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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
6.0
Visuals
7.0
Audio
7.5
Gameplay
5.5
Features
6.0
Replay
4.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Activision
DEVELOPER:
Midway Los Angeles
GENRE: Fighting
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
October 14, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
X-Men: Destiny

X-Men Arcade

X-Men Arcade

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

More in this Series
 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on February 11, 2003

Full Review: Every time I ask someone which X-Men they would want to be if given the opportunity, people always say Wolverine, but I always pick Cyclops.


The X-Men license has always been a revolutionary license. The comics, when first introduced, turned the comic book world upside down. While prior comics usually contained one single hero, X-Men featured several. Also, while previous comics featured lavish stories about how the superheroes got their powers, X-Men simply just said ?they're mutants,? and only through continued reading of the comic books would you find out about each hero's real roots.

X-Men also did wonders when it went to the silver screen. Before the release of X-Men: The Movie superhero movies were generally frowned upon for their normally stupid demeanor, weak writing, and laughable acting. X-Men changed that though, as the movie contained great action scenes coupled with terrific acting and a stellar storyline. After X-Men superhero movies have become more commonplace, with licenses like Spiderman getting the feature flick treatment, and adaptations of Daredevil, Wonder Woman, and The Hulk soon to come.

Unfortunately, X-Men has never really made a big splash as far as video games are concerned. Many different types of games have been made based on the X-Men, including side-scrolling beat-em-ups, platformers, and fighting games. One of the latest entries into the X-Men video game library is a fighting game called X-Men: Next Dimension. Sadly, this game takes the shape of nearly every other X-Men game before it: mediocre.

The game's big problem is the fighting engine. There's just not much to it. Fighting other CPU opponents is generally bland, as jumping around while mashing buttons works just as well as attacking your opponent strategically. People who do attack opponents tactically will be disappointed with the game's special moves, as they are hard to activate and even harder to use strategically.

Aerial combat is also weak in X-Men: Next Dimension. Though developer Paradox promised that this would be one of the more enjoyable features in the game, that simply isn't true. Throwing your combatant into the air is hard enough, and even when you manage to do so, getting a complex move put on them when they are in the air is hard to do, considering how small a time frame the game gives you to do this.

Environment interaction doesn't work well either because of how niche it is within the game. Only three characters out of the whole bunch can do it (Toad, Phoenix, and Beast) and even those characters can only interact with certain environments. Because environment interaction is so rarely allowed, you quickly forget that you can even do it, making Next Dimension's environment interaction all but worthless.

To experience the full lackluster fighting experience of X-Men: Next Dimension though, you'll have to pick a game mode to do battle in. X-Men's list of modes is very generic, including basic fight-game modes such as Story, Arcade, Versus, Survival, and Practice. Story mode is like any other fighting game's story mode, meaning it includes great fights with a very mediocre storyline. Arcade mode is basically Story mode without the story, and Versus is just like any other multiplayer fighting game. Survival mode is also basic, having you simply try to survive through as many matches as possible with only one life meter. Neat idea, but nothing revolutionary. Practice mode is just like it sounds, you get to practice your moves on a non-fighting opponent, and that's it. A very helpful feature for when you're just starting the game, but after that the mode becomes useless.

Out of all the video game genres there are, fighting games are probably the most reliant on having good controls. For the most part, Next Dimension's controls work quite well. Executing simple attacks and maneuvers is a snap, and putting your character into different attack positions is quite easy. When you get to the special moves though, you find that they are difficult to activate. This somewhat cripples the gameplay, as having more easily accessible special moves would have certainly spiced things up a bit.

Graphics in Next Dimension are decent, but nothing memorable. Developer Paradox displays some detailed character models, and some nice-looking animation (all though not drool-worthy). The environments you fight in are okay looking, containing several things to ogle at that are very finely detailed. The cut-scenes within the game are mediocre looking, complete with unclean textures and rigid movement by the X-Men.

The voice acting within the cut-scenes though isn't that bad. The voice actors who read out the script do so with emotion, pumping some life into the rather tired dialogue used within the game. Other sound effects sound much like the sounds they are trying to replicate, although there isn't much difference between punching and kicking sounds. The music for the game is fitting, as it's fast-paced nature creates the perfect tone for the fights. Still though, it isn't anything outstanding.

Bottom Line
In the end, X-Men: Next Generation is just one big could-of-been. The fighting system could-of-been great if things were executed better, but they weren't. The game's story could-of-been great had developer Paradox simply used an old X-Men plot, but they didn't. Finally, had Paradox tried some new things and built their game around the X-Men license, X-Men: Next Generation could-of-been great. Skip this one, you can thank me later.


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