Playstation 2 Games – X-Men Legends II

I played X-Men Legends II a long time ago and despite my love for superhero games and RPGs, I never managed to beat this game. So I really wanted to make sure that I was going to beat it if I had another chance. Well, my wish was granted recently and I was able to finally get another shot at this game.

 

x-men legends ii - title screen

Title screen for X-Men Legends II on the Playstation 2.

 

Let’s talk about my experience with the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time!

 

Game Basics

Like its predecessor, X-Men Legends II is an action RPG that was developed by Raven Software and published by Activision. You still control a party of four different X-Men, moving them in real time across different locations and in real time battles. This time around, the X-Men has to face Apocalypse and his army, who has become a serious global threat. This game still has RPG elements in the form of gaining experience, increasing levels, and being able to improve attributes and learn skills and abilities.

 

x-men legends ii - character status screen

You can view and modify each character’s stats, skills, and equipped gear on this screen.

 

There are a total of fifteen different playable characters that are unlocked after the initial tutorial mission and an additional three secret characters that you can unlock. Each one has a unique set of skills, which can be unlocked and upgraded via Skill Points.  I think there are twice as many skills in this game as there was in the first, making it impossible to max out everything. You really have to pick which skills to upgrade and which ones to ignore.

 

x-men legends ii - iron man gauntlets

Iron Man’s gauntlets? What are these doing here?

 

Like most Playstation 2 games, this has a Save system which is only limited by the free space on your memory card. You can save your game and change your team members at Xtraction Points scattered across the levels. Characters that are knocked out can be revived at Xtraction Points at the cost of Techbits, the in-game currency. This game also has co-op for up to four players but I only played this by myself. Outside the main game mode, you have a Skirmish and a Sparring mode that can be played against the A.I. or other players.

 

Playable X-Men and Team Composition

Not everyone from the first game made it to the sequel. The ones who made it as playable characters in X-Men Legends II are Cyclops, Colossus, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine. The developers added Bishop and Sunfire as new characters, as well as Brotherhood members Magneto, Juggernaut, Toad, and Scarlet Witch.

 

x-men legends ii - ice bridge

Iceman was a frequent substitute for my team because of his bridge-making ability.

 

They all have different attributes and skills that represent their comic book characters. Because of this, characters generally serve specific roles for your team. Colossus, Wolverine, Rogue, and Juggernaut are melee fighters and tanks. The ranged combat fighters are Cyclops, Storm, and Magneto. Others have support skills, like Jean Grey and Scarlet Witch. There are also some abilities limited to certain characters that are needed in order to progress, such as flight, the ability to build bridges, and teleportation.

 

x-men legends ii - brotherhood

You can now play as Magneto, Toad, and Juggernaut in this game!

 

An additional mechanic that you need to keep in mind are special team bonuses that you can get based on the members of your team. Running a team of all Brotherhood members will let you earn 5% more experience points. You can be extra strategic with your team building to maximize effectiveness. I want to love the new roster and the team bonus but I don’t. I would have preferred the Brotherhood members from the previous game (Sabretooth, Avalanche, Pyro) to be part of the roster instead of Scarlet Witch and Sunfire. The team bonus was nice but I wasn’t able to use it because none of the thematic teams that had bonuses felt right to me.

 

Steps Forward and Backward

Let’s talk about what changed in X-Men Legends II that I liked and didn’t like. Not counting the secret characters, all of the playable characters were available very early in the game. In the first, some characters only get unlocked once you’ve made significant progress, which made Psylocke and Emma Frost hard to appreciate. That’s not a problem in this game. You also had access to their alternate costumes early. This game was based on the Ultimate X-Men comics so the default costumes were based on the Ultimate X-Men uniforms. Honestly, it felt better to play Cyclops and Wolverine their Astonishing X-Men uniforms.

 

x-men legends ii - roster

My X-Men team.

 

The level cap was increased from 45 to 60. The developers also added a New Game Plus mode where you could carry over previous stats and gear, which was a glaring omission from the first game. You can replay game with an entirely different team now. I think that’s the reason why the developers lowered the amount of experience that gets shared to your inactive characters. Previously, it wasn’t hard to keep the characters at relatively similar levels. But here, the characters that you don’t use really get left behind. This game feels like it was meant to be played with just a few characters.

 

x-men legends ii - mission briefings

Mission briefings with Professor X.

 

Unlike the first game, this game doesn’t have a main character. X-Men Legends had us view the game’s events through Magma. There were gaps in the action where we would be in her shoes as she talked to each of the X-Men. That approach helped give each character the chance to show their personality. The best we have in this game are the mission briefing scenes. In these, the characters would exchange barbs and banter with each other while discussing the upcoming mission.

