X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review
|Release Date:||May 1st, 2009 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Film tie-in games. Those three words send me into hysterics every time I hear them, and for good reason- they almost always suck. Now, some people may accuse me of being a bit harsh, but look at the history- E.T’s game was ranked as one of the worst ever made and with the likes of Kung Fu Panda and Beowulf filling up the shelves, it is little wonder that most tie-ins are little but a half-hearted attempt to rake in a little more cash from the consumer by peddling an unfinished and wholly un-fulfilling game after the movie’s release.
That’s what’s so different about Wolverine. Though it pains me to say it, here we have a film tie-in which is… decent. The game centres around the origin of everyone’s favourite muscled, claw-wielding amnesiac, The Wolverine.
Though it loosely follows the plot of the movie, the game sees fit to expand a little on its film brethren and wanders all over the world, filling in the (hundreds) of plot holes left out by the movie.
Unfortunately, the game itself seems to be one big plot hole, with an odd time-travelling storyline which often abjectly refuses to explain why Wolverine is in Africa and fighting a giant rock creature- is it a mutant? Is it ancient magic? It’s never explained, and the game often resorts to telling the backstory through recorded audio diaries found on computers or videotapes which, in its defence, are pretty well voice acted.
Hugh Jackman himself does an excellent job of portraying Wolverine, continuing his stellar work in the first three movies (though not in Origins…) Starting out in Africa, with Wolverine and his half-brother Sabretooth fighting as part of a team of super-mutants, the game travels across the US to Asia and Europe as Wolverine hunts down his estranged brother and slashes hundred upon hundreds of rent-a-goons. And that’s one of the main problems with this game- it takes hack and slashing to the extreme.
While I understand that that’s what Wolverine is good at (or to use his words: "I’m the best at what I do") other than a couple of silly stealth and platform sections, the entire game centres around separating as many enemies from their lives as possible. Luckily, the sheer graphic brutality makes this a little more enjoyable.
And boy, is this game graphic. In the movies, you might see Wolverine slice and dice a few goons, in this game Wolverine is a wrecking ball of destruction who is capable of ripping men in heavy armoured suits in half, then use the remains to bash other enemies.
The sideburned-one has a huge number of attacks in his repertoire, ranging from using his claws to eviscerate enemies in mid air to slicing them in half, ripping their heads off, throwing them into the environment’s various spiked/electrified/spinning blades, cannons or fences and even comes with a very handy lunge which sends Weapon X flying across the screen and ramming his target with both blades- visceral.
The enemies themselves come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from machete-wielding human torches to heavily armoured walkers and even an excellent stand-off against a gargantuan Sentinel.
Also facing Wolverine are a few boss battles against some of the characters from the movie and a few from the comic books, all of whom require a different approach and a different set of attacks as many can defend against three-claw’s deadly force, though many of the fights are again left unexplained.
Graphically the game is pretty good. There is very little pop up and the draw distance keeps the game moving along nicely with very little loading times. However, the levels themselves seem to go on forever. The second mission, for example, took me a good 40 minutes to complete, most of which consisted of me fighting my way through a pretty decent recreation of the Weapon X facility chasing after some doctor for some silly reason- fun, but pointless.
Wolverine himself can be tailored to the gamer’s personal desire, with pick-ups of specific mutagens and experience points allowing Wolverine’s various attributes to be upgraded and put to better use. However, being as defeating an entire warehouse of enemies is pretty easy, these upgrades do little to adjust the gameplay- and the reason for this ease of play? Wolverine’s ‘healing factor’.
Just like the comics and movies, Wolvie can regenerate his destroyed skin and keep battling when most men (and mutants) would have been turned into a red paste. Provided Wolverine can get a little R and R his health regenerates and his ‘vitals’ (heart, liver… adamantium skeleton) stay undamaged- take too much damage and even Hugh Jackman will pass on.
The graphics admirably demonstrate this- Wolverine’s avatar becomes more and more damaged depending on the amount of punishment the player is taking and before long the man can be almost reduced to just his adamantium skeleton- which slowly becomes covered in skin and muscle again during a lull in the fighting- pretty cool to look at, but I’ve still to figure out why his signature white vest regenerates too…
It seems a shame that such a good game has decided to rely entirely on its over-abundance of gore to make it interesting.
Though the gameplay is fast and fluid, it is let down by a lack of plot and an obsession with gory killings. Though there are a few unlock-able challenges and changes of costume (including the signature black and yellow of his comic book years), it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for very long.
X Men Origins: Wolverine is very good- for a film tie-in game. Though it relies heavily on its 18 certificate, it is an enjoyable blast through the Marvel universe sadly let down through an abundance of plot holes and occasionally repetitive gameplay- one to buy if you like to slice and dice anything that gets in your way. Or if you have a thing for massive sideburns.
- Fast pace
- Brutal gameplay
- Hugh Jackman is awesome
Not so good stuff
- Repetitive nature
- Plot hole alert!
- Loooooong levels