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Videogames-To-Flix #15

05.31.2006

VIDEOGAMES-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column showcasing reviews of videogame translations of Hollywood films (or games soon-to-become Hollywood movies). With both industries getting closer and closer, and videogames, in general, getting so much more popular, you knew it was just a matter of time before we hit that stuff!

X-MEN 3: THE OFFICIAL GAME

BUY THIS GAME AT AMAZON.COM NOW!!!

Developer: Z-Axis
Publisher: Activision
Systems: XBOX 360, PC, PlayStation 2, XBOX, Game Cube, DS, GameBoy Advance

INTRODUCTION:

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the release of X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND. This summer blockbuster might be the final chapter in the series, unless there is money to be had. Without a doubt, this comic book adaptation also needs a video game tie-in, to squeeze more cash out of the hands of fanboys. X-MEN 3: THE OFFICIAL GAME is available for XBOX, PC, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, and the XBOX 360. This review is of the XBOX 360 version.

The story follows the X-Men after defeating Stryker at the end of X-MEN 2: X-MEN UNITED. This team of super powered mutants has to return to Alkali Lake to investigate some goings-on involving Sentinels, Jason Stryker, and a reborn Lady Deathstrike. The storyline fills you in on what happens to the X-Men between the second and third movie, just in case you were worried they took a nap.

GAMEPLAY:

In this adventure, you primarily play as Wolverine, Iceman, and Nightcrawler. Guest appearances are made by Storm and Colossus, but their use is negligible. The story splits into three interconnected pathways, one for each character. For Wolverine, gameplay is made up of one button mashing battle after another. Whenever you aren’t fighting a nameless Hydra soldier, you’re fighting a nameless ninja or having a boss battle with Sabretooth or Lady Deathstrike. For Nightcrawler, gameplay is a mix of stealth action, puzzle solving, and a small taste of button mashing. If you’ve ever played PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME, you’ll recognize how to play and succeed in the Nightcrawler levels. Finally, Iceman’s gameplay is a flight simulator variant with some sporadic action elements.

While I support the approach Activision took to the variance in gameplay, I cannot support their actual implementation. The Wolverine levels in this game are pathetic. In order to defeat a Wolverine level, you will be required to slaughter 20-100 faceless enemies in succession. All of the enemies have one or two differing moves and tactics. Therefore, Wolverine has one or two differing moves to defeat them. What is interesting for about five minutes becomes obnoxious after several hours. The ridiculous repetition in this game is most offensive failure of the gameplay.

Wolverine isn’t alone in this failure. While Nightcrawler’s teleportation trick is fun and innovative, the rest of his gameplay is overdone repetition. The puzzles on his levels are pretty standard and don’t inspire much creativity. For Iceman, flying is often a chore. The controls are shaky and won’t have you excited to revisit his levels. The only joy I had with this character was recreating the Death Star run from RETURN OF THE JEDI. Do you think I’m kidding? This “homage” showed such an obvious lack of original thought, even the cut scene stole from STAR WARS.

Overall, gameplay was a failure because it lacked variation. While all three characters varied, what they had to do on each level was monotonous. Throw in some major camera issues (primarily with Wolverine) and you have a substandard experience.

Gameplay: 6.0/10

GRAPHICS:

Because I am reviewing the XBOX 360 version of this game, there is an expectation of higher quality graphics. If they expect you to pay an extra $20 for the XBOX 360 version, there better be some kind of extra value. Compared to all of the pretty games available for the XBOX 360, X-MEN 3: THE OFFICIAL GAME fails to meet the high definition standards. Next to OBLIVION, TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON ADVANCED WARFIGHTER, and PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 3, this game looks years behind the curve.

While the graphics in X-MEN 3: THE OFFICIAL GAME fail to impress, it is the game engine’s inability to render character movement and placement that really stands out. This is a mixture of graphical ineptness and poor gameplay construct. On missions involving Wolverine, camera movement is limited and level exploration is restricted. An imaginary wall separates Wolverine from walking up steps to the Statue of Liberty. Not rubble, not boxes, just air keeps you from climbing a simple set of stairs. That is unacceptable and lazy level design. Static camera placement forces you to play in a limited space and Wolverine can actually run into the camera itself. Lazy.

Finally, the graphics of X-MEN 3: THE OFFICIAL GAME’s cut scenes are laughable. Instead of full motion CGI, the designers went for some weird animated static image mess. What does that mean? Imagine that Patrick Stewart is talking to you, but his mouth isn’t moving. His body is sliding around like a third grader’s puppet show, but his lips still aren’t moving. This design is embarrassing and a waste of the voice talent involved.

If you are looking for next generation graphics, go elsewhere.

Graphics: 4.0/10

AUDIO:

After the graphical failings of this game, you might wonder how Audio could fall short. Although the audio isn’t as bad, you’ll notice some fascinating inconsistencies. Being the Official Game for X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND, this game was afforded voice talent from the movie. That sounds good right? Sure, until you realize that some of the key players are absent.

According to some press releases, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Alan Cumming all contributed their voices. While Jackman and Stewart come through prominently, Cumming’s work has either been replaced or he phoned it in. Gone is Cumming’s outstanding work in X-MEN 2: X-MEN UNITED. In it's stead is an emotionless piss-poor German accent. Not that Jackman or Stewart performs on a much higher level. Overall the voice acting is below standard and embarrassing for any actor, especially these big names.

Even more interesting, are the voices that replace prominent movie stars. There is no sign of Halle Berry, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, or Ian McKellen. Magneto’s voice actually sounds like Patrick Stewart attempting to cover for McKellen. Overall, the use of voice actors in this game does not make watching the awful cut scenes more palatable.

The sound effects in this game are the standard fare and don’t add more to the game experience. They also aren’t a distraction, so I guess the sound effects do their job.

Audio: 5.5/10

FINAL VERDICT:

There really is no reason to buy this game. If you have to or if you are desperate for some more Achievement points, this game might be something you rent. Spend your hard earned cash on something else, like movie tickets or a nice Father’s Day gift. This game is an embarrassment to Marvel Comics, the X-MEN, and all of the talent involved.

OVERALL SCORE: 5.2/10

STATUS OF THE MOVIE:

This movie is now in theaters. Rumors of sequels and spin-offs are rampant.

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