James Howlett aka Logan aka Wolverine is on a mission in Africa with Team X run by William Stryker. This is where X-Men Origins: Wolverine the video game begins and revisits time and time again. Setting and gore are the two things that set this movie based video game far from its movie counter-part. Blood flows and oil spills as we take Wolverine for another journey into video game land to do what Wolverine does best..
A scant few cut scenes are the glue that holds this video game to the plot of the movie. In just a few short minutes the entire plot of the movie is revealed which you can guess means that the rest is just filler to go along with the cheesy story that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Starting in Africa we go to Canada, then back to Africa, then back to Canada, then to the western US, then Louisiana, then to 3 Mile Island. I feel like I should have quite a few frequent flier miles racked up or I would if Wolverine could actually get past airport security. To sum up the story is a discombobulated mess and with plenty of plot twists thrown in that had me saying the same thing I asked over and over while watching the movie “Why?”
Each location is an exaggeration of what they would look like in real life. This means that Canada is filled with an overabundance of secret military bases,forests,and maple syrup plants (OK, maybe not the last one), Louisiana has massive casinos and apparently no police, Africa has more ruins of temples dedicated to alien/demon looking things than you can shake a fist at and 3 Mile Island is...well... a 3 Mile Island. The levels feel designed and even though the locations look real enough they don't feel natural. One thing that characterizes each location is that most building material is harder than adamantium. Wolvie's claws barely make a scratch in most walls and objects. What I wouldn't give to be able to actually cut through any door I see while playing a video game as Wolverine. Not being able to tear entire environments to shreds has pissed me off since X-Men Legends.
Wolverine's claws are not entirely useless. Even when all he has are bone fragments jutting out from his fists Wolverine is quite capable of using his famous talents to gut, dismember, and disembowel, and even behead, anyone who gets in his way. This may sound pretty gruesome, and it is, but it is gruesome on an action movie level, not a horror movie level. Even with body parts flying and blood splattering you won't see intestines lying on the floor or brain matter splattered on the walls. The Unreal Engine 3 technology was really taking advantage in creating Wolverine's character model and healing factor as a sometimes skeletal wolverine back into a full fleshed character model. Despite this visual representation of Wolverine's health there is a still a health bar on the HUD taking the guess work out of how much more damage you can take but producing a feeling of playing a video game instead of a cinematic experience. Speaking of the cinematic experiences there are quick time button pressing events that surprisingly enough are some of the funniest parts of the game. Player control is incredibly important in during these moments and best of all failure to execute a button press doesn't mean a game over just a small set back in making progress in whatever task you’re trying to accomplish at the moment.
Combat is standard hack n' slash fair with a heavy attack, light attack, grapple, and jump buttons. Two unique elements are the special moves like the drill attack or whirlwind attack that put Wolvie into a devastating animation of spinning blood and gore while he pulls Tasmanian Devil like moves with his claws ripping enemies to shreds. These are activated with a combination of the right trigger and the face buttons which was like a simplified version of the special moves found in the Ultimate Alliance and X-men Legends games. One other special move called the lunge attack will have Wolvie flying through the air at a targeted foe landing on them claws first and opening up the option to finish them off quickly with another lunge to the jugular, quick jabs to the face, or flinging them across the area with a simple press of a button. Pulling of lunge moves can be awkward because enemy has to be more than a few feet away and the auto lock on that is used to target enemies can be unwieldy when facing multiple opponents some who can be lunge attacked and some who can't. The absolutely most deadly way to dispatch enemies is the performance of a quick kill which requires that the enemy is in a grapple and the correct timing of two additional button presses to perform the gruesome animations that have heads flying and torsos being torn apart. All in all the combat is bloody and gruesome which makes for a very satisfying Wolverine experience..
The action is definitely the star of the show with elements like the voice acting, combat sounds, character models, and level design seem to get in the way. The voice acting isn't bad per say but the script is horrible. Music in the game is generic rock that is forgettable and doesn't add much to the intensity of the battles on screen. Hearing the same scream over and over again with very little variation while cutting through enemies kills the early thrills of performing killing moves. The level design is the worst offender giving the player the task of solving simple puzzles before they could proceed which slowed down the action to a halt while I pushed and pulled boxes and climbed up and down ropes. I guess it was actually a pretty clever trick by the development team though because after spending ten minutes figuring out a puzzle I really wanted to tear something in half.
Bottom line for X-Men Origins Wolverine the video game is that it is worth playing but not worth the full price of admission. Rent it, download, the demo, or borrow it from a friend but don't spend full price on this game unless you are a collector or you have the extra cash lying around. I got through the single player game in two sittings. More than once someone would watch me play and ask “Have you played this before?” Despite some bad story telling (not the games fault) and schizophrenic progression (definitely the games fault) there are some really fun moments while playing this game but you can beat it within your five day game rental from Blockbuster. I know I would just so I could punch the likeness of the actor that played Victor Creed. Worst Sabertooth ever.
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