Put an X on this one

X-Men was born in 1992 as a flimsy arcade game and - we hope - it will die as one, with no more computer games beyond this lame one to serve as offshoots.

xmen disk 88 (photo credit: )
xmen disk 88
(photo credit: )
X-Men: The Official Game, a DVD-ROM in English by Marvel and Activision, distributed with a 24-page English-language user's manual, requires Windows XP and a 1.2 Ghz Pentium III PC or better, for ages 12 and over, NIS 219. Rating: ** X-Men was born in 1992 as a flimsy arcade game and - we hope - it will die as one, with no more computer games beyond this lame one to serve as offshoots. It stars only three "good-guy" mutants - Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Iceman (leaving out Cyclops, Colossus, Storm and Dazzler, except in minor, non-speaking roles), based on the characters of the same name under license from Marvel Comics. (Maybe Marvel had trouble persuading all the movie actors to voice in their game characters and succeeded with only three; there is no explanation for why the others are missing.) The piece of software was produced so quickly to capitalize on the movie of the same title currently on cinema screens that the distributor didn't even have time to translate the user's manual into Hebrew for local prepubescent male audiences. But since the film (the third in the series) ends with a cure for evil mutancy, there is room for optimism that it will be the final offering, and the movie knockoffs in the form of computer games will also breathe their last. If not, perhaps global warming will produce one positive result and melt Iceman, who in an early mission unconvincingly surfs on a frigid flying board over New York's Liberty Island, puts out the fires with his ice beams and protects himself from attack with his ice shield. I admit that it's nice seeing the Statue of Liberty up close (a native New Yorker, I never bothered to visit it because I thought I had plenty of time, but then I left permanently for Israel), but the fierce battle with Sabertooth, the steel-taloned Wolverine's enemy, distracts you from eyeing the scenery. You can't avoid this part, as it is one of the training sessions with each character that are forced upon you. After graduation from training and playing at novice, hero or superstar levels, you are introduced to two old men facing each other across a chessboard. They were long ago good friends who had one thing in common: Formerly humans, they evolved into more powerful beings with mutant powers. One of them, the evil Magneto (named for his metal-bending powers), is the enemy of the wheelchair Prof. Charles Xavier, who is threatened with a war that he must fight against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Colonel William Stryker, in a daring raid on Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, acquired two core components of Cerebro, the X-Men's mutant tracking and identification system, and also took some pupils hostage. Stryker was able to create a crude but working version of Cerebro for his own dark purposes, but a combined strike force of the X-Men and the Brotherhood was able to rescue the children - at the huge cost of losing friend, teacher and colleague Jean Grey, who sacrificed her life so the X-Men could escape and carry on Xavier's dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. Now the X-Men must return to Alkali Lake for the missing Cerebro components. However, it isn't worth a second's investment in trying to understand the twisted and confusing plot, not only because the game has very little to do with the third movie but mainly because all you have to do in the game is beat up, slash and shoot the bad guys and make the most of the good mutants' powers. Thus the disk has not gone beyond the level of arcade games. Wolverine, who has a bad temper, fortunately was built with an adamantine skeleton, knife-like claws and the ability to be quickly healed of his wounds; Iceman slips through his environment on his icy slide; and Nightcrawler is known for his ability to teleport himself to another site before you can blink your eyes. Plagued by a variety of small bugs and difficult to manipulate with a combination of mouse and keys, the game shouldn't be taken seriously, even by 12-year-olds. The only redeeming quality is the total lack of blood, and once enemies are floored, they mercifully disappear into thin air. Find some other way for bored kids to spend their summer vacation.