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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 06/02/05 ] = The Best 3-D Action Game Ever

I've been playing Mega Man X8 for the past few weeks now, and the game is incredible. Even though hardly anybody liked Mega Man X7 when it came out, I liked the game a lot. And while it wasn't perfect, I thought it was still a really good game with an interesting story, gorgeous visuals, smooth animation, varied gameplay, and catchy audio. In MMX8, Capcom has brought back and refined nearly every aspect of MMX7, and with stunning results. X's second venture into the world of 3-D has been tuned and refined to absolute perfection; while MMX8 is a 3-D game, it animates and plays just as well as its stellar 2-D counterparts. MMX8 is not only one of the best Mega Man titles ever made, but as it stands now, it is the best 3-D action/adventure game ever made. Simply put, Mega Man X8 is a masterpiece.







First and foremost, MMX8 looks gorgeous. Running on the same graphics engine as MMX7, MMX8 utilizes the power of the PS2 hardware to deliver unbelievably smooth, vibrant cel-shaded 3-D graphics with strikingly fluid animation, intricate detail, and splashy effects.

There are very few 3-D titles in the genre that look and animate as nicely as MMX8; from X and his crew to Sigma and the Mavericks, every character in the game is textured with intricate detail and animates with unrivaled fluidity. With MMX8, 3-D animation has finally evolved to the point of equality with 2-D animation. MMX8 is a treat to watch, and it is of such visual splendor that it must be seen in motion. The MMX series has always been known for its quality character design, and MMX8 delivers with a deathblow. X, Axl, and Zero look smoother, sleeker, and cooler than ever, and with the monumental return of Vile (who looks absolutely killer in 3-D), the game's unique cast of bosses are reminiscent of MMX2 and MMX3. Vile and Sigma look just as cool in 3-D as they did in 2-D! Newer characters like Alia look great in 3-D as well, and minor Mavericks like the Bustard and Guardroid breathe new life into the continuing evolution of enemy design in the series.

To compliment its unrivaled animation, MMX8 features beautiful cel-shaded 3-D environments; from the lush foliage in the Booster Forest, to the ethereal glisten of the prisms in the Troia Base, each of the game's futuristic locales look incredibly nice. Backgrounds are also busy with the bustle of speeding jet cars and other futuristic machines. It is difficult to completely capture the graphical essence of MMX8 and put it into words, but it can best be described as playing an anime.

As briefly mentioned, there are a ton of splashy effects in MMX8 that take advantage of the PS2 hardware's particle and lighting capabilities, as well; particles and rays of light shine from X when he charges attacks, crystal shards glimmer as they shatter, and bosses expire in blinding, deafening explosions that fill the screen (just to name a few). X's body even emits auras of soft light when equipped with the Hermes (blue) or Icarus (red) armors! With its brilliant character design and stunning cel-shaded visuals, MMX8 is undoubtedly the most visually-impressive 3-D action game ever made.




MMX8 not only looks great, but like past MMX entries, plays like a dream. Unlike most of the shit we see in the action game genre these days, MMX8 is an action game of the "platformer" type. Although it looks new-school with its polished visuals, MMX8's gameplay is of the classic "run & gun" style that requires quick reflexes and precision. With plenty of challenging areas that require precise dashing and jumping, MMX8 reminds us that it hasn't forgotten its 2-D roots. There's just something fun and satisfying about running, jumping, and eradicating enemies with screen-filling plasma blasts. Some may scoff at MMX8's "archaic" approach to the 3-D action genre, but this is how action games are supposed to be.

Overall, MMX8 is a deeper game than its predecessor, and several aspects of the its familiar system have been refined to perfection. For the first time ever, parts from each of X's acquired armors can be mixed and matched, allowing the player to customize X and his attributes. In addition, the chip system from MMX7 is deeper, and allows for even more customization. And one of the best things about MMX8 is that Capcom finally implemented a combo system to compliment the grading system; both encourage the player not just to get better at the game, but to perfect it. Ride-Armor is back with a vengeance (MMX2 style), Zero can still deflect shots with his sword, and to make things even better, Capcom added a Team-Up Attack that leaves enemies in shambles. Not to be left out, the analog control has been improved and feels smoother than MMX7.

Also, there are several things from MMX7 (and past titles) that didn't make it to MMX8; Mega Man and crew no longer have the ability to crouch, and hostages have been left out of the game completely. Although it really has no bearing on how great the game is, rescuing hostages in MMX7 was fun, and it would have been nice to see in MMX8. Many also say that there are no more "3-D stages" in MMX8; this is only half-true. MMX8 still features intricate 3-D stages to explore, but there are no more "free-roaming" parts. Instead, the player now runs along a fixed path that goes up, down, and around the entire stage while the camera rotates accordingly. The vehicle stages have been slightly changed, as well; they're longer, faster, and more varied than those in MMX7.





The X series has unfolded through a consistent story since its inception, and MMX8 furthers it with quality cinematic storytelling that picks up where MMX7 left off. However, the ferocity of MMX8 isn't watered-down by unnecessary storytelling (as with some other titles in the genre), and the artistic brilliance of its cinematic style presents every plot turn and revelation perfectly. The music is also very good, and while I can't say that it's better than that of MMX7, a healthy dose of metal guitars and soft ambiance bring each of the game's stages to life. Shots and explosions sound as good as they have in other X games, but the real improvement was with the voice-acting; Axl sounds a lot better than he did in MMX7, and the voice-acting just sounds better overall.

By now, some may be wondering why MMX8 didn't show up in my 2004 Top Ten. Well, if I would have played MMX8 earlier, it would have been my top action title of 2004. But just like past MM games, I got it a while after it was released, so it wasn't until recently that I got the game and started the coverage you are reading. I still haven't beaten the game, I haven't unlocked all of the extra characters, and I don't have all of the items yet, but there is still a lot more to discover, and the game is fantastic. Sure, some online features would have been nice, and one of the vehicle stages is cheap as hell, but the game has no serious qualms, and very few (if any) minor ones. Capcom improved upon everything that made MMX7 a great game to make MMX8 a perfect game. From the visuals to the control, MMX8 is a gaming experience unlike what is seen with most other current titles of the same genre. MMX8 is the perfect medium between old-school and new-school, a creation nothing short of a masterpiece. Right now, Mega Man X8 is the best 3-D action/adventure/platformer game of all-time, and even if Capcom is able to top it in the future it will still be one of the best in the genre, ever.