Hello all! Last week’s game was a first person brawler that had great ideas, but they’re all pretty much kicked out immediately.
Today brings us to a game based on a somewhat crummy movie. Despite licensed games generally being crap, this is one of the few to not only be good, but it actually surpasses the material it’s based on. Then again, maybe that’s a low bar to hop.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the clunky title to the Official Game of the Movie that was...X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It was developed by Raven Software, who made some pretty cool stuff, and they’ve been featured here before with another Marvel title. Here, you play as, of course, Wolverine, following the events of the movie. To be fair, you also play a bunch of stuff that happened before the movie. There’s a surprising amount of story here, and some of it is inspired by the comics; none of it’s really great, but it’s servicable; it gets you going, which is the most important thing here. (Note that it follows the movie later on, so you have to fight *ahem* “Deadpool” at the end)
Wolverine plays more or less like God of War or Devil May Cry or whatever. You press buttons and Wolverine slashes with his claws, and you mix up light and heavy attacks to perform combos. Sometimes you grab enemies, you fight bosses, and engage in the odd QTE. Nothing the game does from a functional standpoint is all that unique or innovative...
...but it’s the whole aesthetic that sells it. Wolverine is notably rated M, and it uses this to it’s full, bloody advantage. Wolverine’s/Logan’s/Ol’ Scratchy’s claws slice and dismember your enemies in this game. It’s the first time in gaming you get to use Wolverine’s claws to do some serious damage. It’s all incredibly brutal and satisfying, if you’re in the mood and can stomach it. The game does a great job of making you feel like Wolverine—you’re fast and powerful, and nearly unstoppable.
You’ve also got a fantastic portrayal of Wolverine’s healing factor, something that past games struggle with. Getting shot up damages you and lowers a health meter, while taking too much damage at once lowers a secondary meter taking the form of Wolverine’s heart. Think Halo 1's shield/health system and you’ve got an idea of how XMO:W works. What’s even cooler is, damage appears on Wolverine and heals up, just like in the movies. It’s very cool.
I was all set to tell you all about how Wolverine shows us that a licensed game can do right by the characters, story, etc. It’s true that Wolverine surpasses the movie it’s based on, but that isn’t that hard, really (to clarify: I don’t think X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the worst thing in the world, but it’s certainly not great, and it’s the weakest X-Men film by far—and yes, I’ve seen The Last Stand).
But licensed games are tricky. When your game is called Spider-Man 2 or Batman Begins or what have you, certain people expect to play through the movie they saw and enjoyed. That’s business, after all; it’s a crappy part of the business, but that’s just the way things are. Or were; licensed games don’t seem to happen much these days, except in the mobile market. Wolverine is a riot of a game, but that’s mostly because Raven seems to have largely ignored the film and did what they wanted to do with a Wolverine video game. You have to follow the film plot here, but it’s barely there, intercut with scenes in jungles where you fight creatures. You might recognize this as the opposite of the Wolverine movie.
The end result, really, is a fun game that’s hampered by being attached to something not a lot of people liked. That’s too bad; the game does right by Wolverine, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best Wolverine game by a wide margin. Although, I thought X2: Wolverine’s Revenge for PS2 wasn’t that bad. But if you skipped Origins: Wolverine because you hated the movie, give it a go. Never before have gamers felt like Wolverine, and based on the current state of X-Men games, they probably never will again.
Oh, and again, basically every other Wolverine game is beyond awful, so take what you can get.
Next week, I’m kinda venturing out of my usual territory here...but let’s talk about the best skateboarding game around.