This years first major summer blockbuster may only just have made it onto the big screen, but it’s not taken too long for the gaming world to have its own representation of the genesis of Wolverine.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a truly action-packed title. Enemies flood towards you at specified points at the kind of rapid rate you’d expect football fans to head out of boozers at ten to three. And Logan certainly isn’t too reluctant to slice off limbs, heads, and keep the blood flowing free.
With one button initiating heavy attacks, another for quicker lighter flails, and one to prompt throws, the fighting system shares a lot with the likes of the Ninja Gaiden series. What starts as seemingly a mere button masher eventually becomes a quite depth filled collection of complicated combinations and manners in which to slaughter your prey.
Logan is more than happy to utilise the environment around him too. Levels are strewn with areas where you can bash enemies onto huge spikes, into spinning industrial fans, and even plummeting to oblivion. And the more interesting way in which you kill, the higher your experience levels head, allowing you to unlock new combos and moves, as well as get your basic stats made even healthier.
This blend of simplicity keeps things fast and frantic, and a whole heap of fun with the bog standard enemies. Though you will start to lean a little too heavily on certain combos that guarantee a swift kill, there’s no denying that things are certainly towards the better end on the fun scale. Sadly, things drop a touch as the game progresses.
The first boss battle is easy enough. You’ll use your swift dash to avoid your hulking enemy's attacks, before jumping on their back and hacking away at their health bar. Do that five or six times and down they go. The only problem is, boss battles don’t truly vary from that initial bout. Not only is the way to win exactly the same, the boss skins are identical. And hence, each becomes a test of how easily you can perform the same few button presses all over again without nodding off. It takes a good 4 hours of game time before the game finally decides to spice things up by chucking multiple of these behemoths towards you at once.
Similarly, the few puzzles lean towards just one of two variants. You’ll either wind a crank and be forced to hide behind moving cover/make a few jumps before the opening closes. Or you’ll carry a huge object to its nearby destination in order to open up the next area. Not exactly the kind of depth that we’d hope for.
Then there’s the much talked about aesthetics. While the idea behind Wolverine’s constant healing and true to attack body marks is a fantastic one, the sad fact is that the action is so fast, and with the camera needing to be quite a way away from Logan's back, that you’ll only really notice things during the few seconds of quiet time. It’s a shame as this is one good looking - if not visually astounding - title.
What’s a little stranger is the weirdness of the frame rate. While the action can be incredibly brutal, and numerous enemies can appear on screen without even a flicker, all of the sudden the game can stutter to a crawl with just two of you. It’s incredibly odd, and smacks of a game that has been rushed to the production line to tie-in with the movie's release. It’s an odd situation, particularly as the development team have gone to great lengths to maintain that they’ve had ample time to craft this one up to perfection.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a real shame. While the battling system hurtles at such a rapid pace that you can’t fail to have fun, the sheer unfinished nature and overly repeated sections drag the fun factor right down.
If the boss battles had a little more variety during the first 6 hours of play, then this one could have been whole heartedly recommended. Instead it’s yet another movie tie-in that’s just a touch above bearable.