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Developer:
Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Platform: PSP
Release Date: October 18, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




When it comes to videogames found on consoles and portables, often the portable version seems to lack some of the material found in the console version. However, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is an exception, and features many things not found in the console version. The PSP version of the game has more everything: equipment, characters, missions, and load times!


Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are by now you have heard about the storyline in X-Men Legends II, but if not, the game revolves around the X-Men teaming up with their greatest nemesis, Magneto, in an attempt to defeat the all-powerful Apocalypse. Basically, the storyline is somewhat similar to that of the Age of Apocalypse, and even features Apocalypseís Four Horsemen: Abyss, Holocaust, Mikhail Rasputin, and Mr. Sinister.


The gameplay in X-Men Legends II for the PSP is the exact same as its console counterpart and the previous installment in the series. Basically, players travel through many of the game's dungeons in a sort of Baldur's Gate style, but with three other characters traveling around. While the player can only actually control one character, it is possible to switch back and forth between the other characters in your party by holding down the left shoulder button and pressing that character's corresponding direction on the d-pad.


As you progress through the game, there is no doubt that your characters will begin to level up. Once a certain amount of experience is obtained, a character will gain a level and the player is then able to increase their stats. Each time a character levels, they obtain four points that can go towards leveling their stats, including HP, attack, focus (mutant power), and speed. Characters also earn one point that can be used toward either obtaining a new mutant power or just merely strengthening a current one. Plus, if this whole thing sounds a bit too complicated for you or you just donít know how to properly equip your X-Men, then donít worry, and let the game take care of that for you. Unlike the original game, X-Men Legends II has a feature where the computer will take control of all leveling up points and place them in areas that it feels are useful. While you donít have to do this, it does help with certain gamers, but I assume most will feel a little restricted and will want to control the flow of the leveling themselves.


Even though the basics of the game are exactly the same as the console version, there are some additions that make the portable version stand out. Every character from the console versions is available in the PSP version, but there are a few new unlockable characters that were not seen in the PlayStation 2, Xbox, or GameCube versions. The PSP-exclusive characters include Cable, X-Man, Cannonball, and Dark Phoenix. A player must first beat the game to unlock Dark Phoenix, but the other characters can all be obtained in a single playthrough -- well, that is if you obtain that character's comic mission. Exclusive to the PSP version of the game are also several new missions and things known as comic book missions. Many of these comic book missions include famous events that occurred in X-Men history, such as X-Cutioners Song and the battle with Magneto onboard Asteroid M.


Graphically, X-Men Legends II looks great on the PSP screen and very similar to the console version. The only downfall is the occasional bad camera angle, and sometimes there are some problems with load times and unstable frame rates. Still, the environments look great, character models look excellent, and the different mutant powers (including Cyclopsí optic blast and Stormís lightning bolts) look great.


If you played the console version, then you know that the sound was high quality. Well, the quality of the portable version is just as good as that of the console. The game still contains the large amount of voice work found in the console version and much of it sounds great. For the most part, each of the mutant powers used make some sort of sound, which are all of high quality as well.


With more missions and a larger cast of characters, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse for the PSP is a great buy. While some of the game exceeds that of the console counterparts, problems with load times, camera angles, and some unstable frame rates hold it back. Even though Iíd recommend the PSP version to any hardcore X-Men fan just to be able to use some of their favorite mutants, such as X-Man and Cable, anyone else might want to just stick with the console version.


Final Grade: 81%




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