Not long after I saw X-Men the movie, I found this game at the local video-game store for the PlayStation console. Being a fairly big fan(not just of the movie; I had been reading X-Men for a while, and I knew and liked the characters long before I heard of the movie being made), I immediately bought it and went home to play right away. I fairly quickly beat it, and kept playing until I had unlocked everything in the game. And now, about four or five years later, here I am, reviewing it. This game is great. It succeeds in just about everything it attempts to do. It brings the universe of the movie and the universe of the comics together, so that no fans are alienated. I suppose it does not offer much introduction into the world of X-Men, but hey, if you're playing this or considering to do so, you're either a fan looking for an authentic experience, or someone who plays fighting games and doesn't care which characters you're fighting or fighting as, or where they're from. It gives a relatively unique fighting game experience, with even a few features no one else seems to have thought of(I quite liked the counter-strike). There's no real plot as such... you're just given control over these mutant heroes(and later on, villains) and you fight your way(though it can hardly be claimed unusual for these characters to fight, which is precisely why this game really hits the spot) through a total of ten characters. Yep, ten. All ten of which you can select to fight with. The ten are as follows: Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Gambit, Phoenix, Storm, Mystique, Sabretooth, Toad and Magneto. All of them have unique powers and attacks, making for some intense, challenging(you can't fight the same way against two different enemies, especially not if you intend to last very long) and surprisingly well-rounded and fair fights. Some of them can shoot, some of them can jump far, some move fast, some can attack the enemy from one end of the level to another... but all are fair, no one is overly powerful(unlike, say, Tekken 3(another fighting game that I do, admittedly, rather enjoy)... Bryan, anyone?). Most of the powerful attacks are fairly easy combinations, making it entirely possibly to remember and, to great effect, use them in combat. There's a training ground(based in... yep, you guessed it... The Danger Room). It's divided in two parts... Academy Training and Independent Study. The first is basically Professor X guiding you in a fixed order through all of the attacks at your disposal, while the second is, as you may have guessed from the name, a chance to simply train by yourself, against an immobile dummy enemy(who you can have jump or crouch, to practice attacking enemies as they do such). There are some cool slow-motion effects(Wolverine's kick-based throw move? *Beautiful*) in some combos and every time you win a fight, you get a nice slo-mo view of your opponent falling down(Replays? We don't need no stinkin' replays!). Every character has three costumes, the usual comic one, the movie one(even those who weren't in the movie, an adequate idea of what they would have looked like) and a third one... for the fans to unlock and recognize. The level design is excellent, with quite a few references to popular, well-known and famous(as well as infamous) locations from the comics and some very, very nice backgrounds with impressive level of detail. Every fight opens with both fighters entering the scene in a fashion that seems logical for them(Storm flies in, Wolverine jumps in and slashes his claws at the camera). There are some cool camera angles for many of the special combos, making it even more intense and giving it a cinematic feel. Every fighter has three throws(one even has four), and they're all pretty darn cool, if you ask me. All the characters are dead-on as far as personality and fighting style goes(Beast is intelligent and uses his physique to great advantage, Wolverine fights like a cat-like animal, etc.). The fighters can even taunt each other! The voice acting is pretty much perfect throughout. I can't think of a character I'd have changed the voice or acting of. Apart from regular fighting and the aforementioned training, there's also a Survival mode, which is pretty basic... fighting as many enemies in a row as you can, only gaining a little health between fights. Then there's Cerebro Mode... which really isn't a mode at all, but rather a base for all the cool things you can unlock. Things like trailers, pictures from the comics, extra costumes and such. This makes the game last much, much longer than otherwise(and than most other fighting games do). Gameplay is great, sound is superb(the music in particular) and the game is just pretty much spot-on with everything. There are plenty of cut-scenes, all of which are gorgeously rendered, and the ones you need to unlock are usually worth it. They often reference the comics, without it being in the dictionary-type "let's just fill the game with random references and trivia" way that X-Men Legends II: The Rise of Apocalypse kinda sorta *really* was. In fact, all of the references are skilfully implemented, none feel as if they were simply put there to draw in the fans(which, obviously, is their main purpose, that and satisfying us demanding comic book geeks). The biggest issues with this game are the low number of fighters(though everyone in the game, in turn, is perfectly well-rounded, neither too strong or too weak) and the somewhat odd controls compared to the usual fighting games(like the Tekken series, for example). But what characters there are, are great, and you get used to the controls. Neither of those complaints stop this from being a great game. I recommend this to any fan of X-Men, no matter where your interest in them stems from(movie, comic, TV-series, mental projections, whatever) and any fan of fighting games. 8/10
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