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PS2/Xbox/PC Preview - 'X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse'

by Thomas Wilde on July 20, 2005 @ 2:40 a.m. PDT

X-Men Legends II introduces the epic storyline of an uneasy alliance between the X-Men and the hated Brotherhood in a fight to reclaim Earth from Apocalypse's grasp. Impressive gameplay enhancements include more than double the superpowers and customization capabilities, the debut of several new playable characters, over 100 diverse types of enemies, and a breathtaking range of exotic and real-world environments—from the Madri Temple to Egypt.

Genre : RPG
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Release Date: September 27, 2005

The original X-Men Legends sold like mad, moving about two million units across all platforms. A sequel was arguably inevitable.

Set immediately following the original, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse raises the first game’s stakes. In the wake of the appearance of the archvillain Apocalypse, the X-Men are forced to go underground and battle his forces across the world. At the same time, for their own survival, they must cooperate with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Magneto.

There are a total of sixteen playable characters in X-Men Legends II, and not all of the original game’s cast will be making a return. Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler and, of course, Wolverine are back for more, joined by Bishop, Magneto, and Juggernaut. Activision’s keeping the identities of the remaining playable characters a closely guarded secret, although they’ve hinted that we’ll see Toad and Mystique. Your supporting cast includes Professor X and Forge, with appearances from Angel, Heather Hudson, and a host of other characters from throughout the Marvel Universe.

As for bosses, Activision showed off a fast-paced brawl with Apocalypse’s servant Archangel, and the game’s official website has videos of a fight with Wolverine’s enemy Deathstrike.

The game itself hasn’t changed much upon first glance, but Raven Software’s made any number of little tweaks and improvements to the basic gameplay. As before, the game’s hub-based, with five headquarters for the X-Men throughout the world. You can once again buy items from Forge to equip your characters, and interact with a variety of NPCs in each of your hideouts.

The new level cap is 99, allowing you to fully trick out every character in the game, and each character has been given a variety of new powers for you to play with. Nightcrawler’s acquired a brand new fighting style centering around various sword techniques, and Cyclops can now use a variety of optic blasts including pulse waves, radiation attacks, and ricochets.

Using a new scrollwheel technique, you can switch out your powers in real-time, enabling you to adapt to a situation more quickly. This comes in handy, since you’re no longer forced to use a full quartet of characters; instead, you can use as many or as few as you want. Solo a level if you feel like it, or take on a stage with a buddy.

The Xbox and PS2 versions will support full online gameplay, including some exclusive multiplayer content like Skirmish Mode, and several of the new features are meant to streamline the online experience. For example, you no longer have to sit through someone else’s level-up screen; you can simply set the game to automatically level your character up as you go, and keep playing with your new, more potent abilities.

All of these advantages come at a price, of course. The enemies have been powered up, too, with random powerups and mutation chances. Leaders may acquire new abilities or equipment on the fly, making them different each time you fight them, while the average enemy has a chance to suddenly gain new powers or spawn twice as fast. The result’s a game that constantly changes as you play it, where random mooks may abruptly become a serious threat.

X-Men Legends II is yet another good-looking sequel in a year full of them, promising twenty-five to thirty hours of gameplay in the Marvel Universe. If you, like me and so many others, blew entire weeks at a time on X-Men Legends, the sequel will have you doing it all over again.

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