X-Men: The Official Game

X-Men: The Official Game is an action adventure role playing game that was developed by Z-Axis, published by Activision, and released for the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and GameCube on May 17, 2006.

Developer: Z-Axis
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: May 17, 2006
Platforms: PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube
JustRPG Score: 64%
Pros:
+Great for fans of the movie.
+Pleasant visuals.
Cons:
-Repetitive.
-Appeal limited to fans of the movie.
-Clunky controls.

Overview

X-Men: The Official Game Overview

X-Men: The Official Game is an action adventure RPG that was released on multiple platforms in early 2006. The game puts the player in the shoes of their favorite X-Men characters as they play through the story line from the movie in order to save the world. Overall the game is very poor in many respects. The controls and clunky, the dialogue is poorly written, and the game is very repetitive.

X-Men: The Official Game Screenshots

X-Men: The Official Game Featured Video

Full Review

X-Men: The Official Game Review

By, Jason Ferguson

Backdrop
.hack Part 1 Infection (Dot Hack) begins with a bang. Something disastrous happens to your character‘s real world friend, while innocently playing a 20 million-subscriber base, wildly popular online RPG game (MMORPG), The World. To unravel the mystery of your friend’s misfortune, you become an online, ingame rogue hacker, exploring every corner of The World, even some virus-infected ones.
The hero is armed with the special skills of Data Drain and Gate Hack, and some colorful, talented fellow adventurers to fill the two other available party slots. Different adventurers must accompany you depending on the plot‘s development. You have some control over the others in your party, including upgrading them through trades or gifts. You can play only a single class, Twin Blade. Other characters are from different classes, with varied strengths and weaknesses, from a mage type (Wavemaster) to a bully (Heavy Axeman).
Gameplay
Gameplay takes place in three principal areas – towns, fields, and dungeons. Towns house The World’s servers. There, the player can save the game, buy magic scrolls and useful and unique items, store items, buy equipment, and talk and trade with lots of other players in character online. One town has an unusual ranch to check out, a patent homage to an enduring feature of just about every Final Fantasy.
The town’s Chaos Gate provides instant teleportation to a particular wide-open Field, containing monster encounter hotspots, a mystical spring, treasure, and lots of mysterious food. You enter three distinct keywords, some known at the game‘s onset, and others learned through play. Whatever keywords are entered, the difficulty level of the destination is helpfully revealed. This prevents a low-level party from being massacred. Once the keywords are entered, you travel through the Chaos Gate. (You can enter specific keywords learned to continue the plot, do side quests, or do unlimited exploring. Or, you can instruct the Gate to enter random keywords, and take your chances. There‘s also an option to enter any keywords you wish from a word list.) Every Field houses a single Dungeon. The dungeons, where you spend much of the game fighting for your life, are not overly large in size, and always range between three and five average levels.
Many have compared Dot Hack to Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II (PSO) on the Gamecube. Let us gently discredit this. We feel Dot Hack has far better graphics than PSO. The Fields and Dungeons contain many colorful, over stylized backdrops and settings, including weather effects. Dot Hack’s monsters resemble the beautifully-drawn monsters of the later Final Fantasy’s. Dot Hack’s world is gigantic with a seeming infinite number of locations to explore. PSO’s world is relatively small, and plot is threadbare, with meaningless, though fun, side quests, which instill no enthusiasm in the player. Dot Hack’s plot is deep and complex, with each subplot advancing the story just a little bit further. (Remember though, the end of this game in no way comes close to wrapping up the story, to be completed in the three games to be released later this year.) One visual treat, however, was lifted directly from PSO – the cascading rings that accompany the teleportation of characters to and from different areas.
Combat
