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X-Men: Destiny

Sleeping mutie.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

"Crops dying. Earthquakes. Floods. The economy collapsed because of all those natural disasters," an anchorman states with gravitas at the start of X-Men: Destiny.

I'm going to postulate that "all those natural disasters" also include people vanishing after getting knocked out, invisible walls spawning throughout the city and the fabric of time moving in choppy spurts. On a technical level, X-Men: Destiny - from Too Human developer Silicon Knights - is shockingly dated.

The blocky character models, stiff animations, 2D explosions that wouldn't look out of place on the PS1 and stodgy controls are on par with those in budget titles like Deadly Premonition and Earth Defense Force: 2017. The voice-acting includes a character switching accents from Southern US to French to Jamaican in the span of a sentence. I even encountered a bug where Wolverine's claws were supposed to be drawn during a cut-scene, but weren't - and don't get me started on not being able to skip dialogue. That such abysmal issues are glaringly obvious in a full-price game from 2011 not starring Duke Nukem is astonishing.

Beneath Destiny's incompetent exterior lies a role-playing brawler about mutant youngsters finding their place in the world. After a mutant/human peace rally in San Francisco to commemorate Professor Xavier's death is attacked by unknown forces, you choose to play as one of three characters who suddenly realise they're mutants.

There's the fresh-off-the-boat, Japanese, goth-y schoolgirl Aimi; Hitler-youth anti-mutant Adrian; and Grant the jock, whose character development begins and ends with him liking football. None of them is memorable and the whole thing takes on a Mary Sue vibe (particularly with Aimi), in which you play as a nobody living their fantasy of inexplicably encountering all their favourite characters and saving the day.

Cole from inFamous called. He wants his look back.

It's the kind of game where, upon seeing your 15-year-old avatar fighting some thugs, the X-Men confidently remark that you seem to have everything under control and just keep doing what you're doing. Never mind that you're still an under-age civilian.

Those hoping for a darker turn on some of comics' more progressive heroes will be disappointed. The pun-ridden script is pitiful, but entertaining in a juvenile way. Children will likely get a kick out of it (despite the PEGI 16 rating) and adults like me can't help but smirk at such clumsy lines as "It's time to purify the Purifiers!" or Adrian's pick up line with Surge: "You must be packing some serious voltage."

It's all a bit naff, but provides an excuse for you to fight alongside the series' beloved roster before collecting their faculties. While you start out picking a core power tailored to melee brawling, long range combat or speedy spectral blades, your abilities can be augmented by finding "x-genes" containing the virtues of famous X-Men characters.

These come in three categories: offensive, defensive and utility. For example, equip Pyro's offensive x-gene to set foes ablaze, Ice-Man's defensive x-gene for an icy barrier, and Quicksilver's utility x-gene to sprint swiftly and eventually stun nearby enemies. You can also find well known characters' costumes lying about. Equipping them along with a full set of that mutant's x-genes gives you temporary access to souped-up "x-mode".