The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.
[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]
Game: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is an action RPG that has topped almost all lists of X-Men video games, including player-voted Ranker Games, and also screenrant.com who said the game,” improved on practically every aspect of the first game and delivered a highly satisfying sequel.” It is the follow up to 2004’s X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
Release Date: 2005
Developer: primarily by Raven Software
Genre/gameplay mechanics: Players can choose up to four characters to use at once from a larger roster of fifteen+. Players unlock additional characters as they proceed through the game. Four players can play on one machine cooperatively, and players can join or leave at any time. Online play for up to four players, a first for the series. As characters gain experience points their mutant superpowers and unique abilities can be upgraded. Items found during gameplay can also be equipped to further enhance a character’s abilities.
Setting: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is not set in any particular Marvel Comics universe. The game takes place sometime after the events of X-Men Legends. Locations include a military prison in Greenland, the fictional mutant sanctuary of Genosha, the Savage Land and Egypt.
Storytelling: It unites two Marvel Comics superhero teams, the heroic X-Men and the villainous Brotherhood of Mutants as they together face the mutant supervillain Apocalypse and his minions. Apocalypse, having witnessed the X-Men’s defeat of Magneto remotely, declares that the Age of Apocalypse is nigh. Prior to the game’s campaign, he kidnaps Professor X and Polaris for unknown purposes. The game begins with the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants uniting forces to save Professor X and Polaris.
Formats: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, N-Gage, mobile phone
- 2004 – X-Men Legends follows Alison Crestmere, a young mutant who has the ability to summon and control volcanic activity. As Alison is taught to control her powers at the X-Mansion, the X-Men are sent on several missions. Eventually, the X-Men learn of Magneto‘s plan to cover the Earth in darkness from his base on Asteroid M.
- September 10, 1963 – Writer Stan Lee and artist/co-writer Jack Kirby create The X-Men, a fictional team of superheroes appearing in The X-Men #1 published by Marvel Comics. They are among the most recognizable and successful intellectual properties of Marvel Comics, appearing in numerous comics, books, television shows, films, and video games.
- The 1930s (& earlier)-present – Explicitly referenced in recent decades is the comparison between anti-mutant sentiment and various discriminations, including anti-Semitism. Magneto, a Holocaust survivor, sees the situation of mutants as similar to those of Jews in Nazi Germany. Some regular characters are from other discriminated groups.
Adaptations set in the ‘X-Men’ universe include:
- Comics – most recently Astonishing X-Men Vol 4, and notably, Logan’s reappearance as Wolverine, popping his claws for the first time in fifty years in Wolverine Vol 3 72.
- Films – Rotten Tomatoes gave 93% to Logan (2017) saying, “Third time’s the charm. After whiffing on their first opportunity to give Wolverine a compelling solo outing with the calamitous Origins, then inching a little closer to snikt-worthy cinema with The Wolverine, Fox finally gave fans a properly grim and gritty third instalment.” In his top ten, TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde ranked X2: X-Men United (2003) top [85% Rotten Tomatoes], saying, “Still arguably one of the best superhero films ever made, this entry enjoys all the second-time-around benefits of any franchise where the first movie had to lay all the groundwork and tell all the origin stories.” Nine of Slashfilm’s crew matched these ratings, putting Logan just ahead of X2.
- TV Shows – after thirteen animated series, the expanding X-Men universe has added the two current live-action TV series, FX’s The Legion (2017-) and Fox’s The Gifted (2017-) directed by Bryan Singer. Which is better depends, as does whether they exist in the same universe as the movies.
Recommendation: The game was well received by gaming critics on all platforms. All platforms hold aggregate scores in the 80–85% range at aggregate review websites GameRankings and Metacritic. Critics felt that the inclusion of online play, additional mutant powers, and a larger cast made the game an improvement over its predecessor. Some reviewers were critical of the game’s voice acting and felt that the gameplay was repetitive. It sold enough copies to be added to the budget line known as PlayStation 2’s Greatest Hits.
As Hardcore Gamer said in its review of the top-five X-Men games, “Possibly the precursor to the Ultimate Alliance game, X-Men: Legends and X-Men: Legends II were two of the greatest superhero games to come out on the PS2…. The best was levelling up your powers as you went along, allowing your mutant powers to get even more powerful during the course of the games.”
Alternative ‘X’ thoughts:
X is also for Xena as in Robert Tapert‘s quirky and fun Xena: Warrior Princess franchise, which has become a cultural phenomenon and feminist and lesbian icon. With seven video games, this would have been a missed chance to revive my passion for Greek mythology, despite the weird co-habitation of myths and legends.
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