X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review
developer: Raven Software
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: May 01, 09
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We've grown quite fond of the character of Wolverine, largely thanks to the comics as well as the first two X-Men flicks. Even though the movie marked a solid debut at the US Box Office, critics and viewers had mostly bad things to say about Hollywood's latest superhero blockbuster. If it weren't for the fact that an unfinished print of the film leaked onto the Internet -- getting downloaded 75,000 times in a single day -- we're assuming it would have enjoyed greater financial success like most Marvel-based movie franchises.
Predictably enough, a video game adaptation arrives corresponding with the movie release (such is the way of money-making industry piranhas I guess). Raven Software and Activision somewhat haughtily described the Wolverine video game as "the movie game that finally does not suck." That little catchphrase didn't particularly grab our interest, given how much marketing bullshit we're all forced to swallow year after year strictly for movie related games. We were more intrigued by the fact that the project was given to Raven Software, the creators of games like Soldier of Fortune, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy etc.
At first glance, we thought Raven Software managed to live up to its reputation of offering a solid game experience without overcomplicating things. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a classic action adventure bearing elements witnessed in today's button-mashers. You have your combos, your boss fights, a series of quick-time events, intermingled with cool-looking cut-scenes. The quality of the overall presentation is worthy of most current top games.
With Raven, we expected nothing less. There are some pretty good level ideas here. Although the ideas were obstructed by shoddy programming, so you'll often find yourself stumbling thanks to invisible walls, collision detection problems or similar unwanted symptoms. To make matters worse, the central character goes back and forth quite a lot in order to, say, search for power cells used for unlocking doors. Essentially, there are two settings in this game - Africa, which represents Logan's past (playable flashbacks if you will), and a variety of labs, research facilities and military bases, where he continues his search for answers. You'll repeatedly run into enemies you've already seen. In that sense, boss fights are equally disappointing. Sure, they are fun the first couple of times, but it gets rather dull when you encounter the exact same boss for the fifth time. It's clear enough that the developers had original ideas for boss fights, except they didn't have the time to implement them, so they just copy-pasted one or two concepts and used them constantly throughout the game. The fact that gamers return to the same environments to fight the same enemies (both small and large) adds to the game's overall monotony.
The narrative feels like it needs more work. There are some interesting moments for those who wish to find out more about Wolverine's backstory, but that's about it. Logan is constantly fighting his brother Victor Creed and is in pursuit of his enemy Colonel William Stryker. Much of the story from the movie is revealed in the game, so check out the movie first if you're worried about potential plot spoilers. The game itself doesn't exactly excel in the writing department, with a plot that has more holes in it than fancy Swiss cheese. Wolverine offers a range of one-liners that make things bearable. While the voiceovers are good, certain scenes feel a bit incomplete in terms of dialogue and are far too brief to offer any lucid explanations on what's actually going on.
Thanks to Raven's efforts controlling Wolverine comes as an enjoyable and trouble-free task. Upgrading and fine-tuning different combat abilities is done via experience points gathered from defeated opponents. The amount of experience points you receive depends on your performance in combat. Fancy execution moves, delivering a mix of deadly combos, brings more exp. than ordinary moves. Additional experience is collected by locating and picking up dog-tags from fallen soldiers, whose bodies are scattered throughout the environment. Players are motivated to level up in order to enhance Logan's combat skills, thus unlocking a wide variety of kick-ass combos. Adding a bit more spice to the gameplay, Raven incorporated extra powers for the main character. Wolverine builds up rage, which makes his attacks stronger, but he may also use the claw spin and a devastating berserker mode. With these skills, he can claw his way through hordes of baddies until nobody's left standing. An assortment of objects in the environment may prove useful as well. When he grows tired of punching, slicing and dicing, Logan is also able to impale enemies on pikes, spears and other sharp objects in the environment.
6.9 Above Average
The character is cool to say the least and lays foundation for a solid action game, a huge number of combos and special attacks to master (making the game really enjoyable for several hours), looks and sounds really good;
Story's unclear and incomplete, characters aren't appealing with the exception of Wolverine, fighting an endless fight against the same grunts and bosses, all placed in the same Goddamn levels.