick up things I was coming across. The only way to sell it, is to Forge at a checkpoint which are few and far between. The layout of the levels too, can sometimes be a bit too hard to navigate and will allow you to lose your sense of direction quite frequently, and it’s a pain to backtrack due to how slow your characters move.
Other than getting a bit lost, and feeling like you are running through mud sometimes, the levels are fun, the story is interesting and being an X-Man and beating the crap out of bad guys is just super fun and enjoyable. The RPG aspect of picking how you want to distribute your XP is really fun and adds a layer to the gameplay. You can choose 4 characters at any given time and also upgrade their abilities to your playstyle.
I mainly stuck with Wolverine as my main with a few of my favorites as secondary characters, but around the halfway mark, I realized, I actually should switch out my characters a bit and that made the game much more fun. Enemies have strengths and weaknesses to certain types of characters and their powers. Once I swapped out my characters for appropriate ones for the task, I started tearing through enemies and levels like Logan’s claws through someone's face.
Near the end of the game, it started feeling a bit too long, and tedious though. The second to last level felt like it lasted a couple hours and started to actually sour me on the game a bit. The last level’s boss became so bogged down with wave after wave of enemies that just resorted to hitting me with the same knockback and freezing powers that started to get on my nerves. The game engine can only deal with so many characters on screen at a time, and with everyone using powers that have lots of visual effects and particles, the frame rate can drop to the tens at points.
X-Men Legends isn’t the best in the large series that Raven produced, but it was the first one, and it made games like the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series possible, and for that, it was absolutely worth seeing where the series got its start and hey, it’s X-Men, it’s going to be a fun time either way. Plus, it sets up the sequel quite nicely at the end that makes me want to just pop the next game in right away.