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Developer:
Raven Software
Publisher: Activision
Platform: PS2, XBox, Gamecube, PC
Release Date: September 20, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




In the sequel to last year’s hit, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse allows players to not only take on the role of the X-Men, but also Magneto and other members of the Brotherhood, as the teams battle against the forces of Apocalypse. With the option to have a team of Brotherhood and X-Men characters, Rise of Apocalypse guarantees one hell of a ride!


Rise of Apocalypse begins with a beautiful cinema in which Magneto, Sabertooth and Mystique team up with a few of the X-Men in an attempt to rescue Professor Charles Xavier. After the rescue, Magneto and Xavier discuss the turn of events, and because the two both have issues with Apocalypse, they team up. Of course, the relationship between the two factions is very slim, with petty arguments happening often, but the two realize they must work through their differences in order to defeat the greater evil.


While Rise of Apocalypse features some familiar faces from the original X-Men Legends, the game also has some new characters. The game features eleven characters from the X-Men, including Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue, Gambit, and new additions Sunfire and Bishop. As far as Brotherhood characters, there is Magneto, Toad, Juggernaut and Scarlet Witch. While the consoles--XBox, PS2, and GameCube--feature the same cast of characters and three unlockables, the PC and PSP versions each have their own unique extra characters. The PC version features characters such as Sabretooth and Pyro, and the PSP version features characters like Cable, X-Man and Cannonball.


One interesting area of the game depends on what characters are used when reaching certain events. For example, if you are talking to a Brotherhood character and you are controlling an X-Men character, chances are the Brotherhood character won't exactly be too courteous. However, if you are controlling, say, Magneto, chances are they will treat you with respect. This goes both ways; the X-Men are kinder to their teammates while the Brotherhood are also more friendly toward their own. During the actual missions, there are also events that occur due to the characters on your team. For example, when reaching Lady Deathstrike, if a Brotherhood character is on your team, you have the option to pay her off rather than fight. However, if you have Wolverine in your party, then you are forced to fight Lady Deathstrike. There are several different occasions when events happen like this. Normally it isn't often that you won't be forced to fight against an enemy, but if you encounter a character with an archenemy in your party, then there is a chance that some extra conversations will occur.


In the original X-Men Legends, much of the story revolved around a mutant known as Magma, and her experiences with joining the X-Men. Being that the game was a multi-player game, many hated the fact that several missions would take place in which Magma was the only playable character, forcing any other players to sit and watch. With Rise of Apocalypse, Activision changed that, and nearly the entire game is multi-player compatible. The only reason I say nearly the entire game is because there are a few solo missions in the Danger Room--mostly the character challenges--that are only available for one character. Other than those Danger Room missions, the rest of the game is fully multi-player.


As far as gameplay goes, Rise of Apocalypse is very much like that of the original. The combat is pretty much identical to the original, but with a much larger variety of skills that characters can acquire. For example, many characters now have boost abilities, and many have the ability to heal party members. Jean Grey now has an ability allowing her to resurrect fallen party members, while Storm can control not only the wind and lightning, but the freezing cold too. The wider variety of skills leads to an even larger area of customization for characters, which everyone has to love.


The leveling up process in the game is also a little different than it was in the original. It was quite bothersome when a character leveled up, because you would have to go to the character menu, completely leaving the combat and slowing the game for a while. This was even worse with multiple players because those individuals would have to wait until you were finished leveling your character. Well, this time, included in the game is the auto level ability. As a character levels up, you have the option of allowing the computer to organize the stats as it sees fit. This is nice because it doesn't even force you to leave the gameplay, but some players might not like it because sometimes the computer will choose abilities that you don't find necessarily useful.


When a player beat the original X-Men Legends, several different character costumes became available for your next playthrough. With Rise of Apocalypse, the creators continued the tradition, but took it to the next step. Instead of forcing you to beat the game, players normally only have to beat an act or so to unlock certain costumes. In my opinion, the best costumes come when you get to Act 3, because this unlocks the Age of Apocalypse outfits. An interesting aspect of the costumes is that when all four characters are wearing their Age of Apocalypse outfits, this gives your party a 100% attack rating. Using certain party members also gives your characters a certain effect. For example, if using the four Brotherhood characters, this adds 5% to your characters' earned experience. Different combinations of characters have different effects on your team, so be sure to mess around with your party to see the results.


One area in the original X-Men Legends that I think could have been worked on was the inventory section. There were many times when you’d walk around with a full inventory because you wouldn’t want to drop certain items. Well, in Rise of Apocalypse there still is a chance that your party will have a full inventory, but this is where the hero’s stash comes in handy. The hero's stash is basically just a second inventory. However, players are able to store up to 60 pieces of equipment. This comes in handy with the larger amount of equipment available compared to the first game.


The hero's stash might sound like a nice new addition, but there have been reports that having a full inventory and a large amount of items in the hero can lead to the game crashing. The only version I have personally had this experience with was the PlayStation 2, which froze several times through my playthrough. Although, it seems that all three consoles have problems with this. It has been rumored that in order to fix this problem, players must not put a large stock of items into their hero's stash and try not to let their inventory reach the max limit. If players find their game to be freezing, normally you can empty out your hero's stash and it seems to fix this problem. While this might not actually fix the game, it seems to cut down on the freezing.


At first glance, some might think that Rise of Apocalypse doesn’t look that different from the original X-Men Legends. Well, you’re right. While some of the game might not look as cartoonie as the first one, the combat and such is pretty much identical to the original. The graphics in the game look similar to the original, but there are some cinemas that are excellently done.


The voice acting in Rise of Apocalypse is fairly well done, and again led by Patrick Stewart. While many of the voice actors have changed from the original, most of the changes aren't too bad. However, some of the voices, such as Rogue, become quite an annoyance after hearing them babble on about this and that.


While X-Men Legends: Rise of Apocalypse might have some problems, the option to play as Magneto and the rest of the Brotherhood is an excellent addition to an already interesting game. Fans of the X-Men comics will love this game, but even if you aren't a fan, the game is still highly recommended. X-Men Legends II is a very fun and exciting experience that anyone can enjoy.


Final Grade: 86%




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