[MEGA MAN X7 LOGO]


[AXL VS ONE CRAZY MECHANILOID!]
Console: PS2 

Company: Capcom 

Release Date: October 2003 

Genre: Action 

Number of Players: 1  

Save Feature? Yes 



Mega Man X7 is a pretty cool game! No, today is not April Fools Day, opposite day, or some other holiday that I forgot to mention. Arguably the most controversial Mega Man game ever released was actually quite pleasant in this gamer's mind. The new 3D perspectives were not done perfectly and X7 is certainly not in the same class as X4 or X8 but still, it tried something new without totally bombing. If nothing else, X7 proved that a decent 3D Mega Man game is actually possible.

Overview: Although it was not completely revolutionary, Mega Man X7 dared to go where no Mega Man game (save for the MM Legends series) had gone before: The World of 3D!! Since anyone who knows me at all knows how much I despise most 3D games out there, you can imagine how scared I was at first. Mega Man in 3D?! It just didn't sound right. However, all things considered, Capcom actually did a decent job with the 3D format. I like how you can actually see your characters (i.e. it's not a dreaded first-person shooter) and that the gameplay is still a lot of fun.

The camera is definitely a mixed bag, however. In the areas where you can move freely and the camera is directly behind you (ala Spyro the Dragon), the camera works just fine. You can move the camera left or right with a simple press of the L1/R1 buttons to keep your view clear. The problem is that this is not the case with all of the 3D areas in the game. There are areas where you can move freely yet you cannot move the camera at all! As a result, it is not uncommon to get blasted by an enemy that you cannot see or fall into the abyss (or possibly both) due to the lack of a good camera angle. I found this very strange especially considering Capcom's consistency in the past.

One thing that you don't usually hear about Mega Man X7 is that there are still several classic 2D areas to be found. The backgrounds and everything have a 3D feel but the gameplay is definitely 2D. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed these areas the most.

So besides the unique 3D environs, what else can be found in X7 that is not in the gazillion other Mega Man hits you ask? Well, the seventh X game is noteworthy because it marks the debut of Axl! Hmm...I wonder if Axle the Red from Mega Man X5 inspired this character. Whatever the case, Axl is red like Zero and has a blue crystal in his helmet like X and yet his personality is what distinguishes him from the two veteran hunters. For one thing, Axl is much younger than X and Zero (200 years or so younger actually) and it shows in his confident yet somewhat reckless personality. Think of X and Zero as cool and collected with Axl being rash and hyper-energetic. You've got to love Axl though. Not only his youthful exuberance but his unique ability to transform into certain enemies and use their abilities freely! This was a really cool addition to the series as Axl can transform into some pretty cool enemies! He can walk on spikes as Ruinsman, slash through a strange cyberworld as a Samurai, and soar through the sky as a winged warrior. If nothing else, I really enjoyed being able to walk on spikes for once. Ahh...such sweet revenge.

As far as X and Zero are concerned, the gameplay is pretty traditional. The lock-on feature is worth mentioning, however. Since X7 is mostly in 3D, Capcom added a helpful lock-on feature for X and Axl. Instead of having to calculate exactly where to shoot, X/Axl can shoot down an enemy by looking in the direction of the enemy and getting close enough to lock-on. As soon as the target on the enemy appears, simply press the X button (or just mash it if makes you feel better) and you should have no problems blasting the enemy to bits. Personally, I really appreciated this feature as it made trying to hit some of the more annoying enemies (e.g. bats and other weird flying things) possible.


[THE OPENING STAGE] [VANISHING GUNGAROO'S DOMAIN]

Graphics: By now, it should be safe to say that Capcom is never going to screw up in this category. Even in a game as controversial as Mega Man X7, I would hope that we can all agree that the graphics were nicely done. Granted, they don't really maximize the power of the Playstation 2 console (like a Final Fantasy X or Kingdom Hearts or whatnot). However, they still come across as yet another brilliant display by Capcom with dazzling colors and massive explosions.

While the scenary and backgrounds look great as always, the character graphics are what really stand out in my mind. All of the characters just look like they were hand-drawn by a great artist and placed neatly into the game; animation and all. It's just really cool to see and a nice gesture by Capcom. See, they do still care about making the X series great! :) Even some of the enemies like Ruinsman, the stone heads, and even the Reploids you have to rescue look cool (that whole jungle level was pretty impressive come to think of it). Think of characters with bold colors, smooth animation, and just a different look (see the screenshots).

