My 1st impressions after beating MMX4. Playing Zero makes this game what it is, otherwise it wouldn't be nearly as good.
While I don't think it can be argued that X4 beats X in terms of level design, X4 gave me the option to play as Zero and frankly that's what hands it its victory. There is just something about Zero and the way he plays that truly makes this game what it is, and in comparison, playing as Mega Man X is just boring. Just the way Zero is all about risk and reward makes the game so much more fun and makes this game different enough to separate itself from the original series. Mega Man X just feels like an even more beaten up song and dance routine, he's always underpowered in the beginning, gets stronger and eventually destroys everything in his path. X just hits too many of the same buttons for me to say that its different from the original series, because each time I play as X I just wish I was playing his original counter part. On top of that, there is a constant need to charge his blaster to take down enemies, that I just get really annoyed at and its inconvenient at times, it doesn't make the game challenging, just tedious. Now Zero on the other hand, doesn't get to be all powerful like X, aside from a few power ups, Zero plays the same beginning to end. So what it really comes down to is recognizing patterns and learning when to attack and when to dodge. Zero isn't helpless though and the fact he tears through everything with a simple slice makes all the difference. Really Zero is what I wanted from the X series, different yet familiar gameplay, and he delivered it. So why didn't they just focus on him after X4? So much wasted potential.
As for everything I didn't like, well, pretty much everything with Mega Man X. I think I just don't like playing as X simply because his counterpart is just better at doing his job than he is, I'm not sure, but at the very least I know it's a personal problem. The levels are also very hit and miss. While a good majority of them are fine, the gimmicky ones like peacocks' stage and the bike riding stage are just things I can do without. I admire they are trying to change the formula a bit, but these levels just don't turn out nearly as fun as the other ones, and frankly I'd rather have more traditional levels. The fact the levels were split in two and some stages dragged on more than others certainly wasn't appealing either. But in turn the last few levels really had nothing in them but bosses so those became too short.X4 was certainly lacking in the level design department, but the bosses themselves were fun and interesting compared to some of the last ones in the previous two games. The story is also a literal joke as the voice acting is so bad that anyone else could probably do a better job if they tried. Despite these faults though, I still find X4 a pretty good game overall and I really like playing as Zero, you know fully, Mega Man X3…
Conclusion: Perhaps the greatest reason why this game is so good is because you can play as Zero. He mixes the gameplay style enough to make X4 feel fresh and enjoyable. Otherwise I think this game would have been far more criticized over level design and the gimmicks in certain stages if it was just like the original Mega Man X.