 

Quality of Life Additions

X-Men Legends II had several additions that made playing it a better experience compared to the first game. First is the addition of the Blink Portal, which you’ll be able to unlock as soon as you rescue Blink. It works similarly to Diablo’s Scroll of Town Portal spell, allowing you to teleport from almost any stage to your current base of operations. Unlike the popular Diablo spell, the Blink Portal can be used any number of times. The only restrictions are that you can’t use it during boss battles and it has a cooldown period of 5 minutes after use. It is very helpful because you no longer need to go to the nearest Xtraction Point to sell gear or change team members.

 

x-men legends ii - blink portal

Blink can transport you back to your base of operations quickly.

 

The developers also allowed you to revisit previously beaten stages, which wasn’t possible in the first game. In the first game, if you missed a collectible item, you were out of luck. You’d need to replay the entire game from the beginning if you want to get all collectibles. Aside from letting you backtrack, the game also has a Review screen which tells you how many collectible items you found in each Act, as well as how many there are remaining.

 

x-men legends ii - review screen

No need to consult guides to know if you’ve already collected everything in an Act.

 

Finally, there are three secret characters that you can unlock, and two of them can be unlocked in your first playthrough. Yes, you can’t play as them until late in the game but they really feel like bonus characters, unlike Psylocke and Emma Frost in the first game. The third secret character is unlocked after beating the game once, which I think is a good bonus for doing additional playthroughs.

 

Enemies and Boss Battles

I thought that X-Men Legends II wouldn’t be able to match the roster of villains that was in the first game. And early on, I thought I was right. The first two bosses that you’ll face in this game are obscure characters like Grizzly and Zealot. But I was completely wrong. The developers managed to justify including more of the popular X-Men foes like Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, and Sauron.

 

vs Sauron

Ranged attackers are handy against flying opponents like Sauron.

 

I know that the Age of Apocalypse storyline was very popular with comic book fans, and this game drew a lot from it. You’ll fight against Age of Apocalypse characters like Sugar Man, Abyss, and Holocaust. Some of the playable characters have Age of Apocalypse costumes that you can use. I’m not a fan of that storyline but I still appreciated their inclusion as bosses.

 

vs Abyss

Battling Abyss, one of the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.

 

I really loved how the boss battles in this game aren’t straight up fights. Most of them had special mechanics that you needed to work around. The battle with Abyss, for example, was a three-stage battle. You needed to beat Mikhail Rasputin’s minions at a certain spot to turn them into terminals that allowed you to turn his shields off. And you needed to turn off or destroy energy generators in order to defeat the Living Monolith and Apocalypse. The final battle with Apocalypse had you dealing with him plus clones of his four Horsemen. These battles were really intense and I really got into them.

 

Visuals, Sound, and Presentation

I loved the graphics of X-Men Legends II. This has the same cel-shaded graphics that the previous game had, so the heroes and villains really stood out. You get to visit different locations in this game and they were really represented well. The New York City streets really look like they just had hell unleashed on them. The Egypt stages really look like abandoned ruins.

 

x-men legends ii - cutscene

The X-Men and the Brotherhood are going to work together.

 

Another improvement from the first game is the sound design. This game’s stage themes are so much better, especially after the Genosha and Savage Land areas. They’re much more memorable compared to what was used in the first game. There’s still a lot of voice acting here, with actors that are really good in their roles. My biggest problem is with the lines that are said whenever you’re calling for a combination attack. Their lines make the characters seem weak. Cyclops yelling “My enemy’s too strong, I need help!” and Iceman screaming “Get this guy away from me!” is very out of character.

 

vs Apocalypse

The final battle with Apocalypse.

 

Finally, the game’s presentation is excellent. The HUD and menus are clear and easy to understand. There are several animated cutscenes that are a treat to watch. Loading screens feature illustrations of the different playable characters and boss characters.

 

Final Thoughts

Now I know why I didn’t finish X-Men Legends II years ago, when I first played it. I made the mistake of trying to level each character up, which became a boring grind. This game wasn’t designed for that, and instead should be played multiple times with different characters and/or teams. I was assuming that I wouldn’t like this game as much as I did the first one because I wasn’t impressed with the initial boss characters. But it’s actually a lot better than I expected it to be. I still think replacing Sunfire with another character, preferably a Brotherhood member, would have made this game better for me, but that’s nitpicking.

Like the first game, X-Men Legends II really holds up well. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to play this again and finally beat it. The two X-Men Legends games are definitely games that comic book fans must play.

 

For more video games based on the X-Men, click here. If you want video games based on Marvel characters in general, click here. And click here to check out every Playstation 2 video game that I’ve played.

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