Another positive in X7's graphics is the long-awaited return of the FMVs that we have all craved since the days of Mega Man X4. The opening movie, like usual, set a nice tone. However, the intro movie that takes place at the beginning of a new game takes the cake. I don't know; I just loved the whole mafia-like feel and the incredible intro that Axl makes. I got a real kick out of Axl transforming into the bad guy's partner and then knocking him off. Very smooth.


[A VERY STRANGE WORLD]

Music: For some reason, the last two or three X games have been very similar when it comes to the music. Upon first hearing, the tunes appear to be your traditional, standard stuff. In other words, pretty average stuff. However, I've found that with each new playthrough, the music just seems to grow on you or be more appropriate or something.

Such is the case in X7 as well. The perfect example of this would have to be the track that plays during the cyberspace level (one of the strangest levels to be found in any Mega Man game btw). The first time that I heard the stage theme, I just didn't really like it at all. Too fast and weird. However, after playing the level several times, I actually found myself enjoying it! It's still on the average side and all but was very fitting for that particular stage.

With that being said, however, there are still several tracks that I really enjoyed right away. My favorite track has got to be the Tunnel Base Stage (Vanishing Gungaroo's level I believe...who in the heck thinks these names up?). It's just a real pleasant, upbeat, somewhat rocky song with a catchy melody blended in. Yet another classic track in a classic series. The Battleship and Jungle levels also had memorable tunes and the two final battle themes were brilliantly orchestrated (the last one does sound like an orchestra actually). Some of the other tunes were somewhat average but nothing came across as being annoying like a few of the tracks in Mega Man X6 (read on).

However, there are also the voices to consider. Although they never reach the low known as Mega Man 8 (fantasic game plagued by some of the worst voice acting ever), some of the voices in X7 simply reek!! I can live with X and Axl but Zero's voice is more stale than the Almond Joys in the vending machine where I work! He just sounds so bored and uninterested with the war going on around him...very atypical of Zero actually. However, that's not the worst of it. There's the...(drumroll please)...BOSS VOICES!! And hooboy; are some of them ever annoying. Let me just say that hearing "Burn! Burn! Burn to the ground! Burn! Burn to the ground! Burn! Burn! Burn to the ground!" incessently during the battle doesn't do the game any favors. Granted, it's kind of funny but still, annoying as heck. Ride Boarski is insane as well with his "Snort! Why I oughta!" and other phrases during the battle (sounds like Bebop from TMNT fame actually). I suppose that some of the phrases like Tornado Tonion's "You didn't like it!" when you blast him to bits make up for this. All in all, the voices are still pretty corny though.

Play Control: Although the controls in X7 are very similar to those found in previous incarnations, they just didn't come across as being quite as sharp or polished as usual. Just little things really. For one thing, I hate Zero's midair attack in this game. Instead of sweeping his saber across the enemy like in X4 or slashing all around him quickly like in X5/X6, Zero executes this puny slash across about 20 percent of his body. Not only does it cover a very small area but it leaves him wide open to attack. Which brings us to my second complaint. Whose bright idea was it for certain attacks to completely lay out a character? Instead of taking damage like usual and being able to use that brief invincibity to your advantage, sometimes an enemy attack will literally knock you to the ground where you will stay until you recover a few seconds later (just as the invincibility runs out...wonderful). Not only does this wipeout any benefits that you might have had from temporary invincibility (you can even build parts that allow for longer invincibility but why bother?) but if you can hit by an enemy while you're jumping over a cliff...well, you get the idea. I also found the Ride Boarski level to be a real mess in this area. Either the road is covered with sleet or the Ride Chaser controls just reek. You almost have to press left and right consecutively every half-second or so to have any control over this monster. Thankfully, the level is actually quite easy and mercifully short so this is forgiveable.

Still, even with all that's going against it, the play control in X7 really isn't all that bad. For one thing, aside from my ranting above, the controls are virtually identical to every other X game. Jumping, dashing, shooting...everything feels like it should. Axl's flying and shape-changing abilities were fun and easy to use and moving around in the Ride Armor found in the Tunnel Base stage was a blast! Like I said before, it's the little things that irked me in the game. I guess that I've played so many Mega Man games that I've become harder on them as time wears on.

