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X-Men Destiny Review

Susan Arendt | 7 Oct 2011 14:47
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X-Men Destiny gets a lot of things wrong. It's only four hours long. It's ugly. The platforming is a joke. The story is absurd. All of which could be forgiven, to a certain extent, if Destiny wasn't also mind-numbingly boring. If I'm idly wondering what's new on Netflix as I'm fighting giant robots and shooting lightbeams from my hands, something has gone very, very wrong with your game.

Destiny begins shortly after Professor X and Magneto came out on the losing end of a showdown with an AI named Bastion. Xavier is dead, Magneto's missing, and a series of natural disasters have the human population on edge. A group called the Purifiers wants to wipe mutants off the planet, which is unfortunate for you, since you just came into your powers. You play as one of three characters, and begin your adventure by selecting one of three kinds of power you'd like wield. Though each character has their own backstory, they all play pretty much the same, except for the source of their individual angst.

Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants is believed to be behind the disruption of the peace rally that opens the game, but the main enemy you'll face in Destiny are squads of Purifiers, ordinary humans who consider it a moral imperative to rid the world of mutants. You'd think, given the relative difficulty of that particular goal, they'd come armed with more than shock batons and their bare fists, but apparently they're not the best tacticians. Though a handful of Purifiers bring flamethrowers to the party, for the most part you'll just be bashing your way through wave after wave of poorly-armed thugs.

You start with just a basic attack based on the power you chose when you selected your character, but you'll earn new abilities as you progress through the game, and the experience points you earn can be used to give your powers some extra oomph. The more advanced powers are interesting and feel like they were pulled right from the pages of a comic book, but you'll hardly ever use them. Mashing away on your two combat buttons is all you'll need to make it through the game. You can dodge or jump if you want to spice things up, and even do a ground pound if you're feeling sassy, but you don't really have to. Just keep hitting those two buttons, and unless they get stuck on the architecture, the Purifiers will line up to let you kill them.

You have your own mutant powers, but you'll also find mutant genes as you investigate the conspiracy at the heart of Destiny. The ability to mix and match powers from characters like Juggernaut, Emma Frost, Avalanche, Cyclops, and Northstar is a fantastic concept, but unfortunately once you actually collect a few genes, you realize that they do pretty much the same things. Almost all of the utility genes make you run faster; whether you're doing that by making the ground vibrate or jumping like toad, the end result is the same. Your attacks don't behave any differently if you equip Psylocke's psi damage or Gambit's kinetic damage, which makes choosing one less about strategy and more about personal taste. If you equip a suit and three genes that match - all of Wolverine's, for example - you gain a character-specific superpower with a great description but that actually achieves very little in practice.

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