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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Griptonite Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (2D)

Graphics & Sound:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a game of perspective. If you're in the market for a kid-friendly, movie tie-in for the latest X-Men movie, you're out of luck. However, if you're looking for a challenging 2D side-scroller, you're in for a flawed but fun ride.

Origins splits from the console version's realistic visuals for something that would look more at home in a kid's play set than a big budget action movie. This isn't a bad thing at all. Granted, you don't get Hugh Jackman's mug grinning back at you, but you do get a Wolverine who is much closer to the short, feral version found in the comics. It won't please Jackman fans, but it's a pretty even trade in my mind. The DS isn't known for mind-blowing 3D, but Griptonite Games (the team behind Web of Shadows) managed to squeeze a lot out of the system.

The downside to the more "cartoon-y" visual style is that it makes the game look more kid-friendly than it really is. Origins is an incredibly hard game that will test just about any player's patience. With older players, namely hardcore platformer fans, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Younger players, on the other hand, may find the game too overwhelming. It's a simple matter of the cover not matching the content. I wouldn't go so far as to advocate a graphical overhaul - I mostly liked what I saw - but considering how many parents purchase games based off screenshots, it may be misleading and lead to a screaming kid in the near future.

Sound is sort of just there. You've got a few claw sounds, machine gun fire... nothing extraordinary, but it does what it needs to do. Music is mostly forgettable, but at least offers some sort of driving noise in the background.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine offers a quick trip through the movie's plotline. Most of the backstory is told through a series of still character images and text with the game picking up directly after Logan's escape from the Alkali Lake facility. From there, the game is a fast-paced action brawler. Tid-bits of story pop up every few levels, but for the most part, you're just clawing your way through locations.

Missions are straightforward and feature basic objectives that mostly center on Wolverine destroying a lot of things with his claws. Levels are linear, but offer some venues for exploration. Enter a room, fight a bunch of enemies and repeat. The pattern is repetitive and, thanks to a monstrous difficulty level, more trouble than it's worth sometime. Again, this is something that will appeal to players who are looking for an incredibly challenging experience. There's something to be said about the simple setup that, oddly enough, becomes enjoyable the more you play. There were times where I felt like I was back playing on my NES, which was sort of refreshing considering the challenge-less, check-point laden games I've been playing for the last few years. Still, as much as I enjoyed the nostalgia, the feeling didn't last long and after my fourth time playing through the second enemy encounter in the second level, I began to appreciate the occasional check-point.

The non-stop action is broken up by minor exploration elements. The linear path sometimes deviates slightly, offering a chance to acquire hidden dog tags (which only seem to count towards a level grade) or new moves. Sniffing out new moves is one of the few times the touch screen comes into play. When Wolverine is in the vicinity of a special move, two pieces of the X-Men logo appear on the bottom screen. Tapping the two icons when they overlap unlocks the move. It's an interesting mechanic, but one that ultimately feels pointless. I see where the developers are going with the concept, but it doesn't work. Maybe if it were to show an alternate view of the area (similar to the console's "Feral View") or offer a hint that something was in the area. Ultimately, it feels like something that was included just because the touch screen "had to" be used.


Unlike the console versions, which built an entire play mechanic around Wolverine's healing factor, the DS version acknowledges it in passing, but doesn't do too much with it. Wolverine heals damage when out of combat, though the rate of return on health is insignificant when compared the amount of damage he'll take in any one battle. One of the few gameplay elements that manages to find its way to the DS is the insane number of enemies you'll have to fight in any one, claustrophobic area. You'll rarely go one-on-one with an enemy, and the few times you do it is usually just an introductory fight followed immediately by multiple versions of the same enemy. Things get hairy fast and it doesn't take many hits before you're rocketed back to the beginning of the level. I'm no expert at games, but when the first enemy encounter is enough to make me slam my DS shut, there's an issue.

At times I found the extreme challenge enjoyable; others I hated it. With only a Normal (which I played most of the game on) and Hard difficulty level, there's no real stomping ground for players who just want to slice things up as Wolverine. The game gets easier as you accumulate moves, but this is like saying walking though a burning shed isn't bad after walking through an industrial blast furnace. The shed's flames may not hurt as much, but you're still burned.

Game Mechanics:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine makes an attempt to mask the difficulty with its combat system, particularly with the ability to block, but it is a futile gesture. One hit from an enemy is usually enough to knock Wolverine's health down by at least a third and it is incredibly hard to deal damage back to enemies. The damage taken-to-damage output ratio is really off. Add to that flying and shield-toting enemies and you've got one tough combat situation. New attacks make it easier to clear out enemies, though only when they work correctly. The controls aren't that responsive, even when trying to do a simple charged attack.

As Wolverine kills enemies, he fills a "Rage" meter. Once filled, Wolverine enters Berserk mode, brining the game's second touch-based mechanic into play. While in Berserk mode, slashing the touch screen deals damage on enemies on the top screen. Using the stylus produced better results, but holding the stylus and using the face buttons is a tricky task. When taken in combo with the healing factor, Berserk mode opens up a neat risk/ reward mechanic. Pushing the attack runs up Rage, but increases you chances of taking damage. Hanging back offers a chance to heal, but not attacking causes Rage to drop. The math of the situation causes everything to fall apart. Enemies do too much damage compared to what the healing factor gives back. Additionally, neither works with the amount of Rage earned for attacking. If the numbers worked out better, Origins would be a better game than it is.

Players who found Mega Man 9 (or any of the Mega Man games) a blast will more than likely flip for Origins. Unfortunately, the license and visuals suggest a much different game, which will throw some players off. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is for anyone looking for a major challenge; all others should stay away.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Sony PlayStation 3 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Windows X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated