8. X-Men: The Official Game
2006 | Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, PC
Copies sold in US: Close to 500,000
Average score: 52%
Apart from Shadowrun's rich cyber-fantasy RPG world being turned into a shallow multiplayer shooter, it's hard to imagine a worse use of a license than X-Men: The Official Game. Meant to fill in the gaps between the second and third X-Men movies, The Official Game strapped players into the boots of Iceman, Nightcrawler and Wolverine, and then shoved them through a series of levels tailored to the powers of each. Sadly, every last one of those levels was either bland, repetitive or frustrating, and The Official Game stands out for somehow making a dull experience out of flying around on an ice sled and cutting down enemies with adamantium claws.
The company line: "For the first time, X-Men: The Official Game lets players truly experience the powers of three popular Super Heroes from the X-Men movie universe by allowing them to take on the roles of Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Iceman as they wield and upgrade their signature powers and maneuver through unique environments designed to showcase their Super Hero abilities."
What the critics said: Even the more laudatory reviews for X-Men: The Official Game had something to complain about. "I love a challenge, but I hate mindless repetition," said Game Chronicles' Mark Smith, who gave the game a 7.8 score anyway. Other critics were less friendly, tearing into everything from the game's crappy enemy intelligence and overall repetitiveness to its bland level design and useless camera. Wolverine in particular was singled out for abuse, as his levels - which made up the bulk of the game - were unimaginative, button-mashing slogs through hordes of idiot thugs.
The harshest criticism, however, came from The Onion A.V. Club. "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," wrote reviewer Chris Dahlen. "Even more disappointing than you'd expect."
Why you bought it anyway: Apparently, X-Men: The Official Game did really poorly for an X-Men title, but 500,000 copies sold is still far from a failure. We're going to guess it coasted into your home on the strength of the X-Men license, Wolverine's in-game presence and its arrival just prior to the third movie, and leave it at that.
What went wrong? Sky-surfing as Iceman was kind of neat at first (at least until the sloppy controls and frustrating objectives made his levels excruciating), and teleporting around as Nightcrawler was surprisingly tolerable. Playing as Wolverine, however, was nothing short of mind-numbing. Given the game's host of technical problems, it'd be easy to say that the rush to coincide with the third movie's release turned it into a slapdash production. But in reality, X-Men: The Official Game's design is so fundamentally flawed that it's doubtful any amount of retooling or polish could have made it fun. So we're forced to conclude that this is nothing more or less than a botched attempt to milk a license by people who had no real idea how to make said license work.
Most infuriatingly positive quote: In comparing X-Men: The Official Game to the stellar X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends II, GameZone.com's Michael Lafferty calls The Official Game "the best of the three titles so far." Then he stabs us in the eye with "The Official Game equals ‘official’ fun." Bear in mind, however, that these are only his opinions. And that they are dead wrong.
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