Every review of a movie tie in game starts by mentioning how movie tie in games are never any good and that you should lower your expectations before considering the title. I’m not going to do that for this review because Raven is the developer behind the title and they’ve got a pretty solid track record.
I’ll also caveat the review with the fact that I haven’t seen the film. I’ve seen a few movie spoilers and listened to John bitch and moan about how the game strays from the traditional Wolverine canon and what they did to Deadpool but I haven’t actually seen the flick yet. I don’t think this disqualifies me from reviewing the game though as it should be a separate entity from the film and you shouldn’t need to see a movie game to play the game.
The game has you playing Wolverine who really needs to introduction. Wolverine is one of the most iconic comic book characters over the last decade or two. He’s my favorite Marvel character and in my second favorite comic book hero behind Batman. I can’t say that I was looking forward to playing the game as Activision’s last outing with Logan was a mess of poor pacing, bad controls ,and bad game play decisions. This time around I’m happy to say that Activision got a lot of things right although the game falls just short of being something I’d recommend for purchase.
As an origin story you get to see where Wolverine came from and why he does what he does but the game does delve too far into that. Sure there's a lot of his dealing with his brother Sabretooth, the government betraying him, how he got the adamantium skeleton, and the loss of a loved one but the game deals in a lot of blacks in whites for a character that is mostly grey. The game (and I'm guessing the movie as well) portray Wolverine as a hero whereas the character we've gotten to know over time isn't exactly a boy scout. I can find some of the reasoning behind this because the game is tied to a Hollywood movie but I do wish Raven had branched out a bit more and fleshed the character out a bit more.
The gameplay is very reminiscent of the God of War series. I’m not saying the game is a rip-off of the Sony franchise but I started calling the game Wolverine of War about 20 minutes into the game. Both games have unlockable powers that you can level up by killing enemies and both have you killing legions of bad guys. There are the forced quick time events but Wolverine thankfully doesn’t rely on them as much as God of War does. There are some differences but if you wanted to know what a next generation version of God of War looks like, Wolverine is a good glimpse into what we can expect.
The game does have a inspired sections though. The game is mostly done in the standard third person view behind Wolverine but there is one level where he’s being targeted by a sniper and the view shifts to that of the gun scope. This forces you to keep moving so the sniper can’t get a bead on him. It’s not a lot but the execution is well done as you have to keep Logan moving to avoid getting shot. The game does do the “We take away the cool power that make the character unique” trick which annoyed me to no end but that part of the game was thankfully short.
The game does offer a wide variety of ways to kill people and while the movie only had a PG -13 rating the game earns its M rating due to the variety of ways you can dispatch them. One of the appeals of Wolverine is the adamantium claws which allow him to cut through nearly anything. This has repercussions as Wolverine has to get close to anyone to kill them. To overcome this Wolverine can leap large distances with his new lunge ability. You can chain the lunges together to quickly take out large numbers of enemies. Combine that with the powerups you earn over time and the game is a lot of hack and slash fun.
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