Dot Hack’s combat engine can best be described as modified real-time. Much like the action-RPG, Kingdom Hearts, button mashing can be effective to beat monsters. Monster combat icons appear as large yellow twirling landmarks. As you approach, the landmark dissolves, monsters come at you big-time, and, undoubtedly, players will feel a healthy adrenaline rush. Some of Dot Hack’s many monsters do not stand around waiting to be pummeled, rather some you need to catch. Dot Hack lets you turn combat almost into a turn-based affair. The player needs only to hit Triangle in the middle of battle to pause the game instantly. From there the player can give orders to the others in the party, anything from healing someone, reviving another, casting a spell, designating a target monster. Without jeopardizing your party from the hailstorm of monster blows, combat becomes a calmer, more strategic, experience. This will help the many action-challenged. Camera angles play a big role in successful combat. You must be facing a monster to do any damage. As in many games, manipulating opposing environmental elements, like fire vs. water, is a key to successful monster combat.
Dot Hack’s cyberspace setting provides a wealth of Wow-inducing outbursts. The Data Drain option in combat is a great example. When a monster’s approaches zero, the player can Data Drain to reduce a horrendous, gigantic steel robot, for example, into a sniveling, puny monster, easily defeated with a single blow. Data Drain always results in a nifty, rare item or essential Virus Cores so you can Gate Hack areas of The World now closed, but needing investigation. One bad side effect – if you defeat, a Data Drained monster, but a single experience point is earned. One REALLY bad side effect – if you Data Drain too often without giving the skill a rest, you may overload and explode. Game Over. In the case of Boss monsters, Data Drain works the same, but what remains is no sniveling puny monster, but a full-blooded slightly less tough monster. All of this makes for interesting and captivating combat, a large part of the game.
Fresh Features
Dot Hack is replete with new and interesting features that kept us riveted.
To start, the entire background and story of a real world gamer becoming a rascal hacker, penetrating deep into a virus-infected online game, is quite novel. Combine this with Dot Hack’s emulating the look and feel of an online game universe. (Message traffic on the web shows many gamers mistakenly believe Dot Hack is a real online MMORPG, along with monthly fees! No real Internet connection is required.)
Just like in the real word, Dot Hack replicates your excitement level when “New” appears before a popular forum or on your email screen. Some of the game involves receiving emails as the plot develops, as well as new, crucial information surfacing on The World’s Board. (Look out for emails challenging you to a strange game of Tag.) The online game world looks very familiar with a bunch of characters wandering around the game’s towns, with the ubiquitous balloon icons talking typical “trash” to each other, even criticizing “newbies“.
Combat grippingly called for surprisingly strategic decision-making to succeed, not related to the usual attack or defend choices. Do you go for experience and upgrade your character or try for some special equipment or a Virus Core, vital to Gate Hacking? The innovative control of other party members became second nature to us after some practice. The game rewards a player taking chances, like entering a Field or Dungeon rated 5 levels above the player’s current level. On the other hand, the game scoffed at players entering areas much lower rated the their current level, by awarding negligible experience points for victory.
Dot Hack takes progress reports to a new level, by slowly unlocking books that contain much in the way of statistics and information. There’s even a monster compendium with tips for defeating them.
Some might complain about the minimal “Save Game” ability, but we thrived on it. You explore a very hostile cyberspace environment without the facility to save. Only in a server-hosting town is saving possible at the local Recorder. We may be a solitary voice in the Wilderness, but we like this throwback to the good old RPG days. Those of you old enough to remember the Wizardry series, may recall those fingernail-biting multi-combat treks back to the Castle just to save the game. In case you’re really stuck deep in a dungeon, a common item will teleport you to the outdoor field, from where you can simply gate back to town from the command menu.
Many pieces of equipment come with distinctive powerful attack, healing, and status skills, essential to combat dominance. The player must tradeoff whether to equip something that will raise defense or offense or something less vigorous that lets you use a powerful skill. Trading is the most successful way to upgrade equipment.
