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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the ultimate guilty pleasure. What it lacks in depth and innovative ideas, it makes up for with an incredibly fun combat system and a play experience that is as true-to-character as any game can get.

The absolute coolest thing about Origins is health and how it connects to the visuals. As Wolverine takes damage, it is reflected on his in-game model. Take a few bullets to the back? You'll see the damage. Deck of cards to the face courtesy of Gambit? You'll see that too. The more damage Wolverine takes, the more screwed up he gets until his insides are exposed, leaving him open to lethal damage until his healing factor kicks in. The health bar at the top of the screen gives the same info, but when you have a walking health bar, why bother staring at the HUD?

The rest of the visuals look good, but suffer from a harsh lack of variety. Every secret military base you claw through begins to look the same (a feeling that isn't helped by the amount of back-tracking you'll do in later levels) and even the lush, temple-dotted jungle gets stale the third time you see it. Levels also feel a little too convenient at times. It's cool that you can turn just about anything in the environment into a weapon, but the mechanic loses something when it is obvious that the object was placed there as a weapon. There's also a lack of consistency; sometimes you can toss enemies over the side of the building, other times you're met with an invisible barrier.

Wolverine looks and sounds exactly like Hugh Jackman, adding a sense of authenticity to the game. Of course, this also means that you can watch his face deteriorate and reform numerous times; whether you like him or not, this is a good thing. Liev Schreiber and Will.i.Am also lend their voices to the game. The performances are great, so no complaints there.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine is as authentic as a Wolverine game can get, a trait that both works for and against the gameplay. You get to experience all of Wolverine's powers including his healing factor and feral sense. At the same time, you get to experience all of Wolverine's powers, which makes him more than a match for anything the game throws at you. It's the same reason why Superman games never seem to work; Wolverine is just too powerful, so all the game can really do to try and challenge your abilities is toss legions of bodies in your way. You'll match up against a few other mutants, including Sabertooth and Gambit, but even they pose little resistance to someone who can chop through anything and heal any and all damage.

On the plus side, Origins does a great job of following the movie's plot without coming off as a retread. The story splits time between movie's plot and Wolverine's time with Team X, an element that is only briefly touched upon in the movie. Although the movie-related elements follow the same general plot as the movie, additional back-story is tossed in, like project Wideawake. Even if it doesn't add that much to the game, the added content is great for X-Men fans.

Still, it all comes back to the gameplay, which is where Origins ultimately begins to fall apart. At its core, the game is God of War with the X-gene. The focus is purely trained on action and Wolverine doing what he does best. For the most part, carving through soldiers is a blast. At the same time, if you've cut through one group of enemies, you've cut through a thousand (or, in my case 1675)... so it gets dull after a while. To its credit, the constant hack n' slash gameplay is broken up by a few puzzle areas as well as some moderate (and geeky, but funny) exploration elements. Some of the puzzles are standard "put this item here" types, but others actually incorporate Wolverine's abilities. These are the more interesting of the two types and something I wish there was more of.

The exploration elements yield a few neat surprises and are worth the time. First, and most importantly, are Mutagens - upgrades that enhance Wolverine's abilities. Finding the right Mutagens (and their subsequent upgrades) aren't vital, but can make some situations much easier. You can also search for Wolverine action figures, which unlock bonus costumes. What's cool about this is that, once you find the figures, you get to partake in Wolverine-on-Wolverine action in the Danger Room. The fights aren't too challenging, but fun.


Two difficulty levels are available from the start, but like I said earlier, authenticity gets in the way of challenge. This isn't to say that I breezed through the entire game, but most "end" screens were either due to a technical snafu or misjudging a jump.

To compensate for enemies' lack of mutant powers, the game opts to overload you with swarms of enemies. They aren't bright, but offer enough of a challenge that you'll need to think through encounters. Low-rank soldiers are claw fodder, but higher-grade enemies like multi-arm assassins and shield-bearing super soldiers are tough nuts to crack, even with adamantium claws. Button-mashing will get you through most encounters, but some require a bit of timing and a combo or two.

Aside from bosses, which have an annoying tendency to last longer than they should, the most challenge you'll see from an enemy are larger foes like the W.E.N.D.I.G.O. or Sentinel prototype. These guys are considerably larger than your average opponent and usually require lots of patience and well-timed lunge attacks to down. Combat is cool when you're slicing through people, but when it comes to larger enemies, jumping on their back and slowing nicking away at their health is tiresome. On top of that, the camera likes to focus on the enemies, making escape and lunge timing difficult.

Game Mechanics:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine offers a simple, yet flexible control scheme. You've got light and heavy attacks as well as a block and jump. Simple attacks combine to offer some incredible savage combos that will let you clear out a room full of enemies in a matter of bloody minutes. If enemies are too far away, Wolverine can also pull off a lunge attack that will send him flying across the room, crashing down on an enemy. If that's not your style, you can grab an enemy and, if you time it right, pull off an incredibly violent "Quick Kill" move. Words can't describe him insane these moves get. Some are as simple as a claw to the face while others involve forcing an enemy's shotgun under his chin and pulling the trigger. Saying Origins is bloody is an understatement; it is easily one of the bloodiest games I've played in a while. Origins works hard to earn its "M"-rating. There's are no issues with language or nudity, but arms, legs and other body parts pop off with relative ease and are always accompanied by streams of blood.

As you rip through enemies, you earn tokens to spend on upgrading Wolverine's claws and health. You'll also unlock special movies, like a Claw Drill and Berserk mode. These are simple, one-hit, massive damage moves, but are handy when you're overwhelmed or trying to quickly off a bigger foe. Using these moves is completely optional; you can easily go through the entire game with the basic attacks and make a mess.

Again, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a guilty pleasure and not much else. The gameplay is simple and repetitive after a few levels, but that isn't enough to distract from what is a brutally fun time.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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