Dan Vondrak on X-Men Legends II

This Tuesday, September 20th, Activision will release the anticipated X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse for the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PSP and PC.

The sequel to the best-selling “X-Men” title ever, X-Men Legends, is an all new action-RPG that lets players create, customize and control teams of four mutants from 16 all-time favorite X-Men and classic Brotherhood villains. With the X-Men and Brotherhood fighting side by side for the first time, players switch instantly between teammates wielding many more super powers and skills than X-Men Legends, as they overcome obstacles, solve puzzles and defeat more than 100 types of enemies including Lady Deathstrike and the notorious Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. Delivering significant gameplay enhancements over the first title, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse challenges players to explore immense, destructible environments set in classic X-Men locations like Genosha and the Infinite Factory, and exotic worldly locales like Egypt and the South Pole in both single player and, for the first time ever, online multiplayer modes.

The game was developed by Raven Software for the console systems, Vicarious Visions for the handheld platform and Beenox Studios for the PC. Superhero Hype! talked to Dan Vondrak, Project Lead, Raven Software about the game.

SHH!: What enhancements/additions/changes have you made to XML2 over the first game?

Dan Vondrak: There are so many changes I would need several pages to cover them all. We’ve overhauled every major system in the game. Character Powers, AI, Camera, Art, the list just keeps going.

We’ve more than doubled the number of active powers for each character, so now you can assign your powers to the various buttons. We have in-game auto- leveling and in-game power switching so players can spend more time in the game and less time in the menus. We’ve added a whole new system of randomly generated equipment so you’re always seeing new more powerful items. The Art has received a major overhaul, with higher resolution textures and models being used on characters, in-game objects and the environments.

The biggest addition without a doubt though, is Online play. We have 4-player online mode in “X-Men Legends II”. This is the full story mode, every level in the game can be played with 4 characters, front to back. This has been an awesome addition to the game. This game was meant to be played coop, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure the coop experience (both online and offline) is much more enjoyable in XML2.

SHH!: Tell us how the assortment of super powers is different from the first game? Which do you find the most fun?

Vondrak: Now that we’ve given so many more powers to the Heroes everyone has their different favorites and different methods they use to defeat their enemies. You can fill the room with Storm’s chain lightning by holding down that power button (as long as you have enough Mutant Energy to sustain it of course). Nightcrawler’s combination of teleport attacks and his all new set of sword attacks makes for a very fun power set. Sunfire turned out to be easily one of the coolest characters. He’s got amazing costumes and his effects are awesome to see on screen. He gets my vote for most underrated character during development of XML2. Towards the end of development I saw a lot more Sunfires being used in coop and online games.

SHH!: With the X-Men and the Brotherhood on the same team, was it harder to figure out who the bad guys would be?

Vondrak: The genesis of the story was all about Apocalypse, one of the greatest evils in the X-Men Universe. He was the inspiration for having the X-Men and Brotherhood work together, so we had actually come up with the core set of Apocalypse’s evil empire right before we decided to have the X-Men and Brotherhood team up. It was a lot of fun building Apocalypse’s army of villains. There are so many great characters to choose from and it was a treat to not have to use the same villains the X-Men have battled over and over. Marvel was great about letting us stretch the Universe and pull in villains from all over. There are a lot of surprises for X-Men fans, characters people wouldn’t normally expect to see.

SHH!: How has the collaboration with Marvel been? Have there been any unique challenges you face when working with a comic book giant in order to get the game to be as authentic as possible?

Vondrak: Marvel has been great to work with. Not only do they let us be very creative with our ideas for super powers and storylines, but they are great at suggesting stuff too. They understand how we have to sometimes bend the rules with superpowers in order to make a great game play experience, but also make sure we stay true to the X-Men franchise.

Having so many X-Men and Marvel characters in the game as playable characters, Bosses, and NPCS is a big challenge. We have to make sure to bring all their personalities and backgrounds into the story. Marvel was great about providing plenty of help in this area.

SHH! Tell us about the back-story for XML2. Will there be any plot twists the players can look forward to?

Vondrak: During XML1, Apocalypse was laying in wait, allowing both the X-Men and the Brotherhood to weaken each other. Following the end events of X-Men Legends, Apocalypse launched his attacks on both the X-Men and the Brotherhood and revealed his empire to the world.

There are definitely some big plot twists in XML2. We’ve hidden them pretty well too, people will really have to pay attention to the story and the dialogue between characters to figure it out ahead of time.

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Source: Superhero Hype!