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Mega Man X7
game: Mega Man X7
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Capcom
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Nov 26th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Nov 26th, 2003

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By Eric Qualls

Every Mega Man title that has been released this year has been accompanied with much celebration, as this is the 15-year anniversary of the franchise.  The sad thing is that Mega Man games have been sucktastic for about ten of those fifteen years.  Every time Capcom tries to take a step forward by adding something new to the series, they take three steps back in terms of gameplay.  Mega Man X7 is a prime example of this.  Character swapping and 3D gameplay sections are interesting, but the game is still a stinker overall because it just isn't all that fun to play. 

The story in Mega Man X7 is the same anime-inspired tale we have seen a hundred times before.  Good robots fighting against bad robots.  To make a long story short, the good robots annihilated the bad robots and then they became corrupt with power and turned bad so one of them defected to fight against them.  Like I said, it is just a complicated story of good robots versus bad robots.  The defector is named Axl, and he plays much like good ˜ol Mega Man.   You also get to play as sword wielding X series staple Zero.  So where is Mega Man, you ask?  He decided to put his Buster on the shelf and retire once he became tired of the pointless fighting.  You do get to use him late in the game, but he is so weak compared to Zero and Axl that you won't want to use him too often.  The story is pretty far out, but it is ultimately forgettable. 

For Mega Man X7, Capcom tried to update the gameplay of the series by adding 3D sections to the levels along with the 2D gameplay the series is known for.  What this means is that each level is split between sections where you play the game as a 2D side scroller like normal, and in other sections of the level the camera will shift to a position behind you so you play the game more like a 3D platformer.  Attempting to improve an aging franchise is admirable, but Capcom was a bit too ambitious.  Not only are the 3D sections a complete waste, but they didn't even get the 2D parts of the levels right either. 

The 2D sections suffer because an auto aim feature was added to the game.  This takes all of the skill and fun out of playing the game because all you have to do is hammer the fire button.  The levels were designed around this auto aim feature and the result is a lot of open areas where enemies are easy to lock on to and shoot.  If the game moved a little faster, this would have probably been fun, sort of like a shoot-em-up.  Sadly, the game moves at the traditionally plodding pace of the other Mega Man games and there aren't enough enemies thrown at you at any given time to be very interesting.  All you are left with is bland levels and a lock on system that takes all of the fun out of the game. 

When the camera shifts behind you and you tackle the 3D areas of the game, it doesn't really get that much better.  The enemies do a little better job of hiding from you, but the level designs are still pretty open and boring.  I think what is so disappointing about the 3D sections is that they don't play all that differently from the 2D sections.  The only difference is that you are getting to see the enemies and characters from a new camera angle--and that's it.  The game still plays the same way other than the platform jumping is trickier, so it is hard to shake the feeling that they should have either done the game in all 2D or all 3D and not a mix of both.

The boss fights take place in the 3D sections and they aren't all that great either.  All of the bosses have an easy to figure out pattern they follow, and then you just have to peck away at them with your weapons.  Most of the special powers you earn from beating bosses are useless in the 3D sections because they were made with the 2D areas in mind, so you'll be using your standard blaster on a good many of the bosses in the game. 

A nice component of the gameplay is that you get to choose two robots to fight as when you begin a level.  Zero, Axl, and Mega Man all play differently and each one has their advantages, so this makes the game somewhat strategic.  You can then switch between the two bots at will during the level by pressing L2.  Axl seems custom designed for the 3D sections, and Zero can power through pretty much anything.  Sadly, X comes into the game too late to be of much use. 

Mega Man X7 is still extremely challenging, though, just like the rest of the series.  The problem here is that it is just too boring and poorly designed to be fun.  By the time you reach a part that you find difficult you will probably be sick of the game and quit playing. 

Graphically, Mega Man X7 looks good.  The design of the levels is pretty boring to play through, but the environments still manage to look decent.  The 3D character models look cool and X, Zero, and Axl are very detailed and look great.  In the 3D sections, the game looks and plays pretty much the same as the 2D sections and that is really disappointing.  More detail overall would have been appreciated, but the game is far from ugly. The sound in MMX7 doesn't fare so well.  The character voices, particularly Axl, are annoying and don't sound good at all.  The music and sound effects are exactly the same as we have had for the past fifteen years of Mega Man, though it has to be noted that the music isn't nearly as catchy as the best soundtracks from past games.

In the end, Mega Man X7 is disappointing because it isn't as different and innovative as it could have been.  Switching from 2D to 3D is an interesting idea, but it seems that the 3D sections were implemented at the expense of the 2D gameplay.  All that is left is a crappy 2D side scroller that occasionally switches to a crappy 3D platform game.  For the next game, I hope that Capcom chooses to use one or the other and not try to put in both 3D and 2D.  That way we'll get a quality game of one type instead of a game that uses both and seems half-assed.  The hardcore Mega Man fan base has been shrinking over the years and Mega Man X7 isn't going to please the die-hards any more than the newbies to the series.  Give it a rental if you must, but don't expect too much.