Review: Mega Man X Command Mission (PS2/GC)

Genre: RPG
Platform: PS2/GC
Rating: E (Everyone)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 3
Release Date: 09/21/2004

Mega Man and role-playing games. Whoever thought that the two would mix? Sure, we’ve gotten the excellent Mega Man Battle Network series, but that’s a completely different Mega Man specifically designed for the RPG genre. With Mega Man X Command Mission, we’ve got an established character from a long-running platforming series jumping headfirst into the RPG world (hey, Mario pulled it off!). Luckily, the Capcom team that made Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter also created MMXCM, so we’re not stuck with RPG newbies bringing a cherished video game character into a new genre. So how’d MMXCM turn out?

STORY

X is a Maverick Hunter; a Reploid (robot) dedicated to bringing down other Reploids who have gone bad. Joining him in his crusade is Zero (the last creation of the evil Dr. Wily) and numerous other operatives, many of whom are new for this game. X and crew are tasked with finding out what happened in Giga City, where Epsilon and his group of Mavericks have formed a Rebellion. Complicating matters is that some citizens have taken to fighting the Mavericks on their own terms, forming a Resistance movement. Finally, the world government is threatening a full-out military assault! Not good. As you can imagine, X has his hands full taking care of business here. He’s got his old friends like Zero and Axl to help him out, plus plenty of new characters, like Spider, Massimo, and Cinnamon. Believe it or not, that’s the entire story in a nutshell: stop the Rebellion’s actions on Giga City. Very scifi-RPG cliche, unfortunately, and nowhere as deep as games like Xenosaga or Tales of Symphonia. Still, the story fits the setting, and isn’t horrible. It should also be noted that this game takes place in the year 22XX; the other MMX games all took place in 21XX, including the upcoming Mega Man X8. The differences in X’s armor also suggest that this is significantly further down the timeline. (Rating: 6/10)

GRAPHICS

Cel-shading reigns supreme here. On both the PS2 and Gamecube, the graphics are smooth and fluidly animated, though the ‘Cube version does look a bit nicer. Most of the character models are very detailed, and all of the special effects for various attacks and explosions look fantastic. Generic enemies, however, look just that: generic. Some “classic” MM villains are back, like Metools and such, but the cel-shading seems to remove some of the detail from them, especially from some camera angles. (Rating: 7/10)

SOUND

The music is what you’ve come to expect from the MMX series, especially from MMX4 onward. Plenty of synths and guitars fusing into a techno-rock mix that serves a science fiction game very well. There’s plenty of voice work here, including full voice acting for cutscenes, and the expected verbal shouts and taunts during battles. The script is rather cheesy, but the VAs do their best with what they’ve got, and the English speech is by no means the worst we’ve ever heard. You won’t love it, but you won’t be jamming pencils in your ears, either. In fact, some of the voice work is an absolute laugh riot! Example? When X takes a critical hit during battle, he’ll often shout “Oh, shoot!” Now that’s good comedy. You know he wanted to drop an S-bomb, but I’m sure that the Reploid censors wouldn’t have been pleased. (Rating: 7/10)

GAMEPLAY

The gameplay is generally RPG-standard. All of the clichÃÆ’Æ‘�?ÃÆ’Æ‘�ÃÆ’‚ÃÆ'”šÃ‚©s are found here: you run around in the field, grab items, have random encounters with foes, and eventually fight bosses. Once in battle, you’ve got your usual menu of options: attack, attack with a subweapon, defend, use items, run, and so on. Characters all have their classic weapons; X with his X-Buster, Zero with his saber, Axl with his dual pistols, etc. You’ve also got subweapons, which use up weapon energy…but luckily, your weapon energy recharges slightly each turn. In the lower right corner of the screen is a display very similar to the one in Xenosaga, where you can see who’s going to attack next, be it an ally or an enemy. This display also has a bargraph of allies’ and enemies’ life energy levels, so you plan to use powerful attacks to finish off enemies who are running low. “Action Triggers” let characters use a secondary function of their primary attack; X can charge his X-Buster, for example. Another handy option during battle is “Hyper Mode,” where you can power up a character for a set number of turns. This gives them access to added attacks, stat changes, and they generally inflict more damage. How long Hyper Mode will last varies from character to character, and it’s generally best used during boss fights. Finally, if you’ve got three characters in your party, you can perform a “Final Strike.” This is accomplished by reducing an enemy’s life energy by 75% or more during a single turn. When you do, all three of your characters get to attack repeatedly, racking up a monstrous combo chain and inflicting insane amounts of damage on every enemy on the screen. If you’re facing a group of tough baddies, Final Strike is definitely the way to take ’em out. (Rating: 6/10)

REPLAYABILITY

There’s plenty of items and such to find, but due to the game’s relatively linear layout, going back to find stuff you’ve missed can be either difficult or in some cases impossible. The game’s broken up into chapters, and after completing some, previous areas are a pain to reach. Usually this isn’t necessary, as you’ve got the usual key items you must acquire to keep going. Once you complete the game, you likely won’t feel any pressing need to replay it. (Rating: 4/10)

BALANCE

A smart thing Capcom did is to make X and friends powerful from the get-go. This makes sense, considering that X has been a Maverick Hunter for many years, and he’s naturally got a load of combat experience. As such, your attacks will often inflict plenty of damage, and you can take a beating. But rather than completely offsetting any difficulty the game may have, this serves to bolster it, as later enemies will use their own combat experience against you. Sure, you’ve got the usual lackeys to pummel on, but boss characters are powerful enough, and often require some serious strategic thought to learn their patterns and save your characters from a painful shutdown. (Rating: 8/10)

ORIGINALITY

While the character and setting of MMX certainly isn’t new, throwing him into an RPG definitely is. Thankfully, like Mario, X makes it into the RPG world without any serious problems. Transferring his weapons and other abilities into an RPG worked quite well, even with absolutely no platforming to be found! (Rating: 7/10)

ADDICTIVENESS

The game is relatively short; it’ll keep your attention for the 15 or so hours necessary to complete it, but beyond that, who knows. It think it really depends on how much of a Mega Man fan you are; that’ll determine how much and how often you play and/or replay the game. RPG fans in general may enjoy it, but the short length might be a turnoff. Plus, there’s no swords ‘n’ sorcery, and a large contigent or RPG fans simply must have that. (Rating: 7/10)

APPEAL

Naturally, Mega Man fans will snap this right up, and rightly so. It’s a great inroad for the MMX series, and if it does well, we’ll see more. Hardcore RPG fanatics will likely dismiss it, but this really is a perfect game for MM fans, casual RPG fans, and even RPG newcomers. The scifi theme works out great, and you really can’t go wrong with robots whomping the crap out of each other. (Rating: 8/10)

MISCELLANEOUS

The two versions of the game are essentially identical. The only divergence is that the PS2 version has a demo of MMX8, and the GC version lets you use your GBA as a treasure finder. Without the GBA, the treasure finder is simply part of your menu screen; that’s where you’d find it on the PS2, anyway. Whichever platform you own, there’s plenty to enjoy. (Rating: 7/10)

Final Scores:

Story: 6/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Gameplay: 6/10
Replayability: 4/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10