Marvel's X-Men has always been one of our favourite superhero super groups. We've loved the comic books and thought the recent movies were fab. It's not just that we have a big thing for Famke Janssen and Halle Berry in leather (although that is most definitely the case) but the whole persecuted mutants battling a prejudiced and oppressive society thing really speaks to our inner geek.
Of course, with the superb luvvies double header of Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen facing off as Professor Xavier and Magneto, the films also carry a lot of credibility and cachet that other superhero movies have lacked. And then there's Wolverine, who has to go down as quite simply the best superhero ever.
The latest X-Men movie, number III, is set to debut in cinemas this May, and Activision's whipping into shape a videogame tie-in. We've got exclusive first details and screens from the official game of the movie, and it looks llike it might be shaping up rather nicely. Recent X-Men games like Rise of the Apocalypse II have garnered a growing reputation for the group's videgame outings, but X-Men: The Official Movie Game - as it's snappily entitled - is set to head off in a slightly different direction.
For starters this time you've got just three members of the X-Men under your control, but they are three of the best - Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Iceman. There's definitely going to be more of an action rather than RPG focus this time around, and both game and movie are set to intersect closely, with a storyline co-written by Zak Penn (screenwriter on both X2 and X3) and legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont. In fact, the game is so closely tied to the movie (they were planned to run together from the outset) that many narrative threads and parts of the back story are revealed and filled in by the virtual version. For example, although most of the movie's plot remains top secret, we can reveal that Nightcrawler's absence from the film is fully explained by the game.
However, XMTOMG is obviously centred on your three main heroes, and each is going to be balanced for a different style of gameplay to make vanquishing the villains both a joy and a challenge. We'll start with Wolverine, since he's our main man. Those trademark claws will be much in evidence and, coupled with his adamantium skeleton and natural healing ability, it means he'll be a close-quarter specialist and able to absorb an ocean of damage which would stop lesser mutants in their tracks. Also tagged for Wolverine is a special Fury mode, where his always-simmering temper is unleashed and translated into a short but extremely brutal series of special attacks.
Nightcrawler is another of our favourite X-Men and his gymnastic skills and teleport ability make him a natural fit for more stealthy types of gameplay. That's not to say he won't be a demon in close-quarters combat (remember the splendid teleporting attack on the President in the X2 movie?), but developer Z-Axis is promising an intuitive control mechanic and AI targeting system to make the most of Nightcrawler's teleporting ability and allow him to 'port in and spring special stealth attacks.
Finally, 'The Iceman Cometh', as the old X-men legend promises, and while the character has been slowly developed in the movies, during the course of the game Iceman grows and becomes a much more mature hero. He'll be fully in control of his ice-wielding powers and an integral part of the X-men team. We reckon those powers would be very handy for dropping a couple of cubes into our evening G&T, but more sensibly, Z-Axis has equipped him with ice beams to freeze foes, hailstorms to knock them out of the sky and an ice shield to both protect and plough through villainous swarms. Of course, the developer couldn't put Iceman in a game without his amazing ice-slide, which allows him to skate around levels with consummate ease. As you'll see from our shots, its looking like much slip-sliding fun indeed.