29th Oct 2011 | 14:30
Are our lives predestined? It's a problem that's plagued the greats of human history, such as Plato, some physicists, and Bill and Ted - but the answer may be lurking in an unlikely place.
According to this latest X-Men title, our destinies are decided not by the whims of the universe, but by which mutant powers we nab during our lives.
There are a number of different 'x-genes' to acquire in X-Men: Destiny, which imbue certain abilities while permanently restricting other ones. If you want to see all outcomes of these tough character choices, you're going to have to endure the game more than once. Take that, Plato. Oh, you're long dead.
This would be a neat idea if this wasn't one of the shoddiest action games we've played in quite some time. As one of three new arrivals in the X-Person universe - a gothy Japanese girl, Peter from Heroes, and a self-hating mutant named Adrian - you're soon up to your neck in mutiehating terrorists after a fun day out at a funeral takes a turn for the worse.
During a mostly linear romp through the ruins of San Francisco, you'll encounter famous characters like Iceman, Toad and the original Smurfette, Mystique, although none seem too bothered by your existence.
There's the tiniest hint of an RPG in the open character development and frequent disjointed conversations, but this is primarily a game about fighting, climbing buildings and fighting your way to yet more exciting buildings.
As mentioned, there are a number of powers to choose from, including sticky energy grenades, energy mines and the Angel Wings area attack. And that's just from the ranged Energy Projection skill-set - we could have just as easily picked Mega-Fists or Shadow Matter blades instead, changing our entire fighting style in the process.
The problem with all this choice is that it's rendered moot by the game's frequently wretched frame rate, by its painfully muddy visuals, by its unsatisfying floaty combat and by the deeply embarrassing fact that there are only around two enemy character models in each environment.
Our very first fight consisted of 15 identical dudes crowding around us like wasps on a can of Tango. Unlike most of the bad games we make our captive writer, Tom, play in our oubliette, X-Men: Destiny is not without ambition and it has a few strong ideas.
That it's a cheap, sloppy, unedifying mess, then, makes it all the more disappointing.