Gameplay, Story and Value:
Mega Man X4 ends up feeling a lot like the SNES Mage Man X games mechanically, which is really the highest praise I could possibly give it. Everything is a little bigger and fancier, and Capcom attempts to “modernize” the series in many ways, but at it’s core it’s definitely a Mega Man X game. It’s a lot of fun.
While the game does have a bunch of new power ups and armor upgrades to collect, the biggest addition to the series is the ability to play as Zero from the get-go. Zero plays differently from X, using his signature beam saber rather than a blast. Instead of gaining special weapons from beating bosses like X does, Zero instead learns special techniques which are activated through different button combinations. It’s a lot of fun, and it adds a good reason to give the game additional playthroughs.
Another addition, this one slightly less welcome than the last, is the extra emphasis on story telling. X2 and X3 started picking up on the dialogue, sure, but X4 really starts pushing the story. That wouldn’t be a problem at all… if the story made any amount of sense, were enjoyable, or were told remotely well. Unfortunately, X4 fails on all fronts, and honestly would have done better just sticking to the gameplay. Luckily, the story never really gets in the way of said gameplay either.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Sprites are larger, more animated and more detailed than previous Mega Man X games, but X4 still manages to maintain its classic style. Everything looks great and runs incredibly smooth, and it’s generally an excellent looking game. There’s a few anime cutscenes scattered throughout and, while these are enjoyable, their quality isn’t the best.
As would be expected, the music in X4 is great, though it doesn’t quite live up to most of the tracks that have come before it. Sound effects are all on point but the voice acting… well… the voice acting is ear poison. It’s not even so bad it’s good, it’s just… so… bad…
Going in to X4 I was a little leery, as franchises don’t always handle the console generation jump very elegantly. I’ve also loaded this game up a couple times in the past, but never really felt like pressing through it. Having now sat through the whole thing, almost twice, I can say I’m, more than pleased with it! It hasn’t dethroned the original as my favorite X game, but it has enough compelling reasons to bring me back to it in the future, which is really saying something.