X-Men Legends Hands-On

We take a close look at this action RPG set in the X-Men universe.

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Considering the team-oriented nature of the X-Men, it's a wonder no one has ever thought to do a role-playing game based on the popular Marvel comic series. Now the time has come, and Activision is developing X-Men Legends, an action RPG that lets you take control of the famous team of mutants in a variety of different team-based missions. We got to take a look at an early build of the game at E3, and we were quite impressed with what we saw.

You begin the game at the Xavier mansion, which serves as your base of operations during the game. The mansion is fairly big, with numerous rooms and floors to explore. You will also find yourself running into fellow X-Men, whom you can converse with and even gain mission info from. Though a few missions will require only one or two characters, X-Men Legends largely features a four-player style of gameplay throughout the majority of the game. Fifteen selectable X-Men will be available, but only a handful of them will be playable from the start. You will be able to easily switch between characters during the game, with the CPU taking control of the rest of your team. The game will feature a co-op mode for up to four players, but no online play.

At the beginning of each mission, you will choose your team from the selectable characters list. Each character will have two specific listings of stats, one being a general list that all the X-Men have, and one that is character-specific, regarding that mutant's abilities. In the general category, the variable stats will be strength, speed, body, and mind. These stats can be upgraded using experience points gained in battle. The character-specific stats depend on what the chosen mutant's power is. For example, if you choose Iceman, you will be able to upgrade stats based on his various ice attacks, and with Storm, you can upgrade several different weather-related attacks.

Though you can choose any of the playable X-Men for missions, some characters will be better in certain types of missions than others. Colossus, for instance, is perfectly suited to heavy battle sequences, due to his size and strength, whereas a character like Jean Grey, who relies more on intelligence and agility, would be better for more puzzle-oriented missions. This is not to say Colossus couldn't solve certain puzzles in the game--he would just not be as well suited to the task. In addition to each character's standard mutant-power attacks, there will be multiple types of combo moves available where two characters can pair up and attack at the same time. Some examples of this include Jean Grey lifting up an enemy with her mind, and Cyclops sliding in underneath, blasting it out of the air, and also Colossus picking up Wolverine and tossing him blades-first into an evil mutant. These combos are extremely impressive looking, and Activision is actually aiming to create one combo for every possible pair of X-Men. If you do the math, that's really quite something.

X-Men Legends is largely based on the look of the Ultimate X-Men series, though certain elements from the movies will also seep into the overall style of the game. Every level in the game will feature fully interactive and destructible environments, allowing for a lot of crazy and unique battle sequences. Cutscenes will also intermittently present themselves for mission briefings and debriefings. None of the voice work for the game had been implemented yet, but each character will have his or her own, true-to-the-character voice.

X-Men Legends is still well over a year from completion, but everything we saw of the game still managed to impress and entertain. The game's original blend of action-oriented battle sequences and cooperative gameplay is very cool, and the multiplayer co-op function should be an absolute blast. Activision has slated X-Men Legends for a fall 2004 release, and the game will be available on the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox.

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