Review: X-Men: Destiny

It's 2021 so why wouldn't there be a new review for the uncanny X-Men: Destiny? You may have never heard of this X-Men action RPG game from Silicon Knights and why is that? Is it too astonishing? Is it too incredible? The simple answer is no. The longer answer is revealed within the words of this review.

I sometimes suffer from a rare mental disorder called gaming masochism. It's when I look at the worst games I own (or could own) and play them until I can't take it anymore. The guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax have a similar brain malfunction but with movies. I've played quite a few insufferable games in my past, but usually not to completion. And I'm certainly not finishing them more than once. What made me desire to suffer agonizing, hellish pain? One was for this review and another was so I could have my 161st Platinum trophy as "Homo Superior". But there's nothing superior about X-Men: Destiny except that a team of developers were paid by Activision to make this.

X-Men: Destiny gives you a character selection choice between three newly designed X-Men that can be summed up as Density Man (the power to punch hard), Shadow Man (the power to move quickly), and Energy Woman (the power to copy Jubilee from the real X-Men). Throughout the game, you'll hit the same combination of keys through color variants of the same few enemies for 4 to 6 hours. Every now and again, a meter will charge up which allows you to use one of a very few skills that practically do nothing of great important until the end game.

As mentioned before, X-Men: Destiny is an action role-playing game with standard XP, loot (or X-Genes), and a skill tree for your selected mutant. Yet somehow this game manages to miss the mark with making a decently fun RPG in the X-Men universe. I mention there's loot but really it's just a set of unlocks for doing activities. If you help Juggernaut in a challenge, you get his boots. If you find the clearly not-so-hidden white flashy object on your way through the linear mazes, you'll get some costume or junk collectible. All of them are just generic skill points that  hardly affect the gameplay. I couldn't tell a difference between any of them the entire three times I finished this heap of a game. The skill tree isn't truly a skill tree as much as a way to show you which abilities you've unlocked during your cursed journey. By the end of the game, you'll get your ultimate special which is the only good way to play the game since it makes everything so incredibly effortless you could accidentally drop the controller and kill everything on the screen.

Outside of the combat, you run around a crime infested, half-ruined San Francisco not too alien from today's poop filled streets of San Francisco. You run from point A to point B until the chapter ends. And in between that pathway, you get to fight a few waves of enemies and listen to the crappy story that doesn't interest anyone (thanks, Mark Carey). Sometimes you'll get to do a side mission for certain X-Men or the Brotherhood fiends which consists of you loading into a small battle arena, punching about 30 or more guys and being rewarded with "Mission Complete" and a maybe some new threads. And that's about all there is to the game. It's so monotonous that it even informs you when you've entered a combat area and how many enemies are left.

If the game featured some form of multi-player, I might have had some fun with it. Drunken fun. But it couldn't even be bothered with anything interesting.

Sometimes games have snappy mechanics to help guide the player on rails to get from point A to point B. In X-Men: Destiny, they avoid those useful mechanics. Jumping on a railing to climb up a wall sometimes became the most infuriating part of the experience because randomly he wouldn't jump up towards the new platform. He would jump up and toward the camera so I'd fall off the side of a ledge. Of all the goofy things I ran into, this annoyance happened very frequently. Towards chapter 6 you're forced to climb a lot of obstacles and I would spend half my time recovering from a fall. It's a good way to end up rage quitting the game is you managed to make it half way through.

If you're playing on any difficulty, the game can be pretty brutal and that's because it rewards your hard work of button mashing with cheap shots that can one hit kill you. On the hardest difficulty, I must have died 20-30 times from shots I couldn't trace to who they came from or where. There's no indication you've been hit a lot of the times. I couldn't tell if that was a glitch or a feature.

The bosses are all over the place too. There's a couple of them that I had fun fighting against and it's because they kept the challenges interesting enough. You might be fighting a giant beast that you need to figure out his attack patterns to learn the dodges, or you might fight a guy that runs faster than the framerate allows and hits you a couple of times until you've died. The trick in all the boss fights is to quit the game and play something else.

I've played through this game three times and I barely remember what happened because it's not only an unfun game, it's an even more uninteresting game. But after reading some wiki articles for jogging the noggin, I can give you a brief break down and then tell you why it's a mess.

