Here's how bad it is. For the first part you play as Axl, which in my opinion is a bad game design decision. Maybe for people who are new to the series this is an okay idea, but people who've played Mega Man/Mega Man X games before are really confused. I mean here you have a character that moves kinda like X, but has no charge, and his hover works differently (you can't let go of the jump button). Worse yet, the first thing I hear is an alert about a laser. I'm looking around because I'm looking for something that, you know, sticks out, and I do see the laser, but the lighting is so bad it's not until the lock-on appears that I realize what I'm supposed to be shooting at. Sadly, this happens in every new section of the game.
So I get past the lasers more on luck rather than skill, since after all, Axl can't lock onto targets off screen even though they can certainly can injure him while offscreen and then I get into a more 3D like section with more bad lighting. It turns out I have to defeat the enemy in front of me with my "Copy Shot." Of course the game doesn't tell me I have to charge this fucker up to WORK and the next thing you know, the enemy in front of me throws a bomb at me and takes away the rest of my life energy. What fun!
Eventually, I figure out how the Copy Shot works, although in this section, it doesn't really give me any sort of advantage or anything like that, so I decided to take the smart way out and just run past the enemies. After dodging some sensor/radar/laser thingies whose sound effects seemed to come straight out of a Superfriends episode and blasting open that door I finally got the treat as playing as Zero. Yippee!
Playing as Zero was remarkably easier, given that he's a character whose mechanics I already know and the introduction stage was really just at a 3D remake of the original intro stage from Mega Man X. I have to admit it took me a while to get used to his triple slash (and those "bees" still throw me off), and the magic materialization of enemies threw me off. Still, I managed okay in that part, but I was wondering where the heck all the energy pellets were. I mean this is Mega Man X, and one of the staples of these games is for enemies to drop shit for you to recover your health, right?
Anyway, after climbing up the compactor -- which was harder than it should have been given the tendency of the characters to stick to walls like Spider-Man -- I finally saw the boss. Unfortunately, the way the boss is positioned as he chases the player, he automatically gets a cheap shot in because of the proximity. Fortunately, I recover and make it to the point where the boss battle begins, and of course, I get creamed having zero lives at this point. So I thought I'd be able to pick up not far from where I left off as this is a PS2 game and the intro stage was kinda long. I shouldn't have to do the whole things over again, right?
It took me three tries from start to finish to get it right. Not three lives -- three sets of lives...yes it took me nine lives to get past the introduction stage, whereas in every other Mega Man X game I've played, I die at most once the first time around in the introduction. The biggest problem was getting to the boss with more than one life because I wasted my lives in the dumb Axl section. But after a damn hour, I got past it and thought, "Whew...maybe the rest of the game won't be so hard."
Then after more boring drama we go to the select stage routine, and not knowing who to pick, I decide to pick Soldier Stonekong (at least I think that's his name...damn Capcom USA for not giving the bosses better names like they used to). Needless to say it took me about like two hours just to get to the boss. Part of the problem is the enemies don't stand out like they used to in the 2D Mega Man X games, so when playing az Zero, I'll walk ahead and bump into a monkey, not knowing it's an enemy. Also, this game seems to expect me to know the names of these creatures I'm fighting, which is hard for me. When I got Alia's [and it's s AY-lee-a instead of AH-lee-a?] warning about the spikes and Ruinsman, I thought she was talking about the giant rockface dudes, not the guys throwing rocks. Of course Ruinsmen are the hardest thing to kill, not because they have a difficult pattern because they take so many hits just like everything else in the game. I remember the days where it didn't take more than five hits to kill a regular enemy...those days are long gone.
So I get to Stonekong after all this drama and then we fight. Why is this asshole's life meter THREE times my own? Plus he throws his shield, but unlike Vanishing Gungaroo (more on him later) he announces it AFTER it's thrown, which threw off my timing. But I got used to his attacks. I did not get used to the damn fire pits in between the platforms. One misstep and half your life force is gone! Plus it takes so long for the character to recover, you're usually hit with another attack. Plus the fact that I can in effect only attack with Axl because attacking with Zero is suicide given how in this game you don't have to even technically touch the enemy to be affected by the infamous "touch of death." So after another hour of dying and dying I finally beat this guy and hope to get a cool weapon or technique, right? Nope, I get a fucking shield. Yipee!
Then since I don't know the cycle, I have to pick a guy based on the portraits. I pick one at random, yes, Vanishing Gungaroo. While his stage sucks at first because of the damn lighting -- I know it's an underground cavern, but realism is not a good point in a game where you have to see your enemy to kill it -- riding the ride armor was fun, even though I died over and over. I get to the section where you're in this well lit room, and you have to fight off the enemy. Here I was, LOST, looking for the exit, not knowing this was a "defeat all enemies room." Nice to know Mega Man X7 has turned into a Zelda game. Again after dying and dying, which really isn't fun after the fifteenth time, I get past this section to face Gungaroo. After first I see the small life bar and think, "This is easy." And using Axl it wasn't hard to beat him, as long as I kept moving and rotated the camera so he'd be on screen (so my shots would count). And then, to my dismay, after whittling away that energy, it turns out I only destroyed his ride armor. Now I have to fight this guy who's bouncing around the screen like a pinball who I can only see half the time. And he's got a long life meter The only good thing is that he announces his triangle kick well enough in advance that I can dodge it, but I have to keep on my toes every single moment...and these boss battles are taking a good fifteen to twenty minutes per attempt so I'm really getting frustrated.
About like thirteen or fourteen more lives later I beat this asshole and get another useless weapon, but I'm tired of this game for now. Other notes:
- Rescuing reploids in this game is harder than it ever was in X6. I could usually see the reploid in X6. Sometimes, I see the corner of a reploid and the next thing you know he/she gets killed, which means it's reset time! Yipee.
- The controls in this game are just bad, and the camera is even worse than Kingdom Hearts. Given the inherent difficulty in this game, I don't think I'll be beating it any time soon.
- X retiring would have made sense earlier in the series, but then again we can pretend X5 and X6 didn't happen plotwise so maybe it's not that much of a stretch.
- Though I have gripes about how Axl plays, the jury is still out as far as I'm concerned regarding Axl him as a character. Personally, though, I think he's more feminine in his appearance than Zero ever was. If there's some plot twist where he turns out to be a girl, I wouldn't be surprised at all.