Last year's X-Men Legends was a pleasant surprise. Rather than simply churning out yet another half-arsed thirdperson action-adventure game, as is often the case with these things, Activision instead produced a solid, action RPG based on the old Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance format: 20-odd hours of supremely satisfying dungeon crawling with a novel, comic book twist.
And that's exactly what we have again: 20-odd hours - plus the same again thanks to the significantly beefed-up story and level sizes that dwarf the original - of old-school exploration, stattinkering and monster-fighting. X-Men Legends II might not be the most groundbreaking of adventures, but what it does it does very well.
The major hook for X-Men fans this time is the ability to take control of not just the X-Men, but the Brotherhood as well, the rival mutant faction led by Professor X's nemesis, Magneto. The reasoning behind it is all a bit contrived, to be honest (and you'll need to be a real X-Men buff to get the most from the plot), but the amount of new characters and special powers the unlikely alliance opens up is frankly bewildering. It's almost too much at times, trying to keep track of the experience and equipment set-ups of well over a dozen different characters at once. That said, RPG fans will love the insane amount of stat-fiddling on offer.
Plus, never underestimate the power of a decent online co-operative mode, and developer Raven has duly obliged. It doesn't add a great deal in terms of how you play, but this is the sort of game that comes alive when played with friends. More of the same then, but it's still a good same.
Bigger, better and online, but hardly a technical advance over the original. Still a great romp for comic and RPG fans alike.