Review by Mister Sinister

Reviewed: 08/21/07

Second instalment on the Megadrive/Genesis, and very enjoyable, but definitely not without its flaws.

FOREWORD

Follow-up to the reasonably popular X-Men (which I very much enjoyed) on the Megadrive/Genesis, X-Men 2: Clone Wars does not really pick up where X-Men left off per se - it opts instead to tell a completely different story ... another chapter in the lives of the X-Men so-to-speak.

Was this chapter an interesting read ? Or did it bore me to sleep ?? Read on ...

OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME

The Phalanx - a techno-organic race bent on assimilating other cultures and species into their collective (similar to the Borg, for you Star Trek fans out there) have set their sights on Earth, and begun to rapidly assimilate its inhabitants.

Those few mutants that have yet to fall prey to the Phalanx have united, and are on a mission to stop them before they can take over the entire planet.

... so ... just another day in the life of your average X-Man really !!

GRAPHICS - 9/10

The graphics in this title are considerably better than those in its predecessor, X-Men. Every sprite in the title has been given a decent rounding-off, and they look more detailed, better animated and more life-like than their regular X-Men counterparts.

As with the previous title, there are a large number of villains to contend with, and each has been handled in what I would consider to be appropriate detail. Apocalypse is VERY well represented - arguably the best in my opinion, but the standard across the board is very high.

The backgrounds and stages are decently done, but the emphasis has been placed in the foreground on the characters moving about, and it pays off during play it must be said.

The levels of animation are good, and the special effects (explosions, mutant powers and so on) are of a high standard throughout the game.

SOUND - 6/10

The sounds in this title are, regrettably, NOT as good as the graphics - however they are still of a decent-enough quality to contribute to your enjoyment of the game rather than detracting from it.

Explosions and incidental sounds are a little bit repetitive and, as with X-Men, there has been no attempt to include digitised speech in the title, so there is a general feel that perhaps, if the developers had put just a liiiiittle bit more effort into the game acoustically, it could have been absolutely amazing, rather than just amazing ... but as it stands it's perfectly acceptable.

CONTROLS - 7/10

The characters all respond well, and are happy to do as you wish so there is no controller-wrestling with them during play, which is nice.

Whilst they do feel somewhat more responsive than the characters did in X-Men, there are still times when you feel as though just a tiny bit more control over them when you are doing precise movements would have been nice. The clipping is fine, but sometimes you are forced to make long and high jumps, or repeatedly jump and then latch back onto the same wall higher up (thus climbing it) before leaping off to another ledge, and this can be rather frustrating after you've fallen off for the umpteenth time ...

The characters do have a slightly more floaty feel to them when they are jumping about, which takes a little getting used to I found - however, once you have the control method down pat, you shouldn't have any major problems with it - just the occasional minor annoyance.

PLOT - 7/10

The Phalanx always posed a great danger in the X-Men mythology, not in the least owing to their all-encompassing and rapid approach towards the assimilation of other species. Therefore you do feel as though you and your co-X-Men are under a fair amount of time pressure in order to meet your goals before you and your friends become assimilated, and one with the Phalanx.

This plot was used in a couple of episodes of the cartoon, so to see it playable in a video game is a welcome treat indeed.

There are a couple of handy plot twists as well, as old enemies become your new friends in what is effectively a time of great trouble for you all.

GAMEPLAY - 8/10

This game is easily as enjoyable to play as X-Men was - however the reasons for your enjoyment will be slightly different.

For starters, the character line-up is different. In X-Men you could control Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler and Wolverine. In X-Men 2: Clone Wars, you can control Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Psylocke and Wolverine as standard, and Magneto as a hidden character (not available from the start, but a few levels in).

Having a total of seven characters available to you rather than the four you had previously adds an element of variety to the game that makes it ... not MORE enjoyable to play per se, but perhaps more refreshing to play, than its predecessor.

The zones ? Well, some of them are familiar, some of them are not. What I found VERY strange was that the game just starts you off as soon as you power it up ! You don't choose "new game" or anything like that - you are LITERALLY just thrown into the thick of the action, with a randomly chosen character from the six standard players available to you, and must fight your way through hordes of the Hand Ninja, in order to get to what is, effectively, the title screen of the game.

Bit strange, but hey.

Additionally SLIGHTLY strange are the mutant powers you have at your disposal. They are all very well detailed, but their range tends to be a bit more limited than in other games (if you contrast Psylocke's Psionic Blade in this game with the same power in X-Men: Children of the Atom, for example, then you will see EXACTLY what I mean). There are also instances when you will feel as though the powers have almost been slightly cheapened, so that they do considerably less damage than they ought to, or that they do not really reflect some of the more major applications that the mutants put their powers to in the cartoons, comics, and so on (Magneto is an example of this).

All told though, the game is slick and enjoyable to play, and there are a fair few positives to counter any negative observations you might have.

REPLAY VALUE - 5/10

Few and far between are the enemies that you will NOT encounter in another title, however those that you pick up in this game are generally very well looked after, with detailed graphics and appropriate references to their powers.

The game's replay value is, in my eyes, marred actually by its opening level, as in my experience, gamers that come back to games generally don't want to go through the entire game from start to finish again - ordinarily they want to experience specific bits of the title (unless, of course, the game is one that they really really enjoyed). Consequently, forcing people to play through the opening level with a randomly selected character before they even get to the main menu screen is really quite bizarre, and not at all necessary.

It is for this reason that I certainly go to pick up the game, and then set it back on the shelf (although I have played through it a couple of times from start to finish just to kick Phalanx butt, as that's always cool).

VALUE FOR MONEY - 6/10

In spite of the hassle-factor of finding and securing yourself a copy of this cartridge, I believe it still represents reasonably good value for money. Whilst there are a number of minor irritations to the title, the general experience of playing it is a positive one, and it does represent a number of improvements over its predecessor - even though the overall experience of playing it is most likely on par.

OVERALL - 7/10 (This is NOT an average)

X-Men 2: Clone Wars is an enjoyable and graphically really quite beautiful title to play, which boasts a strong line-up of characters, plus the chance to play the Master of Magnetism himself (although you will be disappointed in him if you're thinking he's going to be as badass as he was at the end of the first game).

The animation is good, the enemies and levels are varied, and whilst the powers feel as though they have been tuned down a peg or two, it is still a fun game to play, and worth renting if not buying.

MAIN GOOD POINTS

* Graphics are really nicely done
* Animation is good throughout
* You get to play Magneto !!

MAIN BAD POINTS

* Magneto is disappointing when compared with his incarnation in X-Men
* The powers generally feel a little bit weaker in this game than others - you ARE the X-Men, after all !!
* The introductory level-concept is WARPED and I feel violated playing it - THAT is the reason I didn't give this title an 8.

SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?

If you find yourself a nice, cheap copy of the game then sure - go for it. I have no intention of parting with my copy because it fits the space nicely, but I wouldn't go back and pay full price for a copy having had the chance to play through it ...

If you are in any doubt then I would suggest you rent it rather than buy it. Once you have gotten past the introductory level, it does get a lot better ;)

Rating: 7

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