I'll be honest, some of my time over here in LA has been spent in comic book stores. Along with quite a bit of my money. So needless to say, a chance to go behind closed doors and see Activision's up-coming X-Men: Destiny was like a cup full of awesome sauce.
Brian Pass of Activision has worked on a number of Marvel titles in the past and he explained that Destiny will give X-Men fans a new experience in the much-beloved universe. Set in a time-line after Xavier's death, the world is still uneasy about the growing presence of mutants living amongst humans with the anti-mutant hatred led by a gang known as 'the Purifiers'.
The game's storyline introduces three new mutants to join the ranks of the X-Men for you to chose from and make your own. Although they weren't named, they seem to include a goth-like girl in a school uniform, a muscle bound football player and "the cool skinny guy with great hair". The cliche templates were cheesy and it was disappointing that players won't be able to completely sculpt their character and place themselves into the story. Thankfully though, Destiny includes a huge amount of customisation in the mutant powers department.
Throughout the game, you'll be able to switch power sets to suit your preferred style of play. For example you could be an energy based mutant with explosive attacks, or one that utilises speed or physical strength. On top of upgrading and unlocking new attacks and combos by completing missions, players can also collect tokens called X-Genes hidden away in levels. Each X-Gene corresponds to a well-known character from the X-Men universe and when collected, allows you to harness that particular power. For example you might gain the healing abilities from Wolverine, or the laser-vision of Cyclops. By the end of the game, players will have a massive assortment of powers to mix and match as they please.
The cast of recognisable characters in the game is already impressive and includes Emma Frost, NightCrawler, Wolverine, Gambit (the original comic-book one at that), Quicksilver and Colossus. As the title of the game suggests, you'll also be able to carve out your character's destiny and chose which side you want to be on. Each decision you make in the game will either ally you with the X-Men, or lean you towards joining the Brotherhood who are intent on wiping out inferior humans.
Without playing it, it appears that the gameplay is very reminiscent of previous Marvel beat 'em ups like Ultimate Alliance. Visually the game is similar too except for a stylish 3D comic-book presentation for menus and on-screen overlays. The demonstration ended with our hero fighting a giant thing of meat who was charging around soaking up mutant abilities and causing havoc. Adjusting to the big boss's different attacks did prove a challenge, even for our seasoned demonstrator. It's early days yet but hopefully this shows that this game isn't just a button masher with a cast of cool characters.
Coming soon: We check out Activision's other Marvel game on the E3 floor, Spider-Man: Edge of Time