Console: PSone Company: Capcom Release Date: February 2001 Genre: Action Number of Players: 1 Save Feature? Yes
The man in blue just does not disappoint. Mega Man X5 provides yet another plentiful feast for loyal fans of the series and action game fans alike. Even though X5 was released nearly four years after the fourth X installment, it is still classic 2D action all the way. There are just enough new elements to keep things interesting while staying with the classic flavor of previous Mega Man hits. An added bonus is that some of the final levels in the game will have Blue Bomber fans screaming with nostalgia. X5 is a worthy addition to an already legendary series.
Overview: If you have already read my review of Mega Man X4 then you have a good idea of what to expect with X5. Although Capcom tweaked a few things here and there, X5 is still a typical X game. Don't fret though; this is a good thing!
One thing that I really like about X5 is that you are able to switch between X and Zero throughout the game. This is unlike X4 where you had to choose one character at the beginning of the game and stick with that character over the long haul. It is nice to be able to switch back and forth at your leisure.
One of the unique features of X5 is that the game keeps track of your efforts through a new ranking system. Depending on the time it takes to complete a mission (i.e. making your way through a level and defeating the boss) along with the total damage taken, you will receive an overall rank. For example, if you are able to beat a level rather quickly and sustain a minor amount of damage, your rank might be an "A" or "SA." The funny thing is that, even though I have beaten the game three times as of this review, I still don't see the signifance of this system. A higher rank might allow you to equip better weapons/items but I can't say for sure. I can only assume that either your attacks are faster or the story/ending is somehow affected. Whatever the result, the ranking system is neat as it gives you a goal to shoot for. Try to get both X and Zero to "GA" status by the end of the game if you want a real challenge!
Another neat feature is that you can gain and equip certain parts based on both the level of the boss you face (this depends on which stages you tackle first) along with whether or not you elect to build weapons and life or weapons and energy. The completed parts you receive depend on your choices here. Some of the parts are very helpful too. The jumper allows you to jump very high, speedster causes X and Zero to move very fast, (this part is very nice), and the ultimate buster is...well...self-explanatory. The neat thing is that these parts vary depending on which options you select. As a result, X5 can be a new experience during each playthrough. It is a lot of fun trying different combinations and receiving new items.
As if that wasn't enough to pique your interest, keep in mind that the story itself changes depending on your performance. You actually have a certain amount of time to collect the parts for the Enigma and Space Shuttle (more of this will be mentioned in the storyline section) and whether or not you collect the necessary parts affects the probability of success. This is turn has a direct effect on the game's story and, as a result, might even change the ending! Since there are three possible endings, the replay value in X5 is higher than in most Mega Man games. In my opinion, this was a smart move by Capcom. It really makes the game a different experience every time!
Graphics: Like every other game in the series, X5 does not disappoint in the graphics department. If you have played Mega Man X4 then you can expect more of the same in X5. Bold colors, brilliant backgrounds (check out the screenshot above), and that special Capcom touch is prevalent throughout the game. Some of the special effects like the moving stairways in Izzy Glow's stage and the appearing/disappearing constellations in Dark Dizzy's domain are very nice. I also thought that the animated backgrounds in the final few stages were nicely done. Granted, a few levels have graphics resembling the Super NES X games more than what you would expect from a PSX game but overall, I am satisfied.
As it relates to the graphics, one major disappointment for me was the lack of FMV intermission scenes in Mega Man X5. The movies were what made X4 such a fun gaming experience! Although X5 has a very nice intro movie, the intermission scenes were removed and replaced with the more traditional pictures and text style found in the Ninja Gaiden series. This was very surprising as Capcom chose to move backwards in terms of quality. Cinema scenes are okay in NES and Super NES games but more is expected in a PSX game.
Music: For some reason, I just really like the music in X5. It has really grown on me as I appreciate it more and more with each new playthrough of the game. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the game has a sound test option either.
For one thing, there is plenty of variety in X5's score. You've got heroic music, rocky tracks, slow ones, nostalgic tunes, and even a little disco thrown in! It's a unique combination and yet it works so well! How Capcom was able to throw in a disco track (and a great one at that) for the game's final level is beyond me. Putting disco music in a Mega Man game seems like asking Konami to play Enya tracks in their Contra games. However, kudos to Capcom for making it work (I wouldn't recommend putting "China Roses" in a Contra game, however.)
Ahem...sorry about that. Anyway, some of my favorite music from X5 would have to be the Intro theme, Zero's theme (played during the game's opening level), Squid Adler's stage, Axle the Red's stage, the mysterious Zero Virus stages, the fight vs. Zero theme, and yes, the Disco track. :) I really like the Intro theme as it is a remix of music from the first X game as well as Mega Man 3 for the NES! The Zero Virus track offers a trip down memory lane as well. This was just so cool and so unexpected for a Playstation Mega Man game! Another surprise was Duff McWhalen's stage theme which is an updated version of Bubble Crab's theme from Mega Man X2! The music in this game simply reeks of nostalgia! I should note that the game's ending music is very nice as well (even though it's not from a previous Mega Man game).
Unfortunately, not all of the music in X5 is platinum material. Some of the tunes in X5 range from being mediocre to even being hard on the ears! The stage select, mission results themes, and boss theme are all very mediocre while the two boss themes in the Zero Virus levels, while nostalgic, are migraine material. The main boss theme was very average and was not inspiring at all.