Professor X is dead and San Francisco is holding a peace rally in a divided city where mutants and humans can't get along. Purifiers (which look like Antifa terrorists) attack the peaceful protest and they introduce the player to the three mutants that are unaware of their powers which are they characters you'll choose from. The Purifiers' leader, Cameron Hodge, slaps on a mech costume and the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants are forced to chase him around a war-torn San Francisco until he's found.

And big spoiler alert, he's eventually found after about 8 or 9 short length chapters.

This is an RPG so choices matter but they matter about as much as a TellTale Game. The only thing that really changes is the ending and some of the combat challenges since two of them rely on which faction you sided with. Ironically enough, none of the faction choices matter until you have your first encounter with Hodge. It's just another stupid system in this dumpster fire.

The story would be scored a little higher but on my second playthrough I realized how idiotic the entire storyline is. If you play as Density Man, you are a kid on a high school football team that realizes his powers when trying to save a few people from danger. Density Man runs into the X-Men during this opening attack and they have him run through the city looking for Hodge and fighting off the evil Purifiers. In the matter of minutes, your character manages to impress the X-Men  so much that they have you fight the main boss with them acting as a side act. But you're an unlearned teen that discovered his powers within the hour. Either Professor X was the only thing keeping any type of sanity with the X-Men or the writing sucks.

Today's world we have PC gamers arguing over 60 frames per second and 120+ frames per second. Console gamers arguing 30 frames per second over 60 frames per second. In film, 24 frames per second is the standard. X-Men: Destiny is on another level. I don't have anything outside of my eyes and senses to explain what I experienced, but I'm pretty sure this game runs near 20 fps for the most part and dips below 10 fps at times. That's the biggest issue I have with the graphics. It's unbearable to play through this at times or watch the cutscenes because the framerate isn't keeping up with the slow pacing of the game. 

If you can ignore the awful frames per second like I did, you're not trading it off for some visual wonder on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. You're trading low frame rate for low quality textures and passable character models. The textures are muddy and I swear some of the "textures" aren't even textures. Everything lacks detail outside of character models. On top of not looking good, the look of the feel repeats itself through most of the game. It's just a boring city and sewer game with minimum art work put in. Ironic coming from a comic book game. From chapter one onward, you'll experience the same color palette and the same resistance or propaganda posters on every wall; the same debris; the same busted cars. And the same very few enemies they decided to model rather that palette switch.

At the very least I can offer a positive in graphics and that goes to the design of the main characters. Most of them don't look half-bad for being a 10 year old game. And there was one boss that didn't look too bad. The problems with the characters are the animations. I mostly played with Destiny Man and his animations are hilarious in an unprofessional way. There's scenes that I felt were animated by top-notch animator for YouTube, Really3D.

The sound team is getting the thumbs up because they managed to make sounds that came out of my speakers and they didn't hurt my ears, unlike the graphics team which hurt my eyes and gave me a splitting headache. The music is forgettable and the sounds are repetitive. The real reason I liked the sounds more than almost everything else is that some of the voice acting wasn't complete utter crap. It's the most enjoyable part of the experience. So, bravo sound team! Gambit sounded like he was from Louisiana and that's winning you the golden trophy for this turd.

There was a point of playing this I thought I was having fun. It's when I first launched the game and was entertained by the first brief level. It was simple, but I was running into familiar X-Men faces. My brain raced with the ideas of where this brawler RPG would take me and that gave me some joy is my now defeated heart.

No, I didn't have a lot of fun playing this at all. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, this will be the longest part of my life.

I clearly didn't enjoy X-Men: Destiny. I can play old games and still find a lot of interesting ideas behind them, even take in the graphics and sounds from the day, and suffer through some older gameplay mechanics. But even for it's time, X-Men: Destiny would have rated the same for me. It's a generic brawler with X-Men slapped on the cover. Did the marketing work? I bought it so I'd say so. Do I regret it? As a gamer with somewhat limited time I do, but as as gaming masochist, not at all. It was a fun heaping of brain melt that I could write a ranting review about.

If I had one solid thing to say about it I can say that the game never once crashed. It's a frustrating experience to play through this game but if you want to be "Homo Superior" you just keep trucking on.

Oh, and if you want to hear a great piece of gaming history about this game, read about the Epic Games and Silicon Knights lawsuit. It's great stuff!

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About DryvBy

The best thing about running your own website is that no one can tell you what to do. Also, video games are awesome.
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