Straight from the pages of Marvel comics and a slightly altered film about a Marvel comic’s character, comes X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This third person action game developed by Raven Software slices away at our expectations and delivers one of the best comic book gaming experiences as the antimantium clawed, anti-hero, Wolverine. Prepare for the uncanny, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Raven Software’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine title, it’s one of the rare movie based game that doesn’t suck. Actually, Wolverine is the opposite, it’s awesome! If you’ve been a gamer for sometime then you should know all about movie games being half-assed, jumbled up messes, well, someone has finally lifted the curse. Without jumping into the gritty, if you’re looking for the bottom line verdict... X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a straight up, buy! Why is it a buy? because besides not sucking this is the ultimate game version of Wolverine we've seen to date. Raven Software has done the impossible... made a video-game adapation of movie, more entertaining then the actual movie its based upon.
The plot takes events from the Gavin Hood’s movie and mixes it up with a number of moments from Wolverines past, back when he was simply Logan, or better yet, Weapon X. Each section of game is intertwined with each other as the story builds up to the current events. This means you’ll get to play Wolverine in a number of settings. When he is working for the bad guys to hunting the very same people down in the future. Wolverine’s back story is fairly in-depth, and even if you’re not a long time fan of the Marvel comics, or have no interest in seeing Hugh Jackman’s role in the feature film. X-Men Origins will give you a good deal of information about the X-Men’s number one bad boy, and you will likely come to appreciate the many layers that make Wolverine so interesting.
Before you go thinking Wolverine is going to make you sit through long cinematic sequences before you get to the killing, no need to worry! From the get go, the :snikt: sounds of Wolverines claws will be dismembering everything in their path as you run through each level at an quickened pace. Impressing, this aspect of the game is a reason you get easy invested in the character. Wolverine starts off running at a good solid pace and keeps the action rocking until the end. Action this fast is enough to make the repetitive battles seem fresher then they are. Really in Wolverine's bones it is a hack n’ slash action game where you fight the same style bad guy’s over-and-over... sure they have different skins, different weapons and a few big monster types, but after the first time around each level, you've seen it all. Even though Wolverine is repetitive in its nature, and on paper might sound boring, it never gets old and always remains fun.
The outstanding quality that keeps the battles fun and fresh is the way combat is handled in the game. It’s your typical face button masher, but Wolverine has a few cool combat tricks that make the battling much more fun. Most notably would be the lunging feature, where you can lock onto a target and when you’re in range, leap onto them to deliver a number of devastating finishing moves. Logan also has a number of sweet quick kill animations that literary rip apart his enemies when activated. Making things even more interesting is the ability to use the environment for kills. This means any type of protrusion, or moving mechanical parts can be used to toss your enemies on, and they are brutally awesome.
Wolverine moves so fast a fluid that pumping an dozen shots into their chest with your razor sharp claws seems as easy as breathing for Weapon X. The animations are really sharp and put together to make a seamless transition from one more to the next. This makes the whole action sequences feel in touch with real world physics, and even though you’re dealing with super-hero’s and giant sized monsters, its feels very real. Another contributing factor is the violent nature of the game which doesn’t hold back any ferocity. Wolverine is a blood thirsty, rip em’ up character from the start and the game continues his animalistic nature.
One of Wolverine’s main powers is his ability to heal and his antimantium forged skeleton. This "almost" makes Wolverine indestructible, but Weapon X can still be overpowered at times. Making Wolverine feel real is accomplished thanks to Raven’s interesting health meter. Raven reminds us that the man-made killing machine is still human, and therefore he can be killed. The two meters you'll need to be concerned about are located in the upper left hand corner of the screen. One meter is your health with a heart icon beating beside it, and underneath it runs the adrenaline meter. When Wolverine’s health is all the way down the small meter starts running down where you can see you heart beating. This means the attacks are hitting his vital organs, which will pretty much stop anything. To get back to your feet, Logan’s health automatically regenerates when he is not taking damage until he is back in tip-top shape. The formula seems so basic; it is interesting that no other game has ever done Wolverine so authentically. In X-Men: Origins it all works out perfectly.
