X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse was released by Activision today for the N-Gage, continuing the story that started in part one and introducing an expanded cast of characters that are bound to set fans’ pulses racing. Perhaps the most exciting storyline development is that Professor Xavier’s heroic X-Men and Magneto’s evil Brotherhood are fighting side-by-side for the same cause as they try to defeat Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen. With 13 playable characters to choose from, it means you can even play as Magneto, Juggernaught or Bishop and combine both good and bad mutants in your squad.

The gameplay remains unchanged from the first game; you control a squad of four mutants and must fight and puzzle your way through a selection of levels and locations that will be familiar to anyone who’s read the comics, seen the movies or watched the cartoons. You can switch between the mutants in your squad at will, enabling you to make use of their individual special abilities. You can also set out on your own, leaving the squad behind when necessary.

There’s more to the game than simple bad-guy bashing, though. There are potions and artefacts to be collected along the way and you can also upgrade your mutants’ strengths and special abilities. Indeed, it pays to use each member of your squad so that they all get the chance to beef up. Any mutant whose skills are underdeveloped could well prove to be a weak link in later levels.

Other additions to X-Men Legends II include a turn-based two-player mode that complements the four-player Bluetooth mode that’s now been expanded to the N-Gage Arena, too. The visuals and sound effects have been given a polish, too, with prettier scenery and more detailed levels; there seems to be much less wandering around without any landmarks on the screen. The levels are bigger this time around, too, with Activision promising 25 hours’ worth of play from the game, which is almost enough to keep you occupied over the holiday season.