In a first, Dot Hack comes with a 45 minute anime video. This gives some great background on what’s going on in The World, as well as provide clues for completing the game. In a nice twist, voiceovers for game speech can be set for Japanese or English presentation. Listening to the authentic Japanese voices really keeps you glued to the game.
Though some may scoff at what follows as meaningless, we liked the game’s unlocking of some nifty new “toys” to like, some only available when the game is cleared. You can unlock many different background music play lists. Tired of creepy tunes, just switch to something more upbeat, or futuristic. Just like real world gamers, who constantly change their desktop wallpaper, new and different wallpapers are unlocked along the way. Some are concept art of characters, while others are full blown anime renditions of the characters. This makes for great fun, and seems to pump additional energy into the game. As you progress over a dozen special cut scenes or movies will become viewable after defeating the game.
Though Dot Hack’s extras and new wrinkles enhance the RPG game experience, much of the gameplay will ring true to those who enjoy RPG‘s. Expect plenty of exploration in a huge 3D world, frequent monster combat, tons of treasure to earn and discover, upgrading your character’s weapons and armor, and needing to level before tackling pivotal story dungeons. The status screens for the characters and all equipment are well laid out and easy to grasp.
Time for Completion
Game length in hours always concerns many purchasers. A short RPG normally takes a lot of flack, and many online are asking about Dot Hack‘s time for completion. (Some have questioned whether Bandai should have released a single 80 hour game for $50, rather than four 20-hour games for $200 for a single story. This matter is beyond the scope of this review, but our high opinion of this game as a standalone is obvious.) Our experience, playing the plot without doing side quests or extra exploration, is in the 12 to 15-hour range. Players side-questing and extensively exploring, aside from the main plot, can expect to spend 25 hours to complete the game. You can even continue to advance your character, after game completion, to get a jump start on Part 2 due in May. In the next game, your character can be imported from Part 1.
Furthermore, imagine trying to explore every nook and cranny of the fields and dungeons accessible by a large number of 3-word combinations. Doing that would put the game in the 50-hour range, if not more. However, at a certain point, new items dry up, and a single experience point is earned for any defeated monster, no matter how tough.
Shortcomings
While, as is evident above, there is much to recommend in Dot Hack, certain concerns to varying degrees deserve mention.
From the “Why oh why did they leave this out?“ File. Pregame game board traffic and information about the Japanese version released months ago had many salivating for replaying the game in “parody” mode. This mode apparently converted all Dot Hack’s game world characters into satirical comedians. Sorry to say, this highly-anticipated feature is missing from the version released here.
The game requires massive amounts of button pressing. Every item or treasure uncovered from combat victories or exploration (opening chests, searching expired adventure remains, collecting food for Grunty’s, as examples) must be confirmed with a button press. When there could be 50-100 such occurrences in a single dungeon or field, over the course of the game, finger cramps seem inevitable. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance also required lots of bashing for buried treasure and chests, but the items literally flew into your inventory, a much better way to handle this.
The manual is woefully terse and lacking in some crucial information and guidance. While the ingame tutorials fill in many of the gaps, one extremely important gameplay feature is missing from both the manual and tutorials – instructions on control your characters directly during combat.
Final Word
We got a kick out of Dot Hack. The feeling of “just one more dungeon” dominated our lives for the 3 days to completion. The engaging environment held our attention without much effort. The strategic nature of combat, plus the convoluted plot kept us going for hours on end. The constant unlocking of both frivolous and important gameplay features created a “what’s next” anticipation. Now, if I could only read Japanese better, Dot Hack Part 2 is already out in Japan!
Final Grade: B

