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The latest entry into the seemingly endless Megaman universe comes in the form of the seventh game in the X series. Capcom has opted to take our favorite blue bomber into the third dimension and it comes as no shock that some of the magic has been lost.
Joining Megaman on this journey is long time friend Zero as well as a newcomer named Axl and like previous games in the X series you will spend your fair share of time playing as characters other than the one that dons the game's namesake. Taking the game into 3D was probably Capcom's first mistake their second coming from the fact that they threw in some elements of the original formula to try and drag you into the new style. The end result can be enjoyable at times but for the most part it leaves you, and especially Megaman faithfuls such as myself, a little less than satisfied.
To bring our beloved hero into the third dimension Capcom has opted to use the now famous cell shading technology. Using bright colors and lots of flash the game does plenty to please the eye. The level design should seem familiar if you have played any of the previous Megaman X titles and the enemies both new and old bring the flare that has become tradition. From the get go you are forced to play as Axl, a character that uses a lock on technology which will be a new experience for old school MM fans. Later on Zero is introduced and then finally you are able to take on the role of X and finally get to play as the blue bomber. What can really drag down the game is the excessive and over dramatic storyline, you are treated (or held against your will) to several cut scenes that slowly explain to you that there will soon be a wat between good and bad. The poor english voice overs and the inability to skip them make it more of a hassle than a treat.
Taking the tride and true formula of 2D side scrolling action and delivering it into 3D has done more than it's fair share on the playability of X7. While the 2D portions seem perfectly balanced you will find yourself frustrated and continuing more than you would like once the game switches styles. For some reason MM has never really been a good 3D title and perhaps it should remain that way. Along with his lock on style Axl can also use a floating move that allows him to cross longer gaps, the fact that the game allows you to switch between characters at any given moment is a plus. What does suck though is that when encountering enemies you will more often than not opt to use Axl simply because of his lock on especially in the 3D situations where MM's blaster seems almost useless.
It seems as though this game couldn't get any more disappointing then we come to the music. What is traditionally a score that keeps you humming along X7's tracks seem like more of an after thought than anything else. Lousy techno beats with futuristic sound effects that are sometimes enough to shut the music off entirely. Add this to the absolutely atrocious voice overs and you have a completely lacking audio package. The only saving factor are the sound effects, then of course Capcom has been using the same stock once since it's incarnation. The game doesn't really push the Dolby Pro Logic II setup so if you decide to play through no worries if your sound system is less than stellar.
To be honest I was looking forward to this game despite the lousy reviews and disappointed Japanese players. I have been a fan of the series since the first MM game on the NES and I can not let one come out without giving it a go. This game ranks up there with such disappointing MM excursions as Legends and some of the later games on the NES. For the fans it's worth one trip through simply to experience the blue bomber on your PS2 but after that it will sit and collect dust so I recommend waiting for a price drop. Chock another one up in the lose column for my once beloved franchise and once again Capcom I beg you, give me a 2D MM and preferrably make it Megaman 9. Here's to the long wait for the collection coming next year. If you must play this I recommend making it a Blockbuster night!
GameDiscovery.com : Playstation 2 : Megaman X7 Review : Action