Challenge: The challenge level in Mega Man X7 is very similar to that found in X6. This is probably due to the fact that the gameplay, aside from the new 3D areas, feels and plays like X6. You once again have to rescue reploids in order to earn life, weapon energy, and the valuable chip items, and some of the stages just seem never-ending at first (the Air Force stage anyone?) Like in X6 and previous incarnations, I really can't emphasize enough the importance of being patient. This is especially the case early in the game when you are at your weakest. If you have a short fuse, I definitely wouldn't recommend this game. But if you're patient and willing to work hard those first few levels to power up a little bit, you'll have a chance.

Beating that first boss or two was probably the biggest challenge that I found in X7. The rest of the game didn't seem terribly hard although that Air Force level and final boss (which took me at least 50 tries to beat...ugh) were pretty rough. Patience, patience, patience...

Storyline: Perhaps I'm crazy, but I found the story in X7 to be more engaging than some of the other stories in the series. Maybe not better, but at least more intriguing. The main reason for this is probably the cut scenes that take place after you defeat each boss. Personally, I liked this approach a lot. It gives you something to look forward to between stages and also provides more progression/development than the usual X story. Besides, some of my favorite voices in the game are heard here (Red was terrific and of course, there's the...ahem..."Professor.")

Basically, the story involves a new Maverick Hunter organization dubbed the "Red Alert Syndicate" and one of its most valuable members, Axl. The story unfolds with Axl having an inner conflict over some of the more recent events at Red Alert and fleeing the organization. As he says, "They aren't just going after the bad guys anymore!" Of course, with his remarkable ability to change shape, Red Alert isn't about to allow him to ride off into the sunset (in one of those impossible-to-control Ride Chasers no doubt). After Axl's accidental encounter with Zero and later X, Red himself contacts the true Maverick Hunters and demands that they turn over Axl. Of course, the problem has to be compounded by the fact that X is now a retiree. Yes, you heard me right; X is so distraught over the endless violence that he refuses to fight. Not surprisingly, this nonsense doesn't last long and before long, X rejoins Zero and Axl.

Although the main story is pretty average stuff (fighting Maverick captives...blah...blah...), the scenes in between levels were definitely the high points. They would involve either the S-Class Hunters or Red having a discussion with the "Professor." I don't know; I just really liked it. On a sidenote, Capcom really needs to stop being so vague about obvious stuff. In the subtitles, just put Sigma instead of "The Professor" okay?! We've only fought Sigma six times already...I think we know what he looks like!! It's like the manual for Mega Man X6 referring to "The Hunter" when it's clearly Zero. C'mon people!!

Ahem...sorry about my little rant there. Anyhow, although the story was very predictable overall, the ending movie did kind of throw me for a loop. Gotta give Capcom credit for that. My main point is simply that, while the story itself wasn't great, the development was very good. Whew...it took me that long just to say that?! Geech!

Funfactor: Even though Mega Man X7 has more annoyances than the average Mega Man game, it is still an enjoyable play. Perhaps one reason why I have enjoyed the game so much is the low expectations I had going into it. After all, I just bought the game in April so I've had plenty of chances to hear all of the biting criticism and whining from other Mega Man fans out there. Granted, X7 is not in the same class as most of the games in this series but I would argue that it is better than Mega Man X3 and possibly even X6! The new 3D perspectives were done relatively well and at least provided a change of pace for once (even though I'll always be a 2D fan!) And the gameplay, despite a few flaws here and there, was excellent like usual. X7 concerned me at first, but I can thankfully say that after playing this game, I still have never played a bad or even below average Mega Man game. That sure is a credit to Capcom's crown jewel!

Negatives: My main gripe has to be the inconsistency of the game's camera. While you can control it in certain areas, you can't in others. WHY?!

And while the play control is very nice for the most part, Zero seemed to have gotten the shaft a little in this game...especially in regards to defense. For some odd reason, his range just doesn't seem quite as large and his mid-air attack is pitiful. And while X controls just fine, I'm still trying to figure out if I like his gliding ability. And as I said before, I hate the fact that many attacks can lay out your character. One hit kills aren't too uncommon since you'll be flying/gliding over endless chasms a lot. And the invincibility of getting hit no longer protects you from lava or spikes. What gives?

The same complaint I had about Mega Man X6 regarding the reploids you have to rescue is also applicable to X7. You have to make countless rescues in a split second's notice and even then, it may still be too late! What in the heck?!

[AXL IN THE JUNGLE]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.2 Music: 4.1 Play Control: 4.2 Challenge: 4.0 Storyline: 3.9 Funfactor: 4.3 Overall Score: 24.7 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo

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Last Updated: May 23, 2006
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