Sunday, June 7, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Game: X-men Origins: Wolverine

System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Release: May 2009

Wolverine is no stranger to the digital world. He has been in just about every X-men game released since the dawn of comic based games. Unfortunately he hasn’t been in a good one since Marvel vs. Capcom 2. This all changes with X-men Origins. Raven has created a fun experience that provides a more robust plot then the movie. They also released a title full of bugs, repetitive gameplay, and poor pacing.

Starting with what they did right, this is the first game that actually treats
Wolverine like a killing machine. Players will immediately notice the generous amount of blood and guts. It’s about dam time Wolverine is sharing traits with Ryu Hyabusa and Kratos. Wolverine will slash off arms, decapitate foes, impale enemies on environmental objects, and throw bad guys off mountain tops. There is even a finishing move that brutally destroys whoever Wolverine is holding. The combat is smooth, effective, and fun. Raven also utilizes Wolverines famous healing ability to the extreme. Logan can be blown up to the bare bones and players will literally see him regenerate lost tissue. Finally, there is a Feral Sense that will guide players through the level and illustrate various assets to interact with. These range from pick ups to level objectives. All of these features vividly illustrate Wolverines abilities while creating an entertaining experience.

The other strong point for X-men Origins is the story itself. The game contains a majority of the movie dialogue, but takes the plot further into the Marvel universe. Wolverine will eventually visit a research facility that is developing the very first Sentinel. For fans of the comics this is a real treat. By the end of the level players are fighting a larger then life Sentinel as they plummet to the Earth. Wolverine will also face off against the Blob, Gambit, and off course Sabertooth. Interestingly enough Wolverine can even fight himself. Finding collectible figurines in the game will unlock alternative costumes. To earn the right to wear the costumes you have to fight your alter ego in the Danger Room. These fights are challenging because the cloned Wolverine has all the same moves as the player, and is a nice bonus along side the solid story.

Now that the praise is over let’s bring on the pain—err criticisms. This game relies on a crutch move. While targeting an enemy Wolverine can lunge across the screen and impale them with his claws head on. This mechanic is fun, but ultimately used way too often. Each boss fight requires you to lunge at the enemy. The only difference is what you do before you lunge. Players will also frequently lunge to distant enemies for various platforming segments. It would have been nice to have more situations where others moves were utilized.

Another issue with this game involves the pacing of the story. The flashback mechanic is employed way too often. After Wolverine gets his admantium skeleton the game will flashback to Africa. Whenever he meets a new character the game will time warp to Africa. The overall length of the game is good, and the story is delivered just fine. Hell even the poor facial mechanics and bad acting are excusable. The flashbacks, however, are just too much.

Finally we come to the bugs. Wolverine suffers from collision problems, a handful of debatable art issues, and a few progression stoppers. When fighting giant enemies Wolverine can be picked up and thrown. The animation usually plays out smooth, but occasionally Wolverine will just magically appear on the floor. He may not match up with the giant’s hand either, and the camera will frequently go through environmental assets to reveal untextured areas. These issues are not game breaking, but they don’t help the overall experience.

Wolverine’s healing ability is the debatable art issue. For some reason it insists on regenerating his clothes as well as his flesh. Now I’m not really interested in seeing a naked Wolverine throughout the game, but the shirt could have stayed off. The healing ability also fails to match Wolverines health bar. You can be at full health and still remain a bloody mess. Again this is nothing game breaking. More polish, however, would have helped create a solid visual presentation.

Last but not least are the progression stoppers. I ran into two during my first play through. One was during the fight with Gambit. I knocked him off a platform to the floor below. This wouldn’t be an issue if I could have joined him on the lower floor. Instead I had to restart from the last check point. The second progression stopper occurred during a load screen—probably during a flashback to Africa.

X-men Origins: Wolverine is a fun yet flawed game. The combat is solid, but the lunge move is abused. The story is better then the movie, but has too many flashbacks that disrupt the pace. Players can use all of Wolverines powers for probably the first time in a video game. Unfortunately the adventure is littered with bugs. Fans of Wolverine will love this game. Fans of hack and slash games will enjoy a solid renter. The rest will play something else. Snerts Snazzy Score grants X-men Origins: Wolverine a 3.5 out of 5.

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