Wolverine can also use his feral sense which helps in solving puzzles, directing the player on the direction to go, along with highlighting spots of interest. These senses are useful if you get stuck, although given the straight-forward linear style of the game you will likely never use them. Out of all my play time in Wolverine I only used them a handful of times making them seem a little useless. I could be the minority here, but I doubt it. The real star of Wolverine’s powers is his rage meter which can be activated to do some deadly attacks. These have four selections form going berserk to unleashing Wolverine’s patented cyclone torpedo role. Like most of the actions in the game you will be rewarded with lots of power-ups and attached achievements.
Bringing up the power-ups you will have to deal with a little bit of character management in Wolverine. During the game you can find hidden dog tags that grant experience, hidden objects that will give your stats a boost, or new levels of a mutagens. Mutagen’s are special bonus that at Wolverine can active on his character like extra rage damage, or gain more experience from kills. Along with managing the mutagen you will want to jump into your players skills and spend you’re points when you get them. Points which are gained from experience can be spent on boosting up Wolverine’s core stats (Rage, Health, Damage) plus it can also be used to improve his Rage abilities. All and all Wolverine’s micromagement and skill points add a nice touch of depth to the game that helps motivate the player keep moving forward.
Wolverine takes on Hugh Jackman’s likeness in the game which seems to fit the Wolverine character perfectly. The other actors from the film take on their likeness like Victor Creed/Sabretooth played by Liev Schreiber, and so on. The environments, which could have used a little more destruction (more on that later) look great and have a nice moody atmosphere to them. Either battling through the jungle, or the north landscape of the Great White North, Wolverine looks solid with a few breath-taking moments to be had. Even with all the quick action on-screen along with the detailed lanscapes, Wolverine keeps things smooth with a solid framerate that rarely takes a hit.
The graphics contribution in X-Men Orginis is Raven’s best work to date. Wolverine is truely the star with detailed modeling and silky smooth animations. Raven’s progressive damaging system actually takes chunks of the flesh from the player that can go as deep as exposing bone, and then it gets rebuilt as Wolverine heals, all in real-time. The depth of detail that Wolverine attains, like flesh ripped off and flesh torn from the body really helps create an atmosphere that makes this comic book world one step closer to being believable. The only questionable aspect of his regeneration in question is his shirts, where does he find all the spares?
While Wolverine is mostly a solid action title, I would have liked the environments to be a little more destructible. It’s defeats the purpose in a way, when you can destroy half the items in a room, while having little items like a shelf, or different coloured boxes not breaking. Another small gripe is that Wolverine doesn't have the ability to pick up items and throw them at enemies. A few times I ran up to a barrel to pick it up as a weapon and had to restep my thinking because it just isn't possible. For a direct comparison I guess I was looking for something similar to Raven's own X-Men Legends which is more destructable, and in that game Wolverine can pick up items. These are only minor little touches that don't change the nature of the game and for complaints that is about it. For a movie based game, that is outstanding. Really, Wolverine is such a stand out title from its direction competition it is almost sickening.
* Note: This review was done on using the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of the game, the “Uncaged Edition” developed by Raven Software. This review doesn't reflect the Wii or Playstation 2 versions that was developed by Amaze Entertainment.
Raven Software acts as the gamers super-hero by developing one of the best comic book gaming experiences in recent memory. X-Men Origins: Wolverine might be marked as a movie-tie in property, but in now way does it perform like one. If you have ever wanted to jump into the shoes as Wolverine and unleashed the savageness beneath his skin, this is the game. Wolverine is fearless as it surpasses expectations making it a definite "must have" title for all X-Men, Marvel, and action gaming fans..
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:8.0, Sound:7.5, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:9.0 Final: 8.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 05.15.09