X-MEN Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is the perfect example of how to make a sequel. Take the solid action-RPG format of the successful X-Men Legends, build on it without altering the basic mechanics too much, add loads of new content and a fan pleasing Live element. No fancy new concepts. No badly conceived new game modes. Just more of the same and lots of it.
Which is clearly great news when you consider how well the blend of button-pounding action and traditional RPG stat building
worked in the original. Simply take your chosen band of four superheroes (from a total of 16 characters), grab your orders from Professor X and set off on a destructive rampage through some of the prettiest cel-shaded environments on Xbox.
This being a sequel, there has to be a twist, and it doesn't take a comic book addict to realize that Rise of Apocalypse's bombshell is the ability to take control of not only the X-Men, but their sworn enemies The Brotherhood too, led by metal-masher Magneto. In addition, the number of special moves and powers for every playable character has more than doubled, throwing up hundreds of intriguing new combination attacks for those prepared to put the time into ploughing through the thoroughly beefed-up RPG side of the game.
Choice is another concept that's being pushed heavily in Rise of Apocalypse. Instead of being forced to progress through a linear set of missions, as was the case in the original, you can follow the story in your own way, able to pick and choose your challenges while wandering through the game's many free-roaming environments.
Of course, the real cherry on top is the Live element, with both versus AND co-op play promised - X-Men Legends II allowing up to three other people on Live to jump in at any time and help you out during your single player game. And as if all that wasn't enough, Shakespearean videogame rentagob Patrick Stewart (Professor X in the movies) returns to add a spot of high-calibre thesping to the voiceover. Another potential Marvel hit? We'll have the review next month...