X-Men: (insert clever game title)

About two weeks ago we saw the unfortunate release of X-men Destiny. Activision's new attempt to make a relevant X-men game. And like nearly every attempt before it, it failed. (Some may consider the two games for ps2 a success but they weren't much more than a button mash-fest that fell flat after the first few chapters.) In a little more than a week the video game and comic book community will unite int he release of what is shaping up to not only be hands down the best licensed property game in existence, but one of the best games of this year (possibly multiple years). That game is Batman: Arkham City. I would go out and say that the snippets of video we are getting of Arkham City look collectively better than the entire game of X-men Destiny. Arkham Asylum broke out huge and set the bar to which any licensed property game would be judged. Frankly a bar that, so far, will only be matched or raised by it's own predecessor. The thing that makes these Batman games great is what makes any game in the same genre (action/adventure) great. It's not just a button mash, wave of easy bad guys after wave of easy bad guys til you get to the boss and win the game. In between the spectacular combat are challenging puzzles, stealth missions where you have to use strategy, side missions to better evolve the story and experience. Arkahm City is reported to take around 20hrs for just the main story itself, I believe that is excluding the side missions (which include villains like Riddler and Deadshot). Between the release of Arkham City on the horizon, the launch of the new 52, and the X-men event going on I have been loosely putting together plans for how the end all be all X-men Game could work.

My favorite game (franchise) of all time is Uncharted, followed by Legend of Zelda. Both games that really define action/adventure for their respective consoles. The place where they succeed is they don't try to do too much. I just watched a video for Uncharted 3, where Nate breaks into a village and has to disarm a couple of baddies before he can even fight the rest and it's paced well, the number of enemies isn't huge but presumably like the first two games the harder the difficulty the weaker you are and the stronger they are. That's one thing that EVERY X-men game has ever failed at. They just send in 10 or more guys at once then you move onto the next room, same thing and so on. I think in order for the action to really make an impact you have to sandwich it between moments where you aren't being shot at but trying to figure out a puzzle, or investigating something that still takes attention, but it allows your adrenaline to slow down some (basically the opposite of most FPS). So THAT is the basis, the absolute foundation that I start with. It is important to allow some one on one time with the player and the main character. Lets do more than just blast through the level's.

Now some of you may be thinking "What about X-men Origins: Wolverine the game?" and again that game was solid but it was basically God of War re-skinned with Wolverine Characters.. well more or less. And I do still prefer re-skinning a great game as opposed to making a completely bad game. I would really prefer if X-men could do something that feels like it's own creation. A game that feels like nothing else out there. That can't be said of Origins Wolverine, that said though, that is the only X-men game to really accomplish good storytelling and that is a huge key.

Story:

Like any comic property, X-men are RICH with backstory. I mean 50 years, a lot has been told with these people. I mean from Inferno, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, Fatal Attractions and my personal favorite Age of Apocalypse and many more plus some awesome stand alone stories. That said, I am not fully confident that simply adapting one or more of these into a single game story would do justice to the story or the game. Arkham Asylum, amazing but it was more or less an original story that observed the history of Batman. There weren't any real changes to the characters themselves, it just didn't follow a direct story. You can't go into back issues or find a trade that this was inspired from. Same is said with Arkham City. Though they did write a comic inspired by the game, the game wasn't directly inspired from anything other than using these iconic characters in a new and fun way. I think for purposes of the game, that's the route to go with this X-men game. Create the story using everything we know of the characters thus far. Now I will be the first to admit I can't think of anything cooler than a full game in the universe of Age of Apocalypse because there the rules are a little different, there is even more freedom to make whacky ass decisions because it's not cannon and there's no one to say otherwise. Alternate realities are cool that way. But again I think especially for the first game we need to have an original plot with a clear beginning, middle and end to build around. Perhaps something like Magneto and his brotherhood have taken a major part of New York hostage, perhaps throw in some political figures since X-men is a very political property, and it is your job to stop him. Simple. The complexity arises when you ask yourself, how do you get into the situation without Magneto knowing, perhaps there are people you have to seek out to get further into the game, people with answers.I haven't really sat down to think of what the specific missions would be but I mean that's a great start really. Arkham Asylum, Joker and company took over Arkham, Batman goes through Arkahm finding clues and beating foes until he squares off. You fought Bane, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow and a couple hundred no-name inmates all while sneaking around and looking for Riddler Clues and such. X-Men, Magneto takes over a part of New York or particularly someone hostage, X-men track them down, look for clues, etc.

