X3 The Game picks up before the movie. In an interesting move, the developers, Fox and Activision, have decided to make the game a prequel which will lead into the movie. So it will appear to get the most out of the movie, you will have to play the game which, from a gaming perspective, is fine by us. Activision and Fox aren't releasing too many details about the actual storyline as yet and we weren't shown any cut scenes so we can't even speculate as to what the story is about.
The game itself is played from a third person perspective with a completely customizable three dimensional camera. There will be three main playable characters in the game; Nightcrawler, Iceman and Wolverine. We find it interesting that the developers have decided to focus on some of the lesser known X-Men and left fan favorites such as Rogue and Cyclops on the bench. However it was explained to us that many of the famous X-Men characters will appear throughout the game as Non-Player characters so they're not entirely benched.
What we also discovered was that each level has a certain character affiliated with it. It is impossible to play one level with the wrong character for a number of reasons. First of all the game won't let you (although perhaps with a cheat or an unlock code in the final game it might, who knows), second of all the levels are so skewed towards the character you're playing that it's somewhat impossible to do so.
We saw a number of levels during our showing and it demonstrated just how biased towards one character each level is. For instance, Nightcrawlers level was full of pipes and beams to jump around which looked like a level where you could lose yourself for a while just jumping from beam to beam, trying to make impossibly stupid jumps. Wolverines level was mainly focused around action and fighting which is of no surprise. You can actually remove his claws as well, and when we asked whether this had a purpose or if it was only there for aesthetics, they were unable to comment at the time of writing. Iceman's level was interesting although in our very early opinion, seems to be the least impressive of the three. As Iceman you will basically be in huge wide open areas taking on large characters. It was a nice change up from the other two, and we're sure our concerns will be allayed by the time it ships, which is still quite sometime off.
Visually the game looked quite good. The build we were shown was from the PS2 version of the game but it's coming out on Xbox, PS2, Xbox 360, DS and GBA. Yes that's right no PSP which is an interesting move. Even with this early code the framerate remained stable with multiple enemies on screen and during Iceman's level which had an enormous draw distance, the framerate didn't fault once. One thing we do have to comment on with the graphics is that the game was shown on a HDTV with what was most likely a standard PS2 connection so it's hard to get a true indication of how good the game can look from that configuration.
X3 will be an interesting game. Activision is taking a few risks by leaving out many of the famous characters as playable, but also enhancing the game's potential for success by providing a prequel to the movie for fans of the series. It may end up falling in the "yet another movie game" category, but from Activision's successful past with X-Men and the partnership with Fox and Marvel, it's hard to see that happening at this stage.
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