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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Or, "Nightcrawler And Friends", 8 July 2009
This review is from: X-Men The Official Game (PS2) (Video Game)
Taking place between the second and third X-Men movies, and dealing with why Nightcrawler isn't in the latter, The Official Game might seem a rather all-purpose title for something so specific. And it is. This game is certainly not going to provide you with an overview of the X-Men and their world. (If that's what you want, I recommend X-Men Legends.) Instead, it's an occasionally enjoyable tie-in with splashes of promise and great big dollops of disappointment.

The action is split between three characters, and their stories mesh slightly. First, and best, is Nightcrawler. The mechanics of Nightcrawler are dazzling. His teleporting ability is easy to get the hang of and fun to use. In fact, more thought has gone into how Nightcrawler moves and fights than any other aspect of the game. A common complaint is that the character never went on to have his own game. There's clearly a market for it, and frankly, the other two characters just feel like unnecessary filler.

Filler, really, sums up anything to do with Wolverine. His levels involve running headlong into heavily armed bad guys and then healing when he gets the time. There is no strategy. The process of getting beaten up, and then having to recouperate, is repetitive and boring. Still, this is Wolverine, and it's always reasonably fun to send him barrelling into a frenzy of carnage. It's just something most gamers have done a lot, with Wolverine showing up in every single X-Men release, and other games. His levels are bland.

Iceman brings up the rear. Zooming around on an ice slide (which he never does in the films) may sound like a neat idea, but it's just awkward. He has to move constantly, falling off causes a lot of damage, and it's difficult to steer. Bottom line, it's no fun. They could have picked anybody from the films, and I have no idea how they settled on the most boring character.

What really works, obviously, is anything to do with Nightcrawler. But even that's not perfect, as some villains can block your attacks, and teleporting is dependant on where you're looking (using the R3 button), which sounds like they really thought it through, but mostly means you have to spend an annoying amount of time wiggling Nightcrawler's point of view, or you'll just zip back and forth.

Another problem, applying to all three characters, is the difficulty level. It changes at random. Taking on three or four Sentinels is easy, but soldiers are not. Wolverine can handle anything on one level, then be brutally slain in the next. It's irritatingly inconsistent, and often very frustrating.

Also, there's the cut scenes. Rather than animation, we have weird, floating 2D pictures. The effect is jarringly like watching a very cheap cartoon, and although it's possibly been done as a stylistic choice, it just looks like they ran out of money.

The voice acting is hit and miss. While almost everybody from the films has returned to reprise their role - Storm and Colossus are noticeably different - they're not all trying very hard. Hugh Jackman sounds horribly out of character as an overly pally and helpful Wolverine. Hearing him talk Iceman through a training routine is like hearing Hugh Jackman order his breakfast.

I'd recommend The Official Game simply so you can enjoy the Nightcrawler levels. They're that good. Unfortunately there aren't that many of them - and aren't many levels for anybody, come to think of it, although the balance is tipped unfairly towards Wolverine - and there's not a lot of replay value. You can level the three characters up, but to keep doing that you'll need to face higher difficulties, which reaches a point where it isn't fun any more. (Also, once you've done medium difficulty there's often no need to do the higher one, which is odd.)

Still, good bits aside, this is seriously patchy stuff. The X-Men have been treated a lot better on the PS2, and if you do buy this, you should do so on the cheap. Fun at first, over too quickly, and pretty gruelling by the end.

NB: In truth it's worth two and a half stars, but they don't do half stars on Amazon, so you'll just have to imagine it.
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