Monday, March 8, 2010

Mega Man X7 (PS2) Retro Review

Let's continue with some more Mega Man mayhem with something from the X series. It's the black sheep of the X franchise, Mega Man X7. Is it deserving of such a moniker?

Seventh Heaven?

Since Mega Man X5, the Mega Man X series has been on a bit of a slide. X5 paled in comparison to X4, X6 was full of cheap deaths and rush job sensibilities, so it all comes to X7 to save the day. With a brand-new 3D perspective in addition to the tried and true 2D, does Mega Man X7 offer compelling enough gameplay for veterans and fans of the franchise?

In the world of Mega Man X7, there are now two groups going after the same Maverick menace. One is the Maverick Hunter group while the other is Red Alert, a new group of bounty hunters who finish the job through any means necessary-- even less than noble ones. Axl, a young robot with the ability to copy and change shape, defects from Red Alert after growing sick of Red Alert's methods. This starts a war between the Maverick Hunters and Red Alert, but is there someone behind the scenes orchestrating everything? The story is told with stylized visuals and cut-scenes in-between each of the eight Maverick missions. Unfortunately, these cut-scenes are also accompanied by some of the worst voice acting to come out of the PlayStation 2. Some characters are merely tolerable while others like X and Axl are just abysmal.

This scorpion has one heck of a sting.

Mega Man X7 starts out in typical fashion. You start the game at the introduction highway level, taking out goons reminiscent of the good old days of the original Mega Man X, and proceed through the level taking out Mavericks. The twist this time around is that the game switches between a 2D and 3D perspective during areas. It happens so often that there's an indicator showing what perspective you're currently in. The 2D portions of the game are tried and true Mega Man X action, but the 3D parts have a camera that's difficult to control, gets in the way, and just becomes a hindrance most of the time. Thankfully, your Maverick Hunters can lock on to enemies in this installment making combat much easier to deal with in both the 2D and 3D perspectives.

Once again, there's eight Mavericks set loose upon the world, and the strategy for each is the same. Find the weapon that they're weak against to defeat them handily, otherwise it's a long, drawn-out fight with the mega buster, Zero's sword, or Axl's rapid fire buster. Some stages are entirely 2D while others are entirely 3D or a mix of both. They take place in areas such as a deep forest area, a magma plant, a series of tunnels, on top the backs of a fleet of airships, and more. Boss battles are also either in a 2D or 3D perspective. Sometimes you're in a 2D perspective while the boss is in a 3D one, allowing your character to fire off in the foreground or background. Regardless, working with the camera in X7 is a pain since it's mapped to the L1 and R1 buttons instead of the right analog stick like most 3D games on the system. This makes struggling with the camera while trying to fight a fast boss all the more common and aggravating.

Original Mega Man X, anyone?

There's plenty of side content to sink your teeth into. Each level has sixteen hostage reploids needing saving. Saving them will give your characters bonuses such as parts that can be equipped to boost stats, extra lives, increased life and weapon energy and more. Some of these reploids are placed in such precarious locations that they're near possible to rescue making for some frustrating times. There's also hidden heart tanks and standbys such as Dr. Light's capsules that can be uncovered in four of the eight Maverick stages. These give X the ability for increased movement, a glide ability, the option to charge special weapons, and increased weapon pick-up abilities.

One of the turn-offs of X7 is that the lead character, Mega Man X, isn't even available at the beginning of the blasted game. He must be unlocked by rescuing a set number of reploids. Another new addition is the team-based gameplay. Maverick Hunters now patrol levels in teams of two, and you can switch between partners with a tap of the L2 button. Unlike the sequel, Mega Man X8, when a partner passes on in X7, it's back to the beginning or checkpoint for both players.

Some boss fights incorporate a 2 1/2D perspective.

Mega Man X7 uses nice 3D models, but the level textures are quite muddy and not very pleasant to look at. When the action is fierce with lots going on, the game enters slowdown mode which is never fun for a precision platformer such as this. The music is rather catchy, but that, too, pales in comparison to previous entries of the series.

Ultimately, Mega Man X7 is a failed experiment that still happens to be somewhat entertaining. The bothersome camera does cause problems as does the mapping of the dash to double-tapping a directional button which caused me enough deaths. For those open to the idea of having Mega Man in 3D, perhaps Mega Man Legends would be a better choice. For everyone else, Mega Man X7 is a frustrating yet fun entry in the Mega Man X franchise.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.0/10]

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