Game Play:

Now Batman is easier because he is a solo act. X-men have on a bad day 5 members (usually it's like a 100, lawlz). I would go with the classic lineup of Cyclops, Jean, Ice, Angel and Beast. For the main story I would obviously make Cyclops the main character with a few chances to play as Beast, Angel and Jean. I think one of the big speed bumps for X-men games is the fact that they are a team and game developers think that you have to be a 4 person team at all times. In a situation like this it's extremely plausible that the members are off doing their own assignments. So while they are working as a team they aren't all right there fighting the same people at the same time. In a way that really opens itself up for to have perhaps 3 or 4 different playthroughs as different characters which tell different parts of the story. THAT would be unique. I've even said that about future Arkham games and including Robin and Nightwing, to not include them in Bat's action but have their own part of the story to tell, instead of it all being behind the scenes. I don't think that is a stretch especially since Catwoman is playable in Arkham City story mode along with challenge room additions of Robin and Nightwing, each and everyone with their own feel, so it's not like re-skinning Batman four times. This is very similar to War For Cybertron. You could chose to play as an Autobot or a Decepticon and as the story for Decepticon ended the Autobot picked up right after. I think that is the key to getting the team dynamic to X-men down without over crowding the experience or the generic Marvel Alliance feel where you can interchange four characters at any given moment. I mean Marvel games and Activision can't really get these games down with ONE character should they really be trying to do multiple ones at the same time?

An alternative to the multiple story game is to simply tell it through Cyclops' point of view, allow interaction with the other characters the same way Oracle, Alfred and Jim Gordon do in Arkham Asylum (reserve options for post-Arkham City) That way you can have a pre-battle with each of the brotherhood mutants then for the finale the rest of your team joins you in a battle royale so you do get the moments of fighting side by side with other mutants but that doesn't overstay it's welcome. I personally like that idea a little better. I think the multiple playable character option is best reserved for a sequel as it get's expanded with the inevitable inclusion of Wolverine. But I really think it's a start. It's really something I want to add more thought to because I think if there is any potential for a successful X-men game it's in something like this. I think adopting the key parts of what makes the Arkham games great is fine because when you throw in the element of it being X-men will allow it to stand on it's own.

What do you guys and gals think? Would you be interested in playing an X-men game where you play through the story more or less on your own with periods of teaming up and then for the finale grouping up as a whole? Or is playing as a team the entire time essential to X-men? My response to that is why be a team if all four or five of us are all going to go do the same things any way, services are best rendered when you can let people do what they are best at, that still is a team and it's more realistic to how a team would function. But that's why I am putting this up I want input to know if anyone thinks there is something here.

I know I for one am tired of a game that wont let me play as one of the X-men members themselves. So I open it up to you, what do you think?

2 Comments

Cyclops and Wolverine are the new Magneto and Professor X.

I am pretty sure I will be treading on a topic that has been discussed a lot but I wanted to put my own thoughts to text on this. It seems like such an obvious comparison to most but I often wonder if they see it the way I do. I think Cyclops will be following Magneto's lead.. or at least more on the Magneto scale of things and Wolverine will be following closer to Chuck's ways. Which seems odd at first.
 
Back in the early 90s my brother always disregarded Cyclops as a boy scout chump and he was probably right. I think that's where my initial love for Scott Summers comes from. Wolverine was always the straight shooter, the renegade, you often wondered how long it would be before he went solo again. jump 20 years later Cyke has become far more conservative in his ways, rightfully so. He is the leader of an endangered species, now is not the time for him to be all hippie love, peace. He has to defend and protect his kind and I think now he is old enough to realize that if morals and ethics have to be crossed for the good of your priority then the juice is worth the proverbial squeeze. On the other side of the fence is Wolverine. Now creatively I think Logan has been mainstreamed and trimmed up for the sake of public appeal and since he is easily the most popular X-related character they don't want to make him too rebellious, so those are changes made for the sake of profiteering. But I think you can look at Logan's life and see why he would eventually come around to aligning himself closer to Xavier's dream of co-existence. Wolverine was used as weapon, a tool for war most all of his life. It wasn't until he joined the X-men when the option of peace was even an option for him. Early on we would see his struggles between his own gut feeling and Xavier's dream but I think now after all these years he is seeing that peace is what he wants but he will get dirty if he has to. Before the X-men anyone who died around Logan was collateral damage, he never connected to many people at all to have emotions for them should they perish. After being with the X-men and falling in love with Jean Grey and loosing her, befriending Nightcrawler and loosing him I think it opens the doors of sympathy and empathy for Logan. Now he knows what he has caused many people which creates a whole new slew of demons. Wolverine's priority I think is to keep those close to him safe and alive all the while try to help others do that same thing for themselves. I think it's particularly interesting because Jean Grey's death I think contributes a lot to why Cyclops has changed for the darker. So one incident changed two men in completely different ways. The loss caused both men to rethink their positions in life and now both end up almost flip flopping. 
 
