Outside of Batman: Arkham City and Spiderman: Edge of Time, most major comic book video games releasing this year are tie-ins with their respective blockbuster films. We played Thor: God of Thunder, got a close look at Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters and are still waiting on Captain America: Super Soldier – all three of which have movies debuting this summer from Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment – but what about the X-Men?

The X-Men franchise is also getting a video game called X-Men: Destiny and a film in the form of X-Men: First Class although unlike the aforementioned properties, these two X-Men projects are entirely unreleated. X-Men: Destiny has been a game shrouded in relative mystery aside from a few screenshots of the game’s playable characters. Today Activision demo’d the game for us and we finally have an idea of what the game is really about and how it plays.

The theme of this X-Men game is choice, hinting at non-linear gameplay, character customization and the ability to choose your side as a mutant learning his/her powers. As we learned today, some of this turned out to be the case, some not so much.

Producer Doug Heder walked us through 30 minutes of gameplay for X-Men: Destiny, a game which is based in the current X-Men comics timeline and revolves around a story by Marvel writer Mike Carey. It takes place in San Francisco after the death of Professor X where Cyclops is the current X-Men leader.

As we already know, X-Men: Destiny introduces players to three new playable characters in the Marvel Universe (Two we know as Aimi Yoshida & Grant Alexander), young mutants who just discovered their mutant abilities. Throughout the game however, players will encounter, fight with, fight against and take mission orders from plenty of familiar characters including Nightcrawler, Surge, Colossus, Juggernaut, Northstar, Quicksilver, Mystique, Pyro, Magneto, Gambit, Cyclops, Wolverine and many, many more.

Players will be able to choose one core power for their character and through the game mechanic of collecting X-genes to upgrade and alter the character’s mutant power set, you’ll be able to add specific powers (from the canon Marvel mutants) and later, even their costumes. If you load out all of your power moves with one character’s set and wear their costume, you unlock a special ability. The game lets players switch out powers anytime during the game, but the core power remains the same.

Actual gameplay involves melee and power moves which can be worked together to form combos. The names of the combos pop up stylishly on screen as they are performed, similar to how unleashing combos worked in the X-Men: Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance titles worked. As you perform moves, you fill up a meter on the top left for three power attacks, pre-selected super powers, each successive one more powerful than the previous. If all three slots are full, the third one is a complete crowd clearer and you can say goodbye to any and all enemy characters on screen.

We also witnessed a boss battle against the enemies who have synthesized X-Genes, allowing them to essentially create mutants, although this particular one was deformed because of the experimentation. Throughout the battle, the enemy character named Sublime grabbed X-Genes and injected itself, making it bigger and giving it more power.

Once defeated, the player was met with a “Destiny Moment” where you’ll need to make a moral or philosophical decision that will affect the character’s progression and alignment in the game. Choose either X-Men faction or Brotherhood faction and the characters and powers you encounter throughout the game will differ on each playthrough. What does not seemingly change however, is the story or locations so we don’t know yet how these decisions will affect the overall character’s journey and the end of the game.

X-Men: Destiny appears set to cater to Marvel mutant fans but its dated graphics and use of large amounts of monotonous low-level villains hint at plenty of button mash gameplay. What we saw was a pre-Alpha build so we expect the textures, animations and hit detection to improve before the title releases late September on the Xbox 360, PS3, 3DS and Wii.

Stay tuned to Game Rant for more news and updates as E3 2011 continues through the week.