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     " Though definitely not everyone's cup of tea, for the RPG/level-treading fans out there X-Men Legends 2 is a wonderful breath into a currently stagnant market. "

      Title: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse by Activision

      Format: Comic book roleplaying game

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: On the heels of its wildly successful predecessor, X-Men Legends II (XL2) brings back the same simple, roleplaying system but adds more powers, customizability, and a ton of new characters. But is it enough mutation to keep this franchise relevant? Read on and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Though markedly superior to the first, the graphics in XL2 just aren't enough to impress any but the most die-hard fans. The cell shading is nice, and the intent is clear, but when compared to other RPGs on the market it's just not enough to make you feel good at what you're looking at. And, for non-RPG fans who may be tempted towards the title because of the action/comic tie in, be prepared for disappointment…these graphics are not going to impress. 3 out of 5

      Playability: Simple and straightforward, play in XL2 puts players in a top-down view as they dungeon crawl with four characters (think Gauntlet with mutants). As you proceed you will be faced with hundreds of enemies of various origins, traps, puzzles, and countless objects to trash in hopes of finding goodies hidden within. This is not, however, a bad thing. It is a bit one-dimensional, I grant you, but as with most RPGs, it ends up being fun and pretty darned addictive.
          The game is primarily presented as a level-treadmill, you go out and kill (excuse me, you "knock out") enemies with your snazzy powers in order to level up and gain access to new, more snazzy powers. Each time you do you're allowed to take four mutants from a roster of a dozen of mainstream characters from the X-Men heroes and villains register, each of which features a basic and strong attack, as well as up to four mutant powers…which can all be chained in a seemingly-endless number of ways. This diversity, in both character choices and combat capabilities, gives the game some serious legs-provided that the concept appeals to you in the first place.
          If it does, you'll find the endless, and frequent, leveling and discovery of yet more dynamic combo attacks satisfying and well worth your time. The hard-core RPG-fans in our office, for example, have gone absolutely bananas over the ability to obsess on how best to create the ultimate combat-capable Wolverine.
          If that doesn't appeal to you, however, there won't be much here to peak your interest. Play is ALL about leveling and grinding through countless enemies, and gamers who expect to be more intellectually engaged will be left sorely lacking. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Fans of the comic books (and, who are we kidding, if you're interested in this game you're a fan) will find a ton of "in" references to make them happy in the otherwise straightforward story. Told through a number of in-engine rendered cut scenes, the story deals at length with Apocalypse' (the bad guy) attempts at world domination while the heroes, the newly allied X-Men and their former nemesese, The Brotherhoood, must contend with both their endless in-fighting and Apocalypse's armies. And while it won't do anything to advance the story-in-videogames movement it does serve as plenty of plot to get you on to the next scene. 3.75 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Unquestionably the high point of the game, XL2 is absolutely chalk-full of both replayability and multiplayer options. Since you have four characters on screen at any given time, the producers have seen fit to turn that into a very straightforward up to four player co-op mode that kicks total ass. Whether on the same Xbox or teaming up on Live, this mode, more than anything, gives the game a ton of longevity. It also opens the game up to a real element of strategy since players can focus their characters based on the team's needs. The game also allows for the use of veteran characters during replays (after you've beaten the campaign), so that combined with the sheer number of available characters means that you won't run out of ways to play XL2 any time soon. 5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Though definitely not everyone's cup of tea, for the RPG/level-treading fans out there X-Men Legends 2 is a wonderful breath into a currently stagnant market. With tons of options, nearly endless combos, and a horde of characters, those who relish in micro-management will find plenty to keep them happy.

      The Good: Lots of characters, goodies, and options

      The Bad: Definitely just a level-treadmill dressed up in a X-Men suit

      The Overall Ugly: Fun for the money

      What it's Worth: Market

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