Fantastic Four

Review

posted 7/19/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
One Page Platforms: PC
Once you get past the things that should’ve been modified for a PC release, this game isn’t half bad. Sure, it’s a beat-em-up, but it’s a fun romp through a number of varying locales, punching the crap out of practically everything. Each character’s powers are decently represented, with a slowly regenerating power bar limiting the use of the more powerful attacks. Each character has unique “cosmic” moves that drain power, but the Thing and Reed feel the most balanced to me. Reed’s stretchy moves have the most accuracy, and his cosmic abilities deal the most punch. The Thing is appropriately a one man wave of destruction, but he’s rather slow and takes timing to use properly.

Sue Storm’s invisibility can be switched on and off at will, but rarely comes in handy as this is definitely NOT a stealth game. Her force field attacks and telekinesis look very slick, but just aren’t all that effective.

Torch is the biggest let down. His fireballs are surprisingly weak, and his more destructive cosmic attacks drain a lot of power. In the movie the Human Torch can soar to the top of a skyscraper, but in the game he only hovers about a foot off the ground the whole time. This makes him disappointing and rather flaky to control at the same time. Due to his unique mode of locomotion, the camera is particularly problematic with the Torch.

This game really shines when all four heroes are going at it at once. An interesting feature is the ability to cycle between characters at will; you control one character, while the computer takes care of the rest. It works surprisingly well and makes the boss fights refreshing. However, this allows for a cheap out during combat. When controlled by AI, the characters become invincible, so if you’re low on health with, say Johnny, you can just swap over to the Thing to keep from being killed.

The game’s innovative cooperative mode fixes this problem a little, letting two people assume the role of hero and thus putting less work on the computer. It’s a decently entertaining mode, but it’s no Splinter Cell.

Most of the time you’ll be using only one or two characters. Special context-sensitive moves are displayed by glowing “4” icons on the ground, and interacting with these icons begins special micro-games such as putting out a fire or throwing a huge vehicle. It’s an interesting, if somewhat flat way to demonstrate some of the more amazing powers without actually making the player pull off the feats on their own. The boss battles entail a great number of these events, to keep you on your toes.

Speaking of bosses, the film’s Dr. Doom isn’t the only villain you’ll be fighting. While the game does a good job of following the movie’s basic story, it also injects mini-campaigns against bad guys from the comic book, like Mole Man and Diablo. This gives the game some more staying power and adds much needed flavor.

When looking at the bare technical specs, this title’s is no slouch. It won’t blow your doors off, but the graphics are impressive and the characters all animate fluidly. There are some nice particle effects and the super powers are well done, save for the rather bland invisibility texturing. The voice work is believable, if a little on the drab side, though none of it is the official talent from the movie. Music is surprisingly good; it isn’t dynamic, but it typically fits the mood and character.
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