Big gulp

X-men Origins: Wolverine (the game)

Friday, May 1, 2009 | 05:53 PM | by
So after working over at the house this morning, I came home and diligently played a couple stages of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so that I could tell you guys what I thought of it. Of course, you can form your own opinion, there's a demo up on XBL. You'll likely come to the same conclusion I have, though.

This game is fun.

To be clear, Wolverine is a hack n' slash action title, and not a whole lot more. The plot is pretty straightforward (moreso than the film, from what I hear), and you play Wolverine in his pre-adamantium days, through his berserk escape from the Weapon X facility, and beyond. You're not going to solve any elaborate puzzles, you're not going to be offered dialogue options. You are going to do a lot of talking with your very, very sharp claws. And that's about the gist of it. If shredding and mutilating hundreds of enemies with brutal, satisfying combar, for hours and hours doesn't appeal to you, this may not be your game. In fact, if that's the case, you probably don't even like Wolverine. Or fun.

You get two basic attacks (light and heavy), a jump, a block, and a grapple. With these simple tools, Raven has managed to create a combat game with a huge variety of vicious moves. Enough moves and combos that it's all the game really is, and it still remains enjoyable for hours on end. I just haven't gotten sick of watching Wolverine tear through hordes of soldiers

There's also a Lunge move which, if you were to imagine the game without it, almost single-handedly differentiates the title between "good" and "great". With the Lunge, Wolverine can cross large areas very quickly, getting right into combat. And the attack at the end of the lunge can be varied using the other attack buttons for some brutal combos.

And man, this game is brutal. Wolverine will shred limbs, impale people on spikes, decapitate soldiers, even tear them in half at the midsection. You get some cinematic flair with finishing moves, and you can even attempt a quick kill, in which Wolvie eviscerates his foe in some bloody fashion.

I don't believe that games have to be incredibly violent to be good, but when you've got an animalistic mutant with razor claws in his hands, and that can take an astonishing amount of punishment and keep on truckin', violence is just plain called for. And this game has it in all its glory.

And speaking of taking punishment, Logan's healing factor is in full effect in this game. As you take damage you will literally see chunks of flesh, and gaping holes torn in his body. And it's not just a texture effect, either. You can actually see different layers (skin, muscle, bone, organs) as the damage to a particlar area goes deeper and deeper. Wolverine has a life meter, at the end of which his vital organs are exposed. If you continue to take damage after this point, Wolverine will fail whatever task he's attempting, due to the severe damage he's taken.

If you stop taking damage for a short while, his healing factor kicks in, and you can watch his body piece itself back together. It's a pretty cool effect, and one that ends up being a perfect marriage of character and video game mechanics.

Still, it's not a perfect game. There are a few things that, while still enjoyable, are a bit repetitive the third or fourth time around. While there are a ton of different ways to kill normal bad guys, so far killing big dudes is the same trick every time. Dodge 'em, jump on their back and stabby-stabby for a bit, then jump off, rinse and repeat. It's fun, but it gets a little tedious.

In the same vein, the boss battles don't make a lot of sense in context, and there just aren't enough of them. What is there is pretty fun though.

They did add a few features which, while uncessary, do serve to add a bit of depth to the game. There are various ways in which you can customize Wolverine throughout the course of the game. As you level up you can improve your skills and health in a few ways. You can also collect mutagens throughout the game, which you can equip to augment certain facets of Wolverine's killing abilities. The game didn't really need this, but it's completely unintrusive, and a welcome little addition.

There are some collectables throughout the levels which will unlock challenges for some limited replayability, and an unlockable hard mode for a second challenging play-through.

If you like Wolverine, if you like beat-em-ups, if you like action titles, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is pretty damn solid. And fun. Don't let it's movie-licensed nature turn you away, this may be a rare case where the movie video game is actually better than the movie itself.