Posted by aruljothi
- Jun 11, 2009, 01:56 AM
Release Date: 05/01/2009
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: Raven Software
Making certain superhero videogames must be difficult. Some guys, like Batman, are just regular people with lots of money and awesome gadgets, and they can still die. But what about nearly immortal characters, like Superman? The Man of Steel has kryptonite to make him a little more "human," but Marvel's undying bundle of anger, Wolverine, can survive almost anything (or at least put himself back together after being torn to shreds). Wolverine's latest adventure X-Men Origins: Wolverine, does a great job of making you feel like the nearly invincible mutant, but it doesn't quite provide a story to match.
Like the title indicates, Origins details Wolverine's beginnings...well more of the origin of his name and adamantium frame. The character's true origin began in the 1800s. Regardless, Origins' five-chapter tale alternates between the present (mostly the Weapon X facility) and three years in the past (in an African jungle), setting up a frame story that slowly but surely drives the narrative forward. After act three, however, things start to get weird; for every question the game answers, it brings up two more. Other popular mutants, like Gambit and the Blob, make brief appearances, but their cameos only confuse the tale of flashbacks further. By the end, the game has set up so many loose plot threads that it leaves no choice but to try and wrap them up in a confusing mishmash of explosions and overlong battles.
But you're playing this game for one reason and it's not for a Dickensian retelling of Logan's history; it's to do what "he does best": tear people in half with reckless, bloody abandon. And that's what Origins gets right. The camera cinematically sweeps around the battlefield, and the game throws the action into slow motion whenever you execute an especially violent decapitation. And almost every enemy can succumb to getting ripped apart at the torso or a messy decapitation. The combos are simple, and button-mashing usually works just as well as any type of strategy. But the game always makes you feel like an effective killing machine.
The guys you're killing, however, get old pretty fast. Both the "past" jungle levels and "present" facility chapters pit you against the exact same enemies, reskinned to fit their surroundings. It's even more off-putting when you start fighting mutants. How many blade-wielding, four-armed dancers exist in Wolverine's world? Apparently several hundred. Boss encounters, while they force you to change up your battle strategy a little, are simple exercises in running around in circles, leaping on your opponent's back, and slowly whittling away at their health bar.
But to ease the grind of fighting the game's endless parade of cloned grunts, Origins incorporates a few adventure-like qualities (leveling up, equipping new powers, choosing which skills to power up). While it adds a sense of purpose to the slaughter, it's also a bit misleading. You can constantly upgrade your strength and stamina, but the enemies always seem to take the same amount of punishment. And it makes the cut-scenes, where Wolverine effortlessly slices through skin, bone, and concrete walls that much more jarring. How do the same enemies take so much more damage when they're in-game? By the end of Origins, I was hoping to have created a Wolverine who could swing a fist and immediately send limbs flying, rather than a character that feels about the same as he did at the beginning of the game.