Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

X-Men: The Official Game

Compared to say, the Hulk, the X-Men have never been easy to translate to a game console. Their classic stories proved that with great power come great neuroses, and the characters clinched their fame by struggling with their weaknesses, their personality tics—remember when Storm had a mohawk?—and their persecution complexes, which evoked everything from surviving the Holocaust to getting picked on in gym class. On top of that, their highly specific powers force them to work in a team, which is hard to capture in a single-player experience. None of this fits easily in an action game, and most titles just give up and reduce the X-Men to the most boring activity possible: clobbering.

But even by that standard, X-Men: The Official Game is one of the worst titles to use the property, and probably one of the biggest duds of the year: almost everything about this movie cash-in is cheap and incompetent, from the short, forgettable levels to the poor control system to the hand-crampingly repetitive action. Fan favorite Wolverine slogs through one tedious brawl after another. Piloting Iceman through drab steel tunnels is as joyless as performing a colonoscopy. While Nightcrawler's missions are the least painful, it's disturbing to watch him flop around like a broken-backed rat. And while this game ties into the movie X-Men: The Last Stand, which centers on the fears that the mutant gene is just a disease to be cured, or that it can grant more power than a human being can control, X-Men: The Official Game centers on characters slugging henchmen and breaking open crates.


Beyond the game: The story, which picks up after the second movie, explains why Nightcrawler is mysteriously missing from the third film: Alan Cumming was jealous of Kelsey Grammer's makeup.

Worth playing for: Legendary writer Chris Claremont helped with the story, though his contributions don't help anything but the cutscenes.

Frustration sets in when: Where to start? How about with Wolverine's camera, which won't even spin far enough to show you who you're fighting?

Final judgment: Even more disappointing than you'd expect.