X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 09/20/05 | Genre: Action/RPG
X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse is the sequel to the popular Action RPG that took gamers by surprise. This time around, not only do you have more characters to control, the entire gameplay and visual system has been completely reworked. These changes provide an even more fun and enjoyable adventure than the first.
Once the game loads up, you will instantly see how incredibly detailed and lifelike the CG cinemas are. This was the first area of the game I remember seeing at E3 and it certainly is as nice looking now as it was then.
The CG is not the only thing that looks nice--I really like the cel-shaded look Raven has given to X-Men Legends II. It may not be quite as detailed as more other new releases--but it depicts the X-Men world with style. Animations are fluid and the games runs at a steady framerate. The environments are also varied with stages taking place in a jungle, buildings, factories, etc. This time around Raven has also included a ton of destructible environments that can reveal items and even hidden locations and alternate routes through levels.
Patrick Stewart leads the cast of X-Men voice actors and delivers an excellent performance. Although we all know and love him as Professor Xavier, I can't help but wonder where the Starship Enterprise is parked when he speaks. The other voice actors do a good job but none stand out quite as well as Stewart.
Players can team up with up to three other players for four player co-op. While the PC and PS2 version both offer online play, I preferred the Xbox version the most. Alas, the little GameCube is stuck with an offline mode only. However, there are a few issues with the online mode. In order to keep all four characters on the screen at once, you will run the risk of the camera being zoomed out all the time. Combine that problem with very long load times and you will find that the online mode, while a blast to play, just has a few too many problems to be enjoyable. Perhaps these will be worked out in X-Men Legends III?
My favorite aspect of this game is the single player campaign. Like in the first title, as you gain experience, your mutants can level up. To help ensure the gameplay is kept away from needless micro-management, an option is given so you can have the game automatically assign all of your skill points and even manage all items. This is a great blessing because the menu screens load up extremely slow and who has time to figure out where to put skill points when there is Apocalypse and his minions out there to destroy?
There is one area where you need to micro-manage. Players will have fifteen characters unlocked for their use at the beginning of the first real mission. In order to keep your characters balanced, players will want to constantly be switching their teams around so the EXP given out from enemies is evenly distributed. This is a minor gripe though and is a better problem to have than not having enough characters to use.
Overall, X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse is the best Action RPG I have played in a very long time. If you are a fan of the genre, then by all means pick up this title. If you are not a big Action RPG fan but love the X-Men, this title may just convert you to the genre for good.