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X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse

Developer: Raven Software | Publisher: Activision
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 09/20/05 | Genre: Action/RPG

When I first heard about X-Men Legends, I was very excited. This was the first X-Men game that actually allowed players to use the various Mutant powers at any time. It seemed too good to be true. When the title was released, it stayed in my GameCube for months and months. Although I loved the original, I was a little skeptical when X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse was announced. Why? Because 9 times out of 10 sequels aren't as good as the original. Thankfully, Raven Software not only knows how to make a good quality game... they also know how to make a sequel.

To have good guy mutant powers and kick bad guy bootie... awesome. To have the good guy and the bad guy powers. . . even cooler. To have all those powers at my fingers at home, in the car, anywhere... priceless. X-Men Legends II combines sworn enemies, the X-Men and the Brotherhood, together to defeat Apocalypse, a threat so great that it will take the combined forces of the two groups to defeat. This unusual pairing allows you to choose from twenty different playable characters (Magneto, Wolverine, Storm, Juggernaut, Toad, Cyclops, and many more) Now you can put together your favorite good and evil characters to make the strongest mutant team possible. And you can take them with you on your PSP!

Basically X-Men legends II is a typical hack n'slash adventure game supped up with mutant powers. Your team consists of four mutants, that you choose, each with their own special attacks and abilities. Combat is fairly similar to the first game. Movement is assigned to the analog stick, and a few basic attacks and a jump are appointed to the ∆, O, and X buttons. Special attacks and moves can be performed by pressing and holding the right shoulder button in conjunction with one of the face button. In some points of the game you are required to get to the other side of a chasm. If you have the right mutant you can do this with ease. For instance, Magneto can use his power to bring scrap metal together to create a bridge, while Iceman can make an ice bridge with ease. Storm can form a tornado to put out fires, and iceman can freeze the fire out. You control only one character at a time, but you can switch between the four by simply pressing the left shoulder button and a direction on the d-pad that corresponds with your mutant.

The action is viewed from above, as in the last game, as you fight your way through several different locations from the X-Men universe. Some of the locations are: Genosha, The Savage Land, The Weapon X Facility and many more. As in X-Men Legends there are some role playing elements to the game. You can upgrade your abilities, learn new special attacks, and collect and equip a different suits, arm bands and utility belts. If you don't get a kick out of keeping track of all that stuff you can actually let the CPU automatically do the work for you by pressing the O button. One new feature is the blink portal. This is where you can ask blink (who is a new mutant introduced in the game) to create a portal where you are back to your main base. This way at anytime in the game you can head back to your base save the game, or stock up on new equipment or even change your team. After one use of the blink portal you have to wait for a certain amount of time to use it again. There's nothing earth-shattering different about the game play, but the combined story, exciting combat, and comic book visuals all come together to create a great adventure.

In most games, when you have one or more team members that are computer controlled, they usually end up running in place towards a wall or falling off of a cliff or getting fried by incoming laser blasts. (In other words... really bad A.I.) In X-Men Legends II, your comrades will attack effectively and even heal themselves when needed. You can even customize the settings to have your long range or weaker members hang back at a safe distance. It's not like playing with your buddy and experiencing mutant mayhem with a friend... but it's pretty good.

That leads to multiplayer. X-Men Legends II not only supports four player co-op play via ad-hoc, but also co-op play online. We all know that the online support that PSP games have had are few and far between. So it's pretty cool that developers took some additional time to include the same level of support that the console versions had for multiplayer. There is a little bit of lag when playing online, and if your online buddies get impatient with you picking up power ups here and there they tend wander off and then the camera zooms really out really far. Those things aside, though and this is a pretty good online multiplayer game for the PSP.

X-Men Legends II looks great on the small screen. The characters are very detailed right down to Wolverine's adamantium claws. Each character is beautifully cell shaded that makes you feel like you are playing a comic book. You can even change each team member's costume. If you have unlocked the right ones you can pair them together for attack bonuses. For example, you can change each of your mutant team to their Age of Apocalypse Costume for a 100% attack bonus. The environments are large, colorful, and filled with plenty of stuff to destroy. The mission levels do seem to get a little repetitive as you play but are nicely broken up with very impressive CG movies. There are also times when the action on screen gets a little too chaotic and it gets a little confusing with what's going on. With your 4 person team, multiple enemies, and a bunch of explosions, and laser blasts on screen, it's tough to figure out who's doing what, where your character is, and where the baddies are. I tend to quickly move to Nightcrawler and teleport out of those situations till I can take on what I can handle.

Rise of Apocalypse features a very impressive soundtrack. For the most part it is background music but the volume increases a tad when a boss battle breaks out. The voice acting is very good, which goes without saying when Captain Jean Luc-Picard is Professor X (sorry it's really Patrick Stewart, but I can't help but calling him Picard). Some of voices are a little cheesy, but for the most part, they fit the game nicely, I mean. . it is a comic book game. There is also a plethora of sound effects in Legends II, with the sounds of punches, kicks, grunts, explosions, and things smashing filling the air at all times.

All in all this is a great game. Raven and Vicarious Visions did a great job in bringing this title from its console version to the small screen. If you own one of the console versions I don't know if you would want to play through the PSP version because they are so similar. For me, to have the power of the X-Men in the palm of my hand and to be able to play multiplayer with a friend anywhere is a wonderful thing. I give X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse an A for a great gaming experience.

By Michael Toller - 11/26/05
ESRB Details: Mild Language, Violence
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Screenshots for X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse

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