 

As a big X-Men fan, I was really eager to give X-Men: The Official Game a try. The game offers fans a chance to see what happens before the movies, features vocal talents like Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, and has a cool Mutant evolution system to upgrade your characters. Sounds promising, right?

 

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The game starts off with the X-Men returning to Alkali Lake in an attempt to find the missing Cerebro components stolen by Colonel William Stryker. Little do the X-Men know that evil still lurks within the Alkali Lake facility, and a new master plan is brewing that will set the stage for X-Men: The Last Stand. You’ll take control of Wolverine, Iceman, and Nightcrawler, battle familiar enemies like Sabertooth, Multiple-Man, Silver Samurai, and Deathstrike, fight alongside Storm and Colossus, and master your mutant powers along the way!

 

As I mentioned earlier, this is a completely original story co-written by Zak Penn, one of the film’s screenwriters, and the legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont. The game will tie together the two movies, giving X-Men fans a glimpse at what happens in-between. Unfortunately, the story jumps around a lot and becomes a little hard to follow after a while. As you switch from one character to another, the story loses a lot of focus. Nightcrawler is chasing some ghosts around while Wolverine heads to Japan in search of Deathstrike. In the meantime, Iceman is putting out some fires. Huh? What the heck is going on here!?

 

The three characters each control very differently, with distinct fighting styles and missions that really take full advantage of their uniqueness. Wolverine’s levels focus on beating enemies down with physical attacks, Iceman focuses on speedily skating around on his ice sled thingy, and Nightcrawler is all about being agile and sneaky. I’ll admit, I was thoroughly disappointed by the number of abilities in the game. Each character essentially has a strong attack, a weak attack, and an area attack, as well as a few somewhat worthless combos. The lack of abilities makes the gameplay fairly shallow, and even though it’s at times fun, it doesn’t take long before it gets repetitive. Smacking enemies around as Wolverine can only be entertaining for so long before it becomes monotonous, and playing as Iceman is never fun to begin with. I did enjoy playing as Nightcrawler, though, as his missions are actually different from anything I’ve ever really played. Nightcrawler’s stages are filled with action and even require a little bit of thinking from time to time.

 

There are some light RPG elements here in the form of the Mutant Evolution System. Whenever you complete a stage, you’ll be awarded with new mutations, which you use to enhance your mutant powers. You’ll be able to increase your HP, attacks, HP recovery, and more. Each stage has three difficulty settings with the higher difficulty settings earning you more mutations. Once you learn a mutation, you can’t take it back, so make sure to think it through first. While I would have liked to see a little more done with the Mutant Evolution System, such as allowing players to learn new abilities, it did add a little bit of depth to the game. Of course, this is an action game and not an RPG like X-Men Legends, so perhaps I had too high of hopes.

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The game seems to feature large, expansive environments, but these levels are extremely restrictive. You’re often stuck in a single room for an entire level, and even when out in the open there are a lot of invisible walls that you can’t cross. Still, the environments do at least look impressive, with a lot of detail and variety. The character models are also very well done, and closely resemble what you’ll see in the movie. The camera is barely rotatable at all, which is more than likely going to cause you some frustration. Where are those enemies coming from? Which way is the door? It’s hard to find out with such an unfriendly camera.

 

Cutscenes are featured in the form of still-frame shots. I assume this was meant to heighten the comic book feel of the game, but the animation-less scenes with characters oddly walking about just don’t look right. Talents such as Patrick Stewart, Shawn Ashmore, Alan Cumming, and Hugh Jackman have their voices featured in the game. The voice acting here is pretty well done, which you’d expect from such stars. I just wish the characters’ mouths moved during scenes as they talked. There are a few really nice-looking scenes that appear to be right out of a comic book. Unfortunately they fly by so fast that you won’t have a chance to read them.

 

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By collecting hidden items throughout the game you can unlock new costumes for your characters. Fans that can’t get enough of the game will be able to go back through each level in order to find all the items and achieve 100% completion. Due to the size of the levels, most of the hidden items are so easy to find that it’s almost insulting to refer to them as ‘hidden.’

 

The enemy AI was perhaps the most disappointing part of the game. While I do enjoy beating the crap out of bad guys, it sort of loses its appeal when they’re too stupid to defend themselves. Most enemies can easily be defeated by simply running around a corner, allowing your HP to restore, then pouncing on them for a surprise attack. Even if they see you turn the corner to hide, they’ll be stupid enough to follow you and will likely sit and wait.

 

I’d like to note that I’ve also played this game on the Xbox 360, which is a total waste. While the graphics will be noticeably better for gamers with an HD-TV, the game is identical otherwise and costs $20 more! Going with either the original Xbox version or the PS2 version would be highly recommended to anyone who does decide to purchase this game.

 

When it comes down to it, X-Men: The Official Game is exactly what you’d expect out of a game based on a movie… extra story for fans, flashy graphics and good voice acting, but shallow gameplay and a short playthrough time. Still, it’s far from unplayable and does feature moments of fun. If you’re a big fan of the X-Men and want to get the entire story, then I suggest you give this game a shot. Still, it’s probably best as a rental.

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Final Grade: 64%

Screenshots

X-Men: The Official Game Screenshots

Videos

X-Men: The Official Game Videos

X-Men: The Official Game Trailer

 

Guides / Links

X-Men: The Official Game Guides / Links

X-Men: The Official Game Wikipedia Entry

FAQ/Walkthrough