While there are many familiar elements in the game that should please die-hard fans, Capcom's revamped Mega Man X7 offers a few twists that make for an engaging rejuvenation of the long-running series. Obviously, the biggest change this time is the addition of true 3D gameplay in many areas. This isn't the first time that Capcom has tried a 3D Mega Man, but this is by far the most elaborate. These new 3D modes feel much more natural than they did in Mega Man Legends on the PS1, and the game handles the change in perspective smoothly, with consistent controls making for seamless transitions. While it mixes both 2D and 3D perspective, the entire game has a 3D polygonal look, which gives added depth and realism. This goes a long way in making for a darker and grittier feel to the game, with a slightly more mature storyline to match. Mega Man X7 generally uses a fixed-angle camera perspective that allows you to concentrate on the action but also leads to many areas where the character vanishes from view, which can get extremely frustrating at points. Helping to compensate for these problems, Mega Man X7 implements an auto-lock on firing system to target enemies automatically, which can be quite helpful. Following tradition, Mega Man X7's nonlinear structure allows you to traverse different levels with ease by choosing your level at the select screen between levels. The level designs themselves are straightforward, with a good mix of different game types that mix traditional platforming jumping action, shooting and item collecting with elaborate puzzles, strategic gameplay and minor RPG-style character building elements that keep the gameplay fresh. While some of the puzzles are a bit harder than you'd expect, MMX7 unfolds at a decent pace. The storyline seems a bit more elebaorate than usual, and the longer cinemas make the plot and characters seem much more alive. While Mega Man X7's presentation is a bit more cinematic than the previous titles, this is still at its essence, the franchise you've come to know and love.
Aside from the new 3D modes, Mega Man X7 stays consistent with the feel and approach in the earlier games. Players will find all the familiar moves such as the dash attacks, charges and special weapons that they've come to expect. However, you can now the switch characters during the game, which adds a lot to the strategy. As usual, players can collect health and weapon power-ups during the game when they defeat enemies. Additionally, another new element is the Reploids. Players will find these Reploids scattered around in different locations during the game and can rescue them. When you collect enough of these, you can use them to acquire new abilities, special weapons and armor at the status screen. These seemingly minor additions keep the gameplay fresh and engaging. During the game, players can build a team by using two of the three main playable characters, Mega Man X, Axl and Zero and can switch between them during each level. Your success in each level depends on which of the characters you use. This is because each one has their own unique style of attack with individual weapons and fighting styles. For example, Zero can attack enemies with his energy sword, and can jump high. However, the coolest ability lies with the mysterious robot named Axl can take on the fighting style and abilites of foes he defeats. This can be quite useful in the more difficult levels.
Knowing where to use each character's moves and techniques is essential if you want to get through the game effectively. Trying to get through the levels with the wrong robot will make things more frustrating than they need to be. Howevr, due to the game's non-linear approach, you can end the mission in the middle of a level, then go back to the select screen and change levels to play something easier. Once you have beaten a level and earned enough upgrades, you can go back to it and see if you can't beat it then. Even with all this help, Mega Man X7 can be quite difficult, and even the early levels pose quite a challenge. Beating a level is quite an accomplishment in its own right. Mega Man X7 also lets you replay the levels with different characters if you want. During the game players will find that certain levels are better suited to the abilities of each character. The game's other main strategy involves the boss battles which can become quite epic. Using you standard shots isn't as effective as the special weapons, but the bosses can be defeated relatively easily once you find their weak spots.
From an audio-visual standpoint, Mega Man X7 is a good looking game that definitely takes advantage of the PS2's processing power. The new approach marks a nice change of pace, and does an excellent job of bringing Mega Man into robust 3D environments. The levels themselves are nicely designed with colorful backgrounds, smooth animations and challenging layouts that make for a solid game. While the 3D stages are the main attraction, Capcom's use of polygonal graphics in the 2D areas is impressive, lending these stages added depth and realism. The game's darker feel is only enhanced by the elaborate cinematic sequences, which bring the plot to life without feeling obtrusive. While the voice-overs, special effects and soundtrack are nicely done, they don't really add much to the experience.
Mega Man X7 has many impressive features but, the game's difficulty makes it less enjoyable than it could be. While there are several save points that allow you to mark how many items you've collected, you can only officially your character's progress at the end of each level, which means you'll have to slog through the whole level again. This means that even if you're close to the end or at a boss battle, when you die, it's back to the start. It's an odd save system and punishes players too harshly. This is quite annoying and makes progress much slower than it should be. Another big problem lies with the controls, which work well in the 2D platforming areas, but fall a bit flat in the 3D sections. While using a fixed camera is generally a good idea, there are many points where the character disappears off the screen, making you lose damage and life. Rescuing all the Reptoids on each level is also harder than it seems, since many seem to appear only fleetingly, making it almost impossible to collect them all. Since there's no way to adjust for the camera system, it's a serious problem that makes the game very frustrating at points. However, we don't want to give the wrong impression - these flaws are major but they aren't enough to ruin the game. Mega Man X7's good points definitely overcome it's problems and make the game more than worth your time.
Man X7 gets incredibly difficult at points and the camera system problems don't
help which makes things more frustrating than they could have been. However,
players can use the auto-targeting system and special weapons to compensate for
these problems. The game's non-linear level design also eases the frustration,
but this is still no walk in the park. From a technical standpoint, Mega Man X7
represents a solid step forward for the series. The 3D levels don't work as well
as it could have, but the new twists and approach is definitely welcome news for
a franchise that's seemed to be a bit long in the tooth over the past few years.
Capcom deserves credit for taking the series forward, despite some stumbles.
While the transition from 2D to 3D isn't as smooth as it could have been, Mega
Man X7 is still a highly enjoyable game that will challenge and entertain both
casual and die-hard fans of the series.