Review by Gruel

Reviewed: 07/02/09

Crazy action yields mindless fun that is far better than the film

Most games that are released alongside a big hit movie unfortunately do not fare as well as their box office counterpart. X-Men Origins: Wolverine changes that as players control the most popular X-Man through the events that transpired from the film and comic books. X-Men Origins was originally a unique game from the developers at Raven Software, the same talented individuals who crafted a previous top tier superhero game in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. When Marvel confronted them about tying this into the upcoming movie, they already had the core game completed and were allotted extra development time to add in more levels relating to the film. The extended development cycle helps make this one of the best movie licensed games in quite some time, not that there was necessarily a high bar to usurp that is.

Do not go into the videogame adaptation of X-Men Origins expecting the story to be told verbatim from the film. Raven put its own spin on a few of the pivotal moments from the film. Also interspersed throughout the game are flashback missions of Logan’s assignment in Africa when he was a member of Team X that took a turn for the worse. Raven twisted around the way a few things played out in that section of the game compared to the film too. Without spoiling anything, Raven’s changes to the script are for the better and more entertaining compared to how bizarre some of the storytelling was in the movie.

Players who have tried action games such as God of War and Conan will feel right at home with the action and controls in X-Men Origins. Wolverine learns more extensive combos and special attacks as he levels up and acquires experience with each and every single vanquished enemy. Wolverine has a wide arsenal of attacks, aside from fundamental three-to-five button combo attacks; Logan has a useful lunge attack which automatically shoots him across to one of the nearest foes. Also of note are quick kills and counter attacks which look killer, but take some time to successfully execute and some players may find it optimal to dish out a quick combo or lunge attack. Some of the coolest maneuvers are Wolverine’s Fury attacks like the self explanatory whirlwind and torpedo attacks that not only look brutally awesome, but make it easier to take out multiple adversaries too. Regenerating health almost seems expected out of most games nowadays, but it has been a staple in nearly every game featuring Wolverine since that has been one of his featured characteristics, and X-Men Origins is no different.

X-Men Origins is at its best when Wolverine is shredding the tar out of everything, but after a few hours into play it does not take long for the action to become tedious. Raven realized this too, so not everything is slice and dice for the Adamantium mutant, thus he will encounter many puzzles throughout his quest to break up the action. Some of these include using modules to rotate platforms and pillars to make it across an otherwise unreachable gap. Wolverine has a handy ability called “Feral Senses” that highlights objects vital to solving these puzzles and helps direct him in the right direction. The only downside to the puzzles is that a strong majority of them are far too generic. It is almost as if Raven pulled these puzzles out from a beginner’s guide to platforming book, because many of them are repeated numerous times throughout the game. Additionally, at some points the ratio of puzzles to combat is ridiculous, especially the Sentinel factory level which for whatever reason is crammed to the brim with puzzles.

Boss fights are epic in nature, and some like the Gambit duel will seem surreal compared to the movie. Aside from facing individuals from the film like Sabretooth, Blob, Gambit and Deadpool, Wolverine will also square off against rivals from the comic books like a monstrous Sentinel. An X-Men game having a Sentinel fight is as mandatory as a Mario game having a face off with Bowser, so the fact that X-Men Origins contains the best Sentinel fight than any X-Men game previously released is one heck of an accomplishment. If one has played Shadow of the Colossus than they will know what to expect as Raven nailed the size and scope of the battle and is intense fun until the very end. It is so good a boss that it seemed like the original last fight in the game. Because while the Blob fight is another awesome confrontation, the boss fight with him and Deadpool have this feeling that they were tacked at the end of development when Raven learned that this game was going to be based on the film.

X-Men Origins is lengthier than the typical movie game, clocking in at 15 hours. Trimming off roughly 2-3 hours of the lengthier stages could have alleviated most of the monotony. There is no multiplayer, and the only noteworthy bonus is unlockable duels with various comic book costumed versions of Wolverine that upon winning will unlock for play in the main game. There has already been some downloadable content released that contains several combat simulators that pits Logan against increasingly difficult waves of adversaries. Additionally, while the graphics look stunning and contain buckets more blood and gore than the film, there are animations that look buggy and unpolished that tarnish the overall experience. Seriously, this is one of the bloodiest games to be released on this console generation. It is surprising to see Marvel allow one of their marquee characters to be unleashed in a Mature rated game. At least the PS3 and 360 “Uncaged” editions are that is, the Wii release has a Teen rating and after watching some footage online, it appears that Activision stripped most of the blood and gore eye candy that dominate the Uncaged versions.

The only talent from the film that was able to provide voice work for the game was Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Liev Schriber as Sabretooth. Both do a fantastic job and definitely did not phone this in. The sound-a-likes for the rest of the cast yield mixed results, such as the actor who voices Gambit provides a serviceable Cajun accent. On the flipside however, characters that the actors who did not even have their likenesses appear in the game like William Stryker and Agent Zero had practically no resemblance to their personalities in the film. The rest of the audio is on the money, and understandably the sound effect that reigns supreme is the slashing of Wolverine’s Adamantium claws. The soundtrack is familiar to the score from the film, and kicks in at various key moments, but for the most part is washed away in the background amongst the crazy action.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one of the best games to be licensed off a film this generation. Raven knew what they were doing, and this is vastly superior then the three previous games that exclusively featured Wolverine. X-Men Origins still has some faults and will test the patience of some players in its final stretch, but for fans of the film or comics this is a must play.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Uncaged Edition) (US, 05/01/09)

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