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X-Men: Next Dimension is a fighting game, released in 2002 for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube video game consoles. It is the third game in the X-Men: Mutant Academy[ fighting game series, following ]X-Men: Mutant Academy and X-Men: Mutant Academy 2.
Narrated by Patrick Stewart (reprising his role as Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men trilogy of films), the game's plot is built around the Prime Sentinel, and his attempt to retrieve the head of Bastion. The game opens with Forge and other members of the X-Men training in the Danger Room (the graves of Anthony Stark, Warren Worthington III, Peter Parker, and Benjamin Grimm can be seen in the Danger Room in the opening cinematic).
It's during this training session that the Juggernaut, joined by a few members of the Brotherhood of Mutants; Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth; make their assault on the mansion. Xavier is curious as to the nature of their attack, and sends Forge to investigate the grounds. He discovers that the attack was a distraction, and that the grounds are now being patrolled by Sentinels.
Forge is subsequently abducted, and the Brotherhood retreats. Restrained in the company of Bastion, the seemingly-human Sentinel tells Forge he intends to use the Native American's mutant gift to bring about the extinction of mutants. He sends the Brotherhood to different locations across the world. The X-Men split up and engage each member in a bid to find Forge and stop the Prime Sentinel.
The control system of the game is heavily influenced by other popular fighting titles, such as Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, or Darkstalkers. The gameplay mechanics are tailored to a very gradual learning curve: super attacks are performed by pressing two punch or kick buttons simultaneously, and multi-hit combos can be executed by pressing the punch and kick buttons in a particular order (a feature similar to Darkstalkers' chain combos). The game features an extensive combo system, including normal chains, air juggles, and air launchers. In addition to the basic blocking system, players have various counter attacks available to them that can be executed by simply pressing the counterattack button and a direction on the controller. The counter-attacks are specific to the type of attack the player is countering.
The fighting stages are fully 3-D rendered stages with their own layouts. As in Dead or Alive it is possible to knock an opponent to a different part of the stage, which functions as its own individual stage. In the X-Mansion, for example, an opponent can be knocked from the Hangar to the Hallway, then to the outer courtyard where, after the 2nd round, the basketball court opens up, allowing a player to be knocked back into the Hangar.
While in Story Mode, only a limited set of characters are available for each battle; Arcade Mode allows you to select from any of the playable characters in a series of eight battles. The Two-Player Versus Mode also allows players to choose from any of the unlocked characters. The game also features a Survival Mode, in which a single player is pitted against a never-ending flow of computer-controlled opponents in a test of endurance.
In addition to the standard moves, the player can also access special and super attacks. The special attacks include blasts/beams (some of which can stun an opponent), physical attacks that have special effects (such as moving to one side before hitting) and attack throws. There are several different types of super attacks, and each have four different levels of power.
- Projectile Supers: These come in two forms. The most used form is the beam, which is a continuous stream that causes a set amount of damage if it connects. The best example of this is Cyclops' Concussion Blast. There are also gun or blast projectiles which can be fired a set number of times, such as Gambit's 52 Card Pickup special.
- Physical Supers: As the name implies, Physical Supers are supers that involve the character physically engaging with the opponent. Physical Supers are different from Attack Throw Supers because Physical Supers will continuously attack even if an opponent is blocking. Blob is the only character that has a Physical Super at levels 3 or 4.
- Attack Throw Supers: Different and more numerous than Physical Supers, Attack Throws are attacks that only do full damage after an initial hit or grapple and are only effective if the intended victim is not performing a blocking maneuver. Most characters have at least one Attack Throw Super, and some (such as Toad or Beast) have a full arsenal of Attack Throws. Examples include Bishop's Professional Hit special, Sabertooth's Spin Cycle, and Toad's Paddletongue.
- Unique Supers: These are supers that are unique to a certain character and include Sabertooth and Wolverine's Regeneration.
Many of the attacks and motions in the game are influenced by those available to the player in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Three of Wolverine's attacks (his level 3 super, his Adamantium attack, and its super) are examples of this.
X-Men: Next Dimension features twenty-four playable characters. Many can be unlocked through gameplay in other modes, and alternate costumes for each character are also available. The X-Men wear their New X-Men or X-Treme X-Men suits as their primary costumes in the game.
Of these, two are essentially mirrors of other characters, although still retaining their individuality: Phoenix is essentially similar to the unlockable Dark Phoenix, although the two differ in certain Supers (Phoenix's are more psi-based, while Dark Phoenix takes her powers from the fiery appearance of the Phoenix). Similarly, Betsy and Psylocke are essentially the same character, save that "Betsy" is based on the Betsy Braddock's telepathic incarnation and employs a "psi-blade" emerging from her fist, and "Psylocke" is based on the more recent telekinetically-powered version and manifests a fully-formed psionic katana in combat.