Letâ€™s be honest, Wolverine has been in need of a decent game adaptation for years now. The last time we saw one was X2: Wolverineâ€™s Revenge, and although it featured a pretty sweet â€śsmell-o-visionâ€ť feature, it failed to hit the mark in most other areas. Now that Wolverine has his own spin-off blockbuster film currently showing in theatres, another game was eminent. But is X-Men Origins: Wolverine just another run of the mill movie-to-game tie-in?
Firstly, anyone who read Marvel comics has got to be familiar with the runt with the side-burns, and has realised how awesome a Wolverine game could be. Heâ€™s basically a living, breathing and very angry Swiss-Army knifeâ€¦ well, a Swiss-Army knife that has nothing but six knives. But Wolverine was known to be ruthlessly brutal, especially when in his trademark berserker rage mode where anything and anyone in his path could expect to be diced into cubes.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine has thankfully captured this essential intense action with its use of combat controls. There are two buttons mapped to attacks, one being a regular â€śslash-likeâ€ť offensive move and the second a heavy, slower but more damaging attack. Using a mixture of these two buttons allows you to unleash a flurry of claws in an assortment of slick combos. The other two face buttons allow you to jump or to grapple an enemy.
Agreeably, these controls sound simple but they still manage to offer a decent amount of variety to the hack-and-slash gameplay. But Raven Soft have added further controls that begin to open up a fun, diverse fighting game. Using the triggers and shoulder buttons, the player can choose to block an attack (a parry which can be quickly followed by an attack), dodge attacks by rolling or diving, and perform massive leaps forward to cover a large amount of ground at speed. This means that you can target foes at range, pouncing on them from behind to perform a stealth kill, or attack enemies on the high-ground / across large gaps. Wolverine is definitely a close-quarter fighter so this quick method of attack is vital when against enemies with long-range weapons.
The combat is definitely the main feature of the game and is executed brilliantly. It has that fluid feel of action that God of War carried with it, but adds an element of awkward violence that Wolverine is known for as well. Basically you are brawling through waves and waves of enemies, but only occasionally does it feel stale. This is aided by the interactive environments through-out the game, including lush jungle ruins that feature wooden spikes to impale your enemies on. Picking up and throwing an enemy onto a spike is definitely rewarding, but be wary as enemies can do exactly the same thing to you forcing you to painfully wiggle yourself free.
Other areas, such as the laboratory complex that made Wolverine the man he is today, include shattering glass and explosive barrels to play around with too. The enemies youâ€™ll come across (and there are hundreds) are varied enough to keep things interesting too and include techno-ninjas with cloaking abilities (these did seem to be taken directly from F.E.A.R), machete knife maniacs, armoured troopers and native warriors who can ignite their entire body in flames. Itâ€™s a mix of ideas from the movies, with human and mutant characters appearing, but in general donâ€™t expect to see too many familiar Marvel faces.
To top off the hefty combat options, Wolverineâ€™s blinding rage attacks (known as Berserker rage) allow you to perform devastating attacks that can cover a larger area. Ploughing through goons builds up your rage meter, and when full you can execute a variety of upgradable moves like a downwards-twirling blender of doom or a furious 720 degree claw-spin that can clear a room. X-Men Origins: Wolverine also contains a much-welcomed amount of gore to match the violence too (surprising considering how the movie has a lower rating to attract a younger audience). Blood and body parts will litter the screen as you slice your way through hordes of rivals. There is even a scene where Wolverine jumps on a moving helicopter, smashes the glass of the cockpit with his fists, pulls the hapless pilot out with his claws and raises him straight into the helicopter blades - decapitating the poor chap. Itâ€™s definitely not a PG Wolverine and fans will appreciate it.
Of course, another trademark feature of Wolverine is his healing factor that allows him to recover from excessive damage to his person. This is beautifully portrayed in the gruesome opening CGI sequences, but is apparent all throughout the game as well. For example, if you get nailed by machine gun fire, Wolverineâ€™s body will be peppered with bloody holes and gaping wounds all over his body. A nearby explosive will cause ribs to be exposed, or parts of Wolvieâ€™s face to be missing. Itâ€™s a very cool bit of detail made even cooler by the fact that as you walk around, you can actually see your wounds healing before your very eyes. Of course, Wolverine isnâ€™t invulnerable. His healing factor has limits and without time to recover, he will eventually reach a point where death is imminent.
Unfortunately there are a couple of aspects to X-Men Origins: Wolverine that prevent the game from gaining a higher review score. Despite seeing the movie and being an avid X-Men fan, the story-line was still a tad confusing. This is mainly because of the disjointed manner in which a lot of the cut-scenes are placed together. The flow of the story is all there, but it jumps between scene changes like a skipping record.
The other gripe revolves around the big bad guy fights that usually accompany the end of chapters. Battles against Sabretooth, the highly-anticipated Sentinel encounter and others are disappointing to say the least. They usually involve a repeated sequence of evade, attack with the right timing and then slashing away until the enemyâ€™s health bar is depleted. And instead of an epic â€śShadow of the Colossusâ€ť style battle, with you claw-climbing your way up the back of a Sentinel, you are instead constrained to running around his feet for most of the fight.
For a movie tie-in game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a surprisingly long 13+ hour playing time. There are some token unlockables to explore on top of this, the best ones being the classic X-Men costumes (even how you win them is clever). Overall, this should be a decent rental for action fans and a worthy addition to your collection for those people who know who James Howlett is.