RELEASED: May 1, 2009
AVAILABLE ON: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
DEVELOPER(S): Raven Software
After the original X-Men film trilogy came to an end with X-Men: The Last Stand, the same producers started working out a reboot. They decided to start with a film dedicated to the origins of the most popular X-Men character, Wolverine, and explore the rivalry between him and Sabretooth, as it was never properly done in the original trilogy. Though Liev Schreiber was cast to replace Tyler Mane as Victor Creed, Hugh Jackman was recast as Logan without second thought. The film cleverly introduced many Marvel stalwarts to the Marvel cinematic universe, including Silverfox (Lynn Collins), Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and most notably, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), and it was a hit in the box office, but critics hated it and Hugh Jackman himself (who also worked as one of the producers) was disappointed in the film. The film premiered in Australia and the United Kingdom first, and in the United States on May 1st, 2009. That very same day, a game entitled X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out on the PlayStation 2, Wii, PSP and the Nintendo DS. PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners got the "Uncaged Edition" of the game. The latter got mighty fine reviews to its credit, especially in comparison to the movie - some critics even said that the expanded plotline of the game was written much better than the movie in its entirety. Quite impressed by the demo back in the day myself, I decided to give X-Men Origins: Wolverine a chance. Turns out the game deserved it. It's not a top-quality hack 'n' slash game by any means, but it was clearly made with some heart for Marvel fans and gamers alike, and it's one of the best X-Men games there is.
"Can I help you?" "Are you a beer?"
Hugh Jackman : Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine
Liev Schreiber : Victor Creed
Dave Florek : Col. William Stryker
April Stewart : Kayla Silverfox
will.i.am : John Wraith
Steven Blum : Wade Wilson
Robert Wu : David Nord, a.k.a. Agent Zero
Anna Graves : Raven Darkholme
Gregg Berger : Fred J. Dukes, a.k.a. The Blob
Chris Edgerly : Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit
|OK boys, let's put some metal on metal. I'm|
guessing mine wins.
While being hunted by an anti-mutant army some time in the future, Logan reminisces on his fragmented past as a soldier in Colonel William Stryker's strike force, the events which led to a violent grudge against his half-brother and former associate Victor Creed, and finally, his involvement with Stryker's Weapon X program.
Let's get one thing straight right away, completely regardless of how this review's going to end. When you make a good movie, the game's probably going to suck. When you make a bad movie, the game's definitely going to suck. Since critical reception to X-Men Origins: Wolverine was so mixed, you could say this game breaks both rules. In its usually poor company, Wolverine could easily be called a great game. Then, on to the usual stuff: I sincerely liked the film, I don't understand why people were so hard on it and went so easy on a crapfest like the last film in the trilogy. Jackman pulled his best Wolverine since the first film - still the best film in the whole franchise if you ask me - Lynn Collins looked smoking hot and made her 15 minutes on screen the best parts of the film with that feat alone, and though I admit the script could've used a bit more depth and more of that same spirit that made for the best parts of the trilogy, and though it's clear as day the CGI effects sucked horse balls, I think it was all in all, an entertaining action film. They could've done worse.
Here, we have the game, which is surprisingly faithful to the movie. No actual changes to the plotline here - almost every major event and plot twist in the movie takes place in the game in occasionally alternate fashion - but it's greatly expanded to meet the standards of a full-length, third-person action game, as well as an X-Men game. The two main characters and a few random ones are voiced by the same actors that worked on the movie, which gives off good vibrations from the start. It's definitely a CGI model of Hugh Jackman we're in control of, who's actually voiced by Hugh Jackman, and not just another comic book caricature who's faintly modelled after Hugh Jackman and voiced by Mark Hamill.
|I feel like I've been doing this for an hour.|
The game features appearances - were they just cameos or main cast appearances - by a few Marvel Comics stalwarts, who are somewhat designed after their appearances on film, including the original X-Men trilogy if they happened to be in those films. I think it's fantastic, it does wonders to the continuity. The distracting downside is that whoever does not reprise their role from the film, have also had their characters designed after their earlier film or comic book depictions. The voiceover work definitely hits the mark; the gaps are filled with some of the most talented artists in the field. No subtitles, though, and you know how silently Jackman speaks; it's very hard to make out his lines from time to time. The sound effects are top notch, and the music is of the standard yet functional variety.
