X-Men: The Official Movie Game First Look

Activision has done pretty well with games based on Marvel's comic book properties. The Spider-Man games developed by Neversoft and more recently Treyarch, and the X-Men Legends games developed by Raven, have been well received by fans looking for action romps featuring the well known superheroes. Now the publisher is handling the official game adaptation of the upcoming X-Men: The Last Stand, the first true tie-in in the current series of X-Men films. The game, which has a somewhat awkward working title of X-Men: The Official Movie Game, is being done by Z-Axis, best known for the Dave Mirra BMX series of games.

The Official Movie Game will fill in the gaps between the end of X2: X-Men United and the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand. Much hullaballoo has been made over Nightcrawler's absense from the upcoming film given his impressive scenes in X2, and the game will explain just why he's sitting it out in the movie. TOMG's "climactic ending" will lead directly into The Last Stand, which contains elements such as the Dark Phoenix arc, for those of you who knows what that means. The story is being written by Zak Penn, one of the writers on the second and third films, and Chris Claremont, a driving force behind the X-Men since the 70s. In depth details have not yet been revealed, but locations such as Alkali Lake, the Statue of Liberty, and Dark Cerebro will be visited.

In gameplay terms, don't expect a sequel to X-Men Legends. This game is more of a straight action brawler, not an action/RPG hybrid. There are three playable characters: Wolverine, Iceman, and Nightcrawler. You won't be forming a party in this game; rather, each of the game's 28 levels features one of those three characters and is tailored to that character's unique abilities. Wolverine, being Wolverine, is the brute strength character. He has a variety of close combat moves and a special meter which will build up to allow the use of particularly destructive attacks. Iceman travels entirely by way of an ice slide which he constructs on the fly, indicating one way the level design will tie into the use of each particular character. Finally, Nightcrawler seems to be the most intriguing of the three. He's able to scale walls as well as "BAMF," the term used for his short-range teleportation ability. This should facilitate survival against multiple enemies despite Kurt Wagner's not-quite-Wolverine physical stature, as he executes fast-paced attacks while BAMFing all over the place (that sounded kind of gross). Expect it to also lead to plenty of platformy puzzles on his levels.

Unlike in Legends, all of the characters in TOMG will begin with all of their powers; again, this is a more traditional action game. However, there will be bonus objectives in each level allowing the characters to permanently gain strength, if not extra powers (this is apparently called the "Mutant Evolution System," also known as "you know, like when you find heart pieces in Zelda"). The game will feature various types of gameplay, including some stealth bits that have not yet been revealed. There will also be levels in which the controllable character is accompanied by other non-playable X-Men. Unfortunately, like most movie games, there is no cooperative mode or other multiplayer, even in those sections.

Z-Axis is developing the game for PS2, Xbox, and Xbox 360. Hypnos, which worked on several Lord of the Rings games, is handling the GameCube version, and frequent Activision porter Beenox is working on the PC version. Versions of the game for Nintendo DS, being developed by Amaze Entertainment, and Game Boy Advance, by WayForward, will contain characters not available in the home console versions, though they have not yet been revealed. The game is currently set for a May 2006 release, surprisingly soon given how little of the game has been shown so far.

Click here for an extensive gallery of concept art from the game.