Now we reach an interesting point in my whole theory. Uncanny X-force. First let me say this is hands down Marvel's best book to me. I loved X-Force when Kyle wrote it but I love Uncanny even more. Rick Remender has cemented himself a place in my top 5 favorite comic writers single handedly with this book (I have since read a lot of his other work which only confirms that statement). I love Uncanny X-Force because this is classic Wolverine in his element. Everything I loved about his character before Bryan Singer's movie turned him into a puppy dog is in this book. He is brutal, he isn't afraid to make tough decisions and do things others don't like. I will say that the evolution of his personality has reared it's head for the best. His concern for Laura/X-23 joining the original team, the whole Second Coming event/ Fantomex's murder of the Apocalypse Child and it really works well, it totally does add a completely new dynamic to one of my favorite characters. On a personal note I think that the other titles with Wolverine in them would FAR benefit from having THAT Wolverine in them the one that perfectly blends morality with brutality. That, TO ME, is WHO Logan/Weapon X/ Wolverine is. So the point I am trying to make here is, yeah my FAVORITE book is the one where Wolverine is a stealth, black op, assassin but what makes this book so great is that blend of morality and brutality.  Let's also note that it was Cyclops' idea to form X-Force. If there isn't any other point to prove that Cyclops' ideals aren't more aligned with Magento's, that's the only one you need. Cyclops was more willing to get dirty than Wolverine was, with throwing X-23 in the mix and telling Wolverine that's how it is, there's no discussion. Wolverine tried to be the voice of reason, arguing that this was Laura's chance to be normal and not a weapon, etc.... very Chuck Xavier.  At this time I would like to mention that in the alternate timeline, Age of Apocalypse, Cyclops was a villain. He was apart of Apocalypse's team. So was that perhaps a fluke coincidence? Or is there something that makes Scott Summers lean more to the dark side? I lean more toward the former, they couldn't have predicted what's going on now 16 years ago. Perhaps there is something in the psychology that makes us want to demonize the normally boy scout/goody good archetypes. Maybe there is something about the psychology of those archetypes that makes it easy to sway. Perhaps the passion that drives them to follow the rules is fragile and should a hole be discovered in those rules he applies that passion elsewhere.
 
With this Schism on the horizon and the announcement that the team will be split in October, one book for Cyclops' new team and another for Wolverine's new team I think we are witnessing the split of Magneto and Professor X, respectively. I have read a ton of books and while they have referenced Magnus and Xavier's split I have never actually read a book that told that story, well now we get it. Yeah, it's not actually Magneto and Xavier but it's certainly their ideals still battling. I find it very neat how Cyclops, who always said Xavier was like a father actually ends up more like Magneto and Wolverine, this violent weapon renegade ends up more like Xavier.  I don't think this was ever a plan, it's one of those beautiful things of story evolution. After 50 years all the story arcs, all the deaths, all the fights, politics, etc have actually changed a character. I can't really think of another title where something like this has happened. Sure Batman has gotten darker but at his core Bruce Wayne is the same guy he was 30 years ago. Sure lot's of things have happened but it's not like now he is willing to cross that line and kill people. His ideals and beliefs are still the same. Spider-Man same thing, has had a ton happen to him but still he's pretty much the same character that started 50 years ago. I don't mean this as a slight to those books or anything like that. I LOVE Batman for his integrity and undying quest for Justice. I LOVE that Spider-Man is still the friendly, funny neighborhood Spider-Man. I don't think they need to change. I simply think that's why I LOVE the X-men books so much and have for my whole comic reading life. I think that characters who live something for so long are more likely to change their ideals than hold firm. In a book where someone simply dresses up like a bat and uses gadgets to fight crime the unrealistic part is the undying integrity, the endless quest for Justice I think the fantasy that someone can be THAT good morally is the appeal because it is just fantasy. With how corrupt the people that run this world are it's nice to lose yourself in a book where someone is still the same do gooder he was 20 years ago. In a book where people have natural super powers due to evolution the realistic part is after living your whole life fighting for a cause you will always find the flaws and find problems with it and alter your agenda for what makes sense for you, which is pretty realistic. I think the appeal with that theme is change. Wolverine is someone who used to kill at the drop without questions asked but now he's much more hesitant, he at least now applies his moral code to things. Cyclops used to be the boy scout chump but now he's gotten dark, perhaps he has become jaded a little. I think the appeal is that they change realistically. I'm 26 years old and I look back at stories and papers I wrote for school and other projects and I'm a completely different person. I used to use a dating site back then as well which would ask questions about anything, politics, marriage, sex, right from wrong, etc, and not ALL the answers would be different now, enough would be to classify me as a different person.

