X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Even back in the days of the NES, movie-based video-games have been a rather sad affair that always end in rushed, crappy titles gaining sales due to the popularity of the franchises they represent. Needless to say there are a handful of exceptions to this rule, and thankfully Raven Studios effort in Wolverine is one of those exceptions.

X-Men origins takes the events of the movie, adds in some crucial backstory that really fleshes out Logan’s journey, and chronicles the death, destruction and violence unleashed on his one man revenge mission from hell. The story is simple, has no revelations to behold, but then again neither did the movie.

While the story is lacking majorly X-Men is definitely ahead of the pack when it comes to brutality and stylized combat combos. Previous iterations of the Wolverine character have unleashed him with little more than kitty sized nails, but this time you will literally be tearing your enemies in two with help from your claws. Raven Software who have been known to boost up the violence in their games (RE: Soldier of Fortune) have no shortage of the claret in this adventure. Forget about MadWorld, Wolverine offers you one of the most graphically violent games on Australian gaming shelves, how it passed the OFLC is beyond me, but that’s another story.

Roll into a group of bad guys and within a few buttons you will have ripped off one guys arm, gutted another, slammed one into a wall and beheaded another foe all before you’ve had time to notice there was an alternate path to sneak around. The combos are brutal, effective, and are so stylish and exciting they never seem to get old. Back this up with a number of “Rage” moves that can be accessed when your Rage meter is full and you have one of the most impressive set of combos to hit a console…well, ever.

The controls are simplistic, Wolverine is armed with a light attack, heavy attack, block and of course the ever important jump button. There are combos that can be learned, but in all honesty, you won’t need to put in the time or effort, alternating between heavy and light you will still be lopping off arms, legs, and torsos in a stylistic fashion. These are complimented with the RAGE moves which offer some special attacks like the claw spin. They look good and are handy for dispatching enemies when surrounded but they aren’t necessary to complete the game.

The lunge move is going to become one of your most depended on functions in the game. Target an enemy at a long distance, hit the lunge button and you will fly through the air and land on top of them. For the lower levels this will often end in an instant kill, but as you move through the game it can become a crucial attack for taking out harder enemies efficiently. You also tend to rely on it to move around the environment, and if used properly the lunge can be used to strategically take out your foes.

Regardless of how brutal and impressive Wolverine’s combos look and feel, nothing can compare to the quick kills that are presented in such a gory display of beauty. With the press of a button, you simply grab your enemies and lift them into the air. The light glints off your claws of fury, and all of a sudden spines, guts, scrotums and heads are missing. It’s one of those experiences that reading about just doesn’t convey the impact that is felt the first few times. If you can handle the violence, it’s truly a work of art.

Regenerative health has become a staple in the gaming industry lately with shooters taking full advantage of it this generation, but unlike those games, it’s warranted as Wolverine actually does have regenerative powers. You are presented with two health bars, one that represents Wolverine’s exterior. When that health bar is drained the second health bar represents Wolverine’s vital organs. Once this bar is drained its game over my friend.

So if all this violence is fantastic, all the combat is fantastic, what is exactly wrong with Origins? It simply shows off too much flash from the start and never really evolves into anything. You encounter the same enemies countless amount of times, it lacks variety and lacks depth. That’s not to say it’s not a hell of a lot of fun, but it certainly isn’t a groundbreaking title.

How does Wolverine stack up graphically? Utilizing the Unreal 3 engine that such titles as Gears of War have pushed to the limit, Wolverine is utterly amazing in some aspects, and downright disappointing in others. The cutscenes are absolutely stunning, perfectly rendered and at some points you’ll swear Jackman is there on the screen. Crucial characters such as Logan, Sabertooth, Stryker all look fantastic, yet enemies are simply lacking. You never get a real good look at them, and when you do they aren’t exactly up to scratch when compared to some of the other character models. Same goes for the environments, they just are just there. They don’t stand out, they don’t serve as a purpose for the action, they are just present in the background and don’t really add anything to the experience at all.

It’s the little details that do happen to stand out in the graphics department. Wolverine’s skin will tear and begin to bleed as he sustains damage, it’s a neat little effect that really adds to the experience. There will be countless times you will blow up some barrels standing right next to them to watch the great effects as Wolverine slowly heals back to perfect skin. Unfortunately, this attention to details hasn’t been paid to other aspects of the game where it could have been used.

Jackman provides authentic Wolverine grunts and quips, but enemies make little to no sounds. The soundtrack is not important and just sort of hovers along with the game, you could easily turn it off and bust out some of your favourite tunes to replace it. The audio is a rather lackluster affair.

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