The beat 'em up is a genre that has quietly faded to the side and hasn't had many revolutions on the consoles in recent years. X-MEN LEGENDS takes that style of gameplay, adds a ton of depth to it, four-player support and quite frankly is one of the best X-MEN games I've ever played.
The game takes place within the Ultimate X-Men storyline (so it looks just like the movie and even has some of the voice talent). The game starts off with Wolverine rescuing Magma and of course the game then turns into the X-Men having to save the world.
The story is alright, and if you're into it, you can talk to the other characters at the mansion, or you can just plow straight into the missions. Either way works pretty well and will suit gamers of all sorts.
Speaking of suiting the individual gamer, there are fifteen X-Men to choose from the game. These range from the uber-popular Wolverine (I expect a Penny-Arcade strip about someone being a Wolverine whore and not letting anyone else play with him), to Cyclops, Rogue, Storm, Colossus, Iceman, Beast, Nightcrawler, Magma, and more. Beyond this, each character is customizable as they level up throughout the missions.
Experience points are given to all X-Men, but the active X-Men will get slightly more. Each level of experience gives points for attributes and new moves. This adds even more customization to the game, and the level of customization is excellent and adds an extra layer to the game.
But while I've spent this time talking about the RPG elements, what has been forgotten is the actual combat gameplay. What is there is surprisingly deep. While at the beginning of the game the fighting seems like it could be a little repetitive, it gets a lot deeper and a lot harder. One of the key elements of the game is getting multiple attacks to hit at the same time. There are varying combos that come from this and the extra damage achieved is critical in later levels.
Those later levels are tough even with special moves that you slowly unlock. It takes some good teamwork in four-player to do well towards the end of the game. In addition to that, there are xtreme powers that are gained late, and can be used rather infrequently as you pick up the X icons.
The level of difficulty is welcome as it makes cooperation and communication absolutely critical. There are enough healing potions to make the game easier, but even then you can expect a few deaths, especially if you play without the most experienced of gamers.
Now for the minor complaints not all of the missions involve four X-Men, so the whole game isn't four-player. This is minor, but I view this game best as a four-player experience, so it hurts a little bit. There are some other multiplayer modes, but they aren't nearly as compelling as the story mode. Also, there are some areas that look like bottomless pits but aren't and vice versa. I had a couple occasions where Wolverine died and had to be re-purchased for use and it shouldn't have happened. Again, minor things.
The game looks pretty good, the levels are well-done. The characters all look nice and comic book-like thanks to lots of color and a black line around them. It's quasi-cel shading and looks grand. Then there is the issue of all the cool special attacks and effects which look great as well. The sound in the game is adequate as well with great voice work, a good score and decent sound effects.
All in all it's not hard to recommend X-MEN LEGENDS. It's not as solid as SPIDER-MAN 2, but it's definitely the best X-MEN game in a long time and is a deep enough brawler to keep any gamer happy.