I got handed a free copy of the
[amazonify]B001PKHRVE::text::::X-Men Origins: Wolverine game
[/amazonify] that was recently released by Raven Software. This was a game I had very little interest in buying myself because, well who the heck buys movie games anyway? However, since it was free I decided I might as well play it to see what it was like. So here it is, what I thought. And just for reference on what we are talking about, I did get the PC version of the game largely because I don’t own an X-Box 360, so some of my thoughts of the game may not apply if you are considering the 360 version.
The first thing you notice when entering the game is the graphics. They really are quite nice. I can’t argue that the graphics aren’t great. Oftentimes they rival the movie for quality, even the capture of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was pretty darn good. My only real complaints visually was that the teeth looked awful on nearly every character as well did the eyes, though I tend to excuse the eyes because few games have done well there. It is also kind of humorous when you start getting to some of the ancillary characters later in the game such as Gambit, Wade, and Stryker because these guys look nothing like their acting counterparts which only tells me that the graphics were probably made before the actors were chosen, or without knowledge one of the two.
The controls of this game were just plain lousy. Now this is where the difference between 360 and PC will likely lie. I am sure the controls were just fine on the X-Box 360, but on the PC it just showed that they had absolutely no thought given to the controls of the PC. In and odd way, this is kind of sad because Raven used to be a PC game manufacturer so you would think that it would be easy for them to program in decent controls for the PC. Yes you can change them yourself to be whatever you want them to be, but I think a lot of the problem landed in combos which you can’t really program to be a separate key.
On a related note, like many of these types of games the camera controls were often in the way. There were times that I couldn’t see what was going on or move out of the way largely because of visibility issues. This usually happened when an opponent knocked me to a corner and then charged at me. It was very difficult to get out of this just because of the bad camera. Camera became downright unbearable in a few scenes which generally involved running, such as the flooding of the dam early in the game. It started out forcing you to run the opposite way you just were so that you could see water coming at you, but then midway down the tunnel it would switch to a front view so that you could see vehicles and in this you would have to change direction of your running or die.
The gameplay itself was fine. There really wasn’t much to expect out of it and you really didn’t get much in return. Wolverine is a classic hack and slash game and you knew it going in. There really isn’t much different from the first 5 minutes of the game to the last 5 minutes of the game, although you can tell that Raven gave some attempts at trying to change it up. Honestly, about the only real difference in defeating opponents was that most of the bosses required you to jump on them from behind.
Really I think the greatest fault of the hacking and slashing really fell on Wolverine himself. He turns out to be a fairly uninteresting character to play in a game. Yeah, it is cool for the first 15 minutes, but then it’s just like… hack.. hack… hack and nothing ever kills you. The only way I tended to die was when I got stuck in the camera, or if I fell off a building or into water or something. If a helicopter was shooting at me, I really wasn’t in any danger which takes away any suspense you have in the game.
Navigation was a no brainer as the game was on rails the entire time, and if you got somewhat mixed up in a particular area, or just didn’t know what to do… they had an easy cheat mode where you would have heightened senses which would allow you to see exactly where you needed to go and what you needed to do (not really what Wolverine’s heightened senses were but whatever. It really was just an easy way to cheat. The puzzles too were a no brainer, I appreciated the attempt but you could tell they were an afterthought to the developers.
An interesting addition to the game was levels and skills and mini-equipment slots. It was nice to have added depth to the game where you could tweak out your character a little bit. But to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference when gaining a level. It seemed like stuff took down health just as much at level 30 as level 1, and the boss mob that was at the end of the first stage took just as many strikes fully tweaked on damage at 30 as it did on that first stage. I just don’t get what happened here. They had a really good idea that was mostly an idea on the surface and had absolutely no baring on the game.
I also wanted to give a little thought to the gore. I have actually seen a lot out there talking about how gorey this game actually is, and it is far too much. This game almost single-handedly begs for a new ESRB rating of iM (which I could name at least a dozen games that came out in the last year that would also suffice) for Immature. These games would be so gorey that they are not mature. I actually thought the game needed to be rated M, much like I thought the movie should have been R. Wolverine is a dark character and you need a harsher rating to be able to deal with the stabing people in the neck with knives from time to time. But this game went into the senseless column and I actually would have preferred a T rating to do without the amounts of gore they involved in it.
Lastly, the comparison between movie and game. This game also proves that you can’t really compare a game to a movie very well. Overall between the two, yes the game is better but largely just because it is fun to hack up some people from time to time. However, cinematography wise the movie was better, so was a lot of the action sequences. And the story was far better in the movie, which is what a movie is about anyway. And I would also like to point out that given how bad the story in the movie was, it shows how bad it is in this game. You can tell Raven was given lines from the script but had no idea how to use them. They were often shoved in completely the wrong areas in ways where you had no idea why the guy said what he did. The writing for the game was terrible, just dreadful. I would say that they should fire the guy who wrote the screenplay for the game, but I bet they don’t have someone who does that at Raven, they probably just have some poor little level designer do it (who is likely great at level design but obviously writing and level design are two different fields of work).
Overall… I don’t know how to rate it. IGN gave this an 7.8 I think. I think I would give it closer to a 5.8. I wouldn’t recommend it as a game to buy. I feel bad, because I know people at Raven, they are good people and often good at what they do. I think this game could have been great if it wasn’t a movie game and if they fleshed out more of the game (probably had more time), and maybe hired someone to write. This game was a failure of the situation as well as the industry more than the company.