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December 17, 2005
X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse - Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
23/11/2005ActivisionActivisionVicarious Visions
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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Graphics are very nice on PSP.
So here we are. Activision have just released their PSP port of X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse which appeared on the PS2 a few weeks (you can check out our review here). If you did read the PS2 review keep in mind that the PS2 and PSP games are very similar, although there are some slight differences such as new characters, missions and Wi-fi gameplay which we've detailed below. Needless to say this is a superb title and well worth adding to your PSP library.

The original X-Men Legends on PS2 was not only one of the most original looking games, but one in which the gameplay was equally impressive. The X-Men universe is one of the most interesting in the super-hero world and indeed the game received critical praise the world over. Fortunately, sales were strong enough to warrant a sequel being made, and this game is the result. While X-Men Legends II was developed by Raven Software on consoles the PSP port has been handled by Vicarious Visions.

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Checking out your team.
The storyline in this game is as follows... After defeating Megneto and his army of Sentinel robots Professior Xavier (or Professor X for short) returns to the mansion to relax. Professor X is disturbed by some events he discovers while in Cerebro and detects some strange activity in Egypt. He soon assembles a team of X-Men to investigate. While they're gone however Professor X and Polaris disappear. It's clear they have been kidnapped and have to be found.

So X-Men Legends II is basically an action adventure game with some RPG elements thrown in. When you start the game you are to create a team of 4 mutants, selecting from 20 playable characters (four of which are exclusive to PSP) including favourites such as Wolverine, Bishop, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Storm, and Brotherhood mutants such as Magneto, Toad and Juggernaut. Not only can you pick all the characters from one side, but can also mix and match the opposing forces to fight together. When you play the game you are able to switch between these characters in real-time and also use his or her own attacks, with 10 super powers also available. As with the PS2 game it's possible to switch between these super powers with the press of a button to change your attack patterns.

As the game progresses you are able to upgrade your characters powers and abilities and in a rather neat touch can be done in real-time. During the game you will pass through over 70 different environments from the Mardi Temple to Egypt and New York City. These are gorgeously detailed and are sure to have you in awe on many occasions.

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Battles can get quite frantic.
The PSP game isn't just a direct port of the PS2 version, there have been quite a few additions. As mentioned above the game includes four new and exclusive characters including Dark Phoenix, Cable, X-Man and Cannonball. These are unlocked by completing either the Story mode or Comic book missions. As well as the new characters the developers have included 9 new missions for gamers to complete. Finally the multiplayer in this game has been reworked. Obviously you can't use a multi-tap like the PS2 so the multiplayer in this game is made available through the PSP's Wi-fi connections via either Ad-Hoc or Infrastructure modes. There's a slight amount of lag in Wi-fi modes, as is the case with all games, but there's nothing like sitting in a room with a couple of mates playing this game - it's tremendous.

The biggest issue we have with this game, and it's starting to seem like a PSP issue that is going to be almost impossible to solve, is the loading times which seem more frequent and longer then those on the larger consoles. Secondly we found some of the levels in the game very dark. While this is fine on a large TV, the PSP's LCD screen tends to loose detail in dark scenes making it hard to play in light areas (such as a train!). Perhaps the developers could, or should, have increased the brightness in some levels to compensate.

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Yet more great graphics.
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the graphics in this game are quite superb. The port to PSP is nigh on identical to the PS2 game which we started that "Rarely has a game looked so much like an animated comic book". The cartoon styled characters not only look simply brilliant but are superbly animated with a variety of attacks. Interestingly the PSP characters don't have the thick black lines around them giving a slightly more realistic look to the PSP game. Backgrounds also retain a comic book style and while they aren't vastly superior to those in the first game this sequel has a much wider variety of environments. The games cut scenes, which were worked on by Blur Studios, are simply gorgeous to look at. The only area which had to be compromised in the move to PSP is the removal of the right analogue stick to rotate the camera, but fortunately the camera system in this game is good enough that you'll rarely wish it was available anyway.

One area where the PSP can't keep up to the Playstation 2 is the sound. Quality wise it's still extremely good but as expected the game loses the surround sound effects which results in less immersion. Voice acting is superb with characters such as Professor X being voiced by none other then the legendary Patrick Stewart, Forge is voiced by Lou Diamond Phillips and Wolverine by Steven Blum highlight the impressive talent. The only voice we found disappointing was Storm. We're not sure if she's voiced by the same actress used in the first game, but it just seems a little less exciting this time around. Composer Gregor Narholz (who composed The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie) has created a fantastic range of music to accompany the on screen action.

This game has ported very well to the PSP, and even includes plenty of bonus content. If you’re a fan of comic books and/or action adventure styled games then this is an essential purchase. The production values, storyline and gameplay all combine to make X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse the best comic book adaptation of all time. This is an essential purchase.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSThe port to PSP, and the widescreen view, is very impressive.
SOUNDNo surround obviously, but everything is still quite fantastics.
GAMEPLAYAs with the PS2 game this is extremely enjoyable at all times.
VALUE15-20 hours to get through, but multiplayer adds some value.
OVERALLWithout a doubt this is the best comic book video game adaption of all time and the port to PSP has been handled very well indeed. In fact with multiplayer it's probably even better on the handheld system. An essential purchase for X-Men and/or comic book fans.

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