Play Control: Like the X games that came before it, X5 has exceptional play control. However, an added bonus is that X5 is the first game in the series where X and Zero actually have the ability to duck to avoid enemy attacks. This ability is very useful as well! A lot of the cheap shots that you couldn't avoid in earlier X games are pretty much eliminated with this new feature. However, a lot of skill is still required to master the amazing controls in X5. They are easy to learn yet tough to master.
Challenge: While Mega Man X5 has its share of challenges, it isn't as difficult as some of the earlier games in the series. This is probably a good thing though as some of the previous X games made me want to throw a controller through the TV! A major reason for the lower challenge level in X5 is that there are so many checkpoints in each level. You don't have to worry about having to start a stage from the very beginning should you need to continue. Of course, unlimited continues helps as well.
However, before you get all excited, keep in mind that X5 is no cakewalk either. There are plenty of traps that can trip up even the best of X players and some of the last levels can be brutal if you're not careful. However, with skillful timing and a full supply of energy tanks, you should be able to prevail...eventually, anyway.
Storyline: While X5's story has plenty of mystery and intrigue, it also has its moments where you can't help but think of how ridiculous it sounds. The whole Zero virus situation was pretty cool while the prospect of the whole world being taken over by the Sigma virus in a matter of minutes seems a bit farfetched.
Even though the story varies depending on how you go about playing the game, the overall plot revolves around the space colony Eurasia being on a collision course with the Earth. I do not recall the manual mentioning this but I believe that this space colony might be related to the one that X/Zero visited in Mega Man X4. That's just speculation on my part, however. Whatever the origin of Eurasia, Sigma (how he's still alive after four crushing defeats is beyond me) actually tricks X/Zero into defeating him and unleashing the Sigma Virus. This causes Eurasia to go out of control and also results in many of the Maverick Hunters going Maverick themselves. As a result, not only do X and Zero have to use the Enigma and Space Shuttle to keep Eurasia at bay but they have to contend with Mavericks as well! If all that chaos wasn't enough, Dynamo, a mysterious ally of Sigma, attempts to keep X and Zero busy as well.
While the plot is essentially the same as usual (Sigma trying to wreak havoc and X/Zero trying to stop him), it's the background subplot of X and Zero's origins that makes this story intriguing. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that the true purpose of Zero's creation becomes more apparent than ever towards the end of the game. A fateful battle ensues and a strange new virus that looks a whole lot like Zero materializes. It's pretty creepy and better still, the final battle even takes place in the very room where X and Zero were discovered by Dr. Cain.
Some of the last few levels are way cool as well. Bosses that were seen in the earliest of Mega Man hits (we're talking the original MM series here!) reappear and the all too familiar Dr. W insignia even makes a shocking appearance. Even though the main plot isn't much to write home about, X5 has some tasty surprises for veterans who have hung around all of this time.
Funfactor: Although it probably isn't the best Mega Man game out there, X5 is still more fun than a barrel of monkeys! While playing through the game for the very first time has its moments, this is just one of those games that grows on you. It just seems to get better and better with each new play. As I said before, the fact that the game has multiple endings and branches in the story gives X5 a lot of replay value. Being the perfectionist that I am, it is a lot of fun trying to find everything and getting the full impact of this great game. I have beat the game three times as of this review and I still seem to come across something new with each new play. The variety and the solid gameplay that has become a habit for this series just really impresses me and keeps me coming back for more.
What really makes this game an enjoyable gaming experience are the same qualities possessed by previous X games: superb play control and exceptional gameplay. In terms of the action genre, I can't think of many games that can match the X series in terms of sheer firepower and intensity. When you complete a level or blast a mini-boss to smithereens, you really feel like you've accomplished something. Of course, lush graphics and an excellent soundtrack doesn't hurt either.
Negatives: The lack of FMV intermission scenes! The movies in X4 were sensational and really put that game over the top. The fact that Capcom chose to take things a step backwards just doesn't make any sense. You just don't downgrade a sequel like that...especially when the sequel comes out nearly four years after the previous game in the series!
While the story does have its moments, it is one of the weakest in the series. Not only that but there is a lot of dialouge in X5. While I don't usually mind this type of thing, going through all of the cinema scenes and Alia's tips throughout each level can become quite cumbersome. Capcom needs to remember that the forte of the X series has always been the action. A good story is always welcome but things were a bit overblown in X5. The story in Mega Man X4 was better yet there really wasn't much dialouge in the game.
Lastly, I found Dynamo to be a joke of a character. Not only is the guy all talk and no game but the game never explains his origin or anything! He is just kind of there. Come to think of it, why is he even in this game? Of all of the characters in the X series, Dynamo has to be one of the most useless ones ever. All the guy does is attack you twice and he isn't hard at all. It seems so unlike Sigma to join forces with an imbicile like Dynamo. If you want the perfect example of the ultimate blowhard, Dynamo's your man. :)
Ratings: Graphics: 4.4 Music: 4.4 Play Control: 4.8 Challenge: 4.0 Storyline: 3.9 Funfactor: 4.5 Overall Score: 26.0 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!
Back to Playstation PowerLast Updated: June 2, 2006