2 Comments

Raider of the great Story Arcs!

So in my endless browsing here on the Vine, I have come up with a new mission: I am going to hunt out the great story arc single issues. 
 
This idea came to me as a challenge when  I was looking at the second Clone Saga and I realized that there aren't just people out there selling the whole collection, or at least not a lot of people.... if you are such a person, please, message me! 
 
It sounds pretty simple in concept but I think the execution could prove to be a great challenge, going to different comic shops to fill in the holes.. it'll be great! 
 
I think I may start with the second Clone Saga but I am still a little uncertain.  I did recently acquire Joss Whedon's entire Astonishing X-men run as well as the entire Second Coming story line... so I don't think I should limit this to just story arcs, perhaps I should include great creative team runs? Thoughts?

1 Comments

A collection left incomplete.

Recently I started going though my comics to order them in series and issue number.... and I was left with mixed emotions. 
 
I realized that there were issues missing from sets that I was certain I have read before... sets that I always thought were complete and it has lit a fire to complete them asap. It's almost sickening to me that they aren't. Well, okay, it's not THAT bad. I was happy to find that I have most of the issues from Green Arrow volume 3. I am missing about the last 15 issues. I was very un-happy to find that I am missing most of Green Arrow Black Canary though. 
 
I feel like I should have more Batman books than I do... perhaps have them more consistent.. but what can I do but move forward and just try to keep it strong. I have Whedon's entire run of Astonishing X-men which makes me happy, it was such a great run of comics. I have the first 25 of Wolverine Origins which I wasn't even a huge fan of but glad I have another complete block of comics. 
 
I was saddest when I realized that my Vol 3. collection of X-force was really scattered. I am missing like 15 books out of the short 28 issue series. So now I find myself trying to find the missing issues at a reasonable price via Ebay, comic shops and I just don't think it's going to be easy at all really. First of all, the first X-force series just infests ebay. Clearly no one liked that series because they are all trying to sell it, hah. I went back and read through the issues I had and I just love that book and I love what Remender has done with Uncanny even more now. I just wish I could get the missing pieces. 
 
If there is anything that was really accomplished in this, I have learned to not stop buying comics because it becomes such a hunt and expense to fill the blanks in later. Oy.

1 Comments

Trades or single issues?

So I always struggle with which I prefer. 
 
Trades make it so incredibly easy to read the story and get the info you need... but there is just something so awesome about having the whole set in single issues. It's almost like completing a puzzle when you have them all. 
 
Does liking one or the other really say something about a personality. Am I super materialistic because I like to have the individual issues? Am I lazy and/or cheap because I want to get books in trades? 
 
The advantage to single issues... it's maybe 25 pages (post ads) and you're done with that issue... .you can continue later if you want.... with a trade it's all right there... easy to lose yourself... both have a good side and a bad side.... I think this is something that will forever plague me... 
 
Though thinking about it... I have a comic box at my local comic shop, they have my card on file and will automatically pull the weekly books I want and keep them aside so I can pick them up later and not miss anything.. with a system like that I am almost always going to have the single issues.... so perhaps its environmental... maybe people with easier access to a comic shop are more prone to by individual issues and people who don't are just so satisfied to read anything they go for the trade.... interesting theories floating about here.....

13 Comments