As far as general gameplay is concerned, X-Men Origins: Wolverine non-surprisingly follows the most basic guidelines of Devil May Cry and God of War. You hack and slash your way through countless enemy waves (more countless than usual), solve a few mild puzzles along the way, upgrade your abilities with EXP dropped by enemies, and test your might in a few more or less strategic boss fights ("strategic" isn't a seal of quality), QTE's and all. The storytelling style itself brings a little colour to the bland level design; you constantly switch between two periods in Logan's life, the first being Team X's final mission in the jungles of Africa which leads to their disbandment, and the other being Logan's pursuit of his half-brother and teammate Victor Creed in Canada, after the latter kills his girlfriend Silverfox and thus, provokes Logan into taking part in his former superior Stryker's Weapon X program which both blesses and curses him with an unbreakable adamantium skeleton.
|I just had to put this here. Joyride, part 1.|
The boss fights in this game are boring as hell at their worst, especially on Hard. The lunge is a very important ability as the enemies tend to be large and their weak spots just happen to be at their upper backs or their heads. You have to lunge in, claw at the weak spot as fast as you can, jump away before they hit you, then rinse and repeat for a million times. They just don't seem to go down and you'll start to feel like you're doing something wrong, or that there must be a better way. No, there is not. And the bosses' strategies never change, there are no particular changes to their behavioral patterns that whole time. You have to prove yourself to the game, time and again - "Look asshole, I've GOT this!"
|Joyride, part 2. Best sequel ever.|
Some abilities you really learn on the go, some are there from the beginning, executable if you experiment enough. You level up automatically by killing enemies and gain a maximum health boost; starting with level 5, you start to earn skill points which you can assign to whatever you want. There are plenty of upgrades to be had for your health, endurance, strength, and each one of your special Rage abilities. Unlike in any other X-Men game where Rage just means you'll go berserk and gain a temporary boost to your strength and speed, here it's just one of the four Rage abilities. The others are fast and brutal manouvers that can often save your hide in a tough spot or a crowd. There's a Rage meter for these abilities, which goes up when you gather these orange orbs, dropped by enemies and found inside breakable background items. About time the orbs turned up.
|Calling for silly bonus attires.|
The game is a cakewalk for a true hack 'n' slash veteran; there's no question that as decent as the game is, the biggest challenge is to bear it - the level design, the simple amount of claw fodder and the boring boss fights will get on your nerves sooner or later. The Achievements for this game really aren't from the hardest end either, so if you're a die-hard X-Men fan, I'm guessing this is one game you'd want to go all in for.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is far from a perfect genre game among its distinguished peers, but it is truly a remarkable game in the field of movie licenses, and to think it was received so much better than the film! I don't remember something like this ever happening; I'm even willing to overlook some minor stuff 'cause the game's such a step up. It's a joy to bring the X-Men branch of the Marvel marathon to an end on such a positive note, after having to endure such pain including what I perceive the worst game in history. Very recommendable for hack 'n' slash and Wolverine fanatics, however you should not expect a game you could just go at again and again - but a good, cheap novelty item to keep you busy during the hard rains.
+ The best playable Wolverine ever
+ A nice and simple character development system
+ Immediately useful collectibles
+ Yummy cameos and a good story altogether, expanded greatly from the film
+ Fast and brutal combat mechanics...
- ...Combat itself gets brutally repetitive even faster
- Back-and-forth, lengthy and repetitive levels, compensated for a little with the steady alternation between a few scenarios
- Crappy boss fights, not nearly up to any standard of the genre
- As much as I like Jackman, he could speak up; no subtitles
< 7.8 >