They say if something's worth doing, it's worth doing well, and the idea of an X-Men total conversion for Quake certainly sounds appealing. On first glance, the team behind the conversion, WizardWorks, have done a good job of bringing everyone's favourite mutants to the small screen, but I have to say that it's not my most exciting Quake experience yet.
Whereas Malice attempted to put something of a storyline into Quake, and really was a total conversion in the sense that the whole game dynamic was changed (no armour, being able to parachute and the like), X-Men isn't as interesting. Sure, the characters all look very nice. WizardWorks have really gone to extremes to show realism, down to the fact that Wolverine just keeps getting back up (thanks to his super-fast healing, non-fanboy) and the X-clone characters all get progressively more bloody as you shoot them up, but this tends to slow the game down, right when you need it to be fast. X-Men has really been created for GLQuake (not available on the Amiga) and it shows.
The game isn't even a total conversion as the sounds are from the original Quake, from the health pickups to the sound of the grenade launcher firing. There are new sounds for the X-Men, but that's all. However, the graphics are all new with bold metals and little shadow.
Unfortunately, even with new costumes on, the X-Men you're fighting aren't any more interesting than the grunts and ogres you face in the first levels of Quake. The only difference is that you need to continually pump rounds into the X-Men before they keel over and moan.
Facing each X-Man (or X-Lady; there are some you know), is supposed to be different each time. For example, some are immune to certain weapons. In reality, you just keep your distance the whole time trying out different weapons until you find the one that's most effective. You blast with that everytime you encounter the hero in question after your first battle.
Not only that, but where you were constantly surprised by the baddies in Quake, these ones are pretty predictable. WizardWorks have painted themselves into a corner by only using bright areas, but even so, just leaving the heroes on platforms waiting for you to pick them off? That's about as exciting as playing that reader game where you have to guess a number between one and 100.
...Once you've roasted your victim they just stand there, harred and skeletal, and then you can shoot them...
Talking of fighting the X-Men, why are you actually doing that? Surely you can't be the villain of the piece? Well, no. There's an introductory couple of pages in the manual, which pretty much just replicates the outside of the box, describing how the evil Apocalypse has cloned the original X-Men in order to take over the world. The not quite-so-evil-but-pretty-bad-really Magneto has strapped you to a table and given you weapons for arms and sent you out to get Apocalypse and find out who he's working with.
I know, I know, it's a plot worthy of an X-Men Strip, but even so, it doesn't work that well in the game. After you complete tasks on each level, you receive a telepathic hologram (whatever one of those is - it just looks like Magneto's face, covered with static and hanging in the air to me) which gives you advice and points you to a part of a huge weapon which is the only thing that can kill Apocalypse. If it's such a great weapon then why is it in his fortress in the first place?
Anyway, the game's still no fun, especially as it takes an age for your weapon arms to morph from one weapon to the next. The guided rockets are nice though, and the flamethrower's groovy - once you've roasted your victim they just stand there, charred and skeletal, and then you can shoot them and they'll explode, or you can shoot them and they'll explode, or you can punch them to bits. However, all the weapons are just Quake analogues. There's nothing new.
There are two good things I an say about this game. One is that, unlike Malice, there's some atmosphere in the music. The other is that playing X-Men in multiplayer mode is a lot more fun as you can all pick an X-Man or woman that you like and have a go. However, to play it this way everyone is going to need a copy of X-Men, which cuts down the number of possible deathmatches you'll come up against.
All in all, this isn't the best Quake conversion I've seen. If you haven't already got Malice then get that or the Quake Resurrection Pack instead. If you're still desperate for more Quake stuff, we've got a regular selection of some of the world's best free levels on our CD every issue.