X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse aims to address the shortcomings of its direct predecessor. The original was a console-only release that featured rather standard character archetypes instead of unique powers and was often criticized for having a narrow perspective. We canít, unfortunately, say that the viewable area has improved much in the sequel but character design has changed significantly.
For starters, the player is no longer limited to using X-Men. This time around, the X-Men and the Brotherhood have teamed up to fight the growing menace of Apocalypse. The cast of characters isnít entirely complete; certain prominent characters on both teams are unavailable for various reasons. No doubt in cases such as the Blobís, this was due to the lack of powers that could be imagined Ė and for others like Mystique it is likely because her abilities arenít that applicable to the game environment. Other characters are unavailable for plot reasons. The PC version also has a couple extras like Pyro and Sabretooth, and all platforms have unlockable characters like Deadpool and Iron Man.
The main differences lie in how powers are structured. No longer are abilities carbon copies of each other with just different names tagged on. Raven Software has now varied things up with different types of mutant power attacks Ė varying in power, how they do damage, the area and direction. There are also more passive and boost abilities that replicate defensive and group powers of the character in question, ranging from boosts to certain attacks to group buffs to increase attack ratings. For all this, there are still many powers that are very similar if not identical across mutants Ė we merely have more variety, enough so that Juggernaut plays quite differently from Colossus.
With these characters and their mutant powers, the player is unleashed upon level after level filled to the brim with enemies. The maximum view range of the screen is barely enough to cover smaller rooms, but this view range is also what activates enemy AI and every
room has something or something to smash. Itís a little like Diablo in that respect, but even more claustrophobic Ė if thatís possible. The presence of three other friendly characters on the screen certainly adds to the crowded feeling. Combine this with the sheer amount of destructible objects, items to throw and of course the mutant power special effects and you end up with a very crowded, chaotic game environment.
Nominal tasks are presented to the player as an excuse to walk through maps that arenít particularly realistic, and slay all who face him. Usually, youíre smashing something that is important to Apocalypse, though of course along the way you often have mini-tasks to pick up keys or hit switches. Itís really not much more involved than the red keycard paradigm from the old Doom games, but when it comes to giving you a reason to solve problems with the help of Mr. Smashy, we canít say weíre very particular.
The number of powers and the presence of three AI- or friend-controlled allies adds a certain amount of spice to the formula that would otherwise be missing. Of course, the ability to play your favorite heroes and villains from the X-Men universe certainly helps, especially with the excellent voice work. The writing isnít particularly impressive or involved Ė this isnít a BioWare RPG Ė but for an action RPG itís sufficient.