Being as the
nazi fucks wonderful gentlemen [ed] who run this place removed my, massive, badly imported videos, for the ridiculously beurucratic reason that they broke the website, I have to resort to other articles.
Therefore it is with some measure of pride and a hint of prejudice I am going to review the Xcellently titled (See what I did there), X-Men II: Rise of Apocalypse for the PSP.
The game itself has been out for some time and is available on most formats and consoles. It recently migrated over to PSP and is really a fantastic game for the handheld system. For those unfamiliar with the game or plot, it involves the straight-laced, gay rights X-Men and the nasty, axis of evil, brotherhood working together to defeat Apocalypse, who is some form of super mutant bent on the destruction of earth because his head is so small in relation to his body.
The game is best described as a party-based RPG, giving you access to a diverse selection of marvel x-men heroes, of whom, you play four at a time. But XML2 has a few tricks up it's tightly fitting sleeve to mark it out from the crowd. As well as your basic stats and skills upgrades, you get the chance to add abilities and other fun stuff to your mutant warriors.
Customising costumes, equipment and even allowing some input to the AI behaviour, for those characters you're not playing, is really useful.
The combat is real-time and great fun. You beat, smash and super power your way through enemies. Burning them, turning them to ice, levitating them and hitting them with psychic energy all at once. In the later levels when your chaps/chapettes are really ridiculously strong the sheer mayhem on-screen is a joy to participate in.
The game doesnt suffer from the normal limitations of early characters being pants, or unlevelled characters you dont use. The computer kindly keeps all unused characters roughly the same level as your core party, allowing you to drop in other mutants and heroes as you require their unique abilities.
The game is tough enough and long enough that you feel really like you're playing an adventure and for those who are only quasi-familiar with X-Men (Me, for example who knew Colossus and Scarlet Witch had a thing?) it's accessible and fun to play. That last line probably sums up whats best. It's got all the depth you could want (Skill games, trivia quizes for extra xp, character adjustment and skill trees) whilst being simple, fun and accessible. Don't want to mess around levelling characters? Fine the computer will do it for you. Don't want to care about equipment and stuff? Again no worries, let the AI auto-distribute, which it does averagely well. Of course if you're hardcore and want that extra +1 speed or to juice out that +2% to all resistances, you're going to want to handle these things yourself.
The graphics on the PSP are fantastic, looking much like a lesser antialiased version of the original console version, it's very nice to look at with good particle and lighting effects around. The cell shaded style of the characters works well on the handheld and the third person camera angle is a good overhead save for the PSP's processor. The only criticism on graphics would be that the areas can be very dark in some levels meaning you'll occasionally miss things or walk past objectives. The minimap is worth its weight in gold here, but still on a handheld perhaps tuning the brightness and contrast for the mobile market would have been better (I once jumped Magneto into a giant black hole I should have seen from a mile off. Sadly I had chosen not to give him +1 flight=goodbye Magneto.). That's not to say the game isnt perfect in dark conditions, but with reflection it can be a pain to see on occasion.
The audio is very well produced with scores similar to the X-Men and Spiderman movies. Large ochesteral movements accompany the heroes into batle and creepy, lesser tracks help them wander round science labs and jungles. The character voices are extensive and well acted. Each character has samples, speech and things to say all well acted and without any annoying pauses or random lapses in conversation (Silent Hill, stop using people with downs syndrome to do the voices...). All in all the audio is top notch.
Control is fairly easy, the thumbstick is intuitive and simple to employ, holding down the right paddle results in mutant powers being ready to use, wheras default controls mean the buttons punch kick and jump etc. Very easy to grasp. It's a little more fiddly to use the health and power potions mid-combat or to switch x-men but easily learnable after a few levels. There are never any truly frustrating control moments.
The gameplay is a joy. Smashing the living crap out of a host of baddies and searching through the levels is never a grind as the game has lots of variety and unlockables. Plenty of secret charcters to get hold of, secrets to expose and the odd bonus round and X-mansion training sweet all add to the variety and let you do a few side things if you get distracted. The game is never too hard or annoyingly easy, but it can be a pain in the ass to run across a level and then have to go all the way back when you've found the key or femidom or whatever. Still, an average RPG gripe which is not life threatening. But by far the best feature in gameplay is found by combining x-powers to create super combos (For which you get an XP bonus) it's great. Example? I use Magneto to float a guard towards Colloses who upercuts him into a wall and then Nighcrawler teleports in, grabs his limp body and teleports him over a drop, lets him go and teleports back. All rewarded with a nice thunderous, announcer 'COMBO'. Cool.
Gameplay has some issues, notably around the AI. They're ok at not getting in the way, they can be slow to come to your aid and, very rarely mind, they get lost and die. The only real gripe with teamplasy I have is that the AI never perform combos of their own volition. Literally never. If you're playing one character the others never do something together whilst your otherwise engaged. They'll fight other enemies sure, but annoyingly you have to set up all the combos. Still, if they did you'd get all that extra XP for no reason I guess.
The final word on the game is multiplayer. You can co-op the story mode with a link to link between PSPs via wifi or you can..And this is the best...Connect to the net via your wireless network and play with up to four friends online via the inbuilt (Non subscription) Gamespy service. Brilliant fun. The co-op is where this game's really at and if you've got a friend with a favourite X man and you do too, there is no excuse not to link it up and get it on. COMBO!
All in all, if you like games, comics, breathing, sex or chocolate you should get this game. Its well devloped for the PSP, and barring a few slow load times it's absoloutly a great conversion and a reason to buy the handheld. Considering you can now pick this up pre-owned for £12.99 (Thanks Game, I'll have your babies) there's no excuse. As Professor X (Voiced by Jean Luc Picard) would say in his alternate identity:
'Make it so'.