X-Men Origins: Wolverine will give you new insight into how much damage indestructible, razor-sharp claws can do to a human body. This is a game that revels in gore, with decapitations, evisceration, and mutilations drenching the screen in blood. Oddly enough the movie has been rated ‘12’. Go figure. It may be derivative, a cakewalk, and at times buggy, but the sheer visceral impact of the over-the-top violence in X-Men Origins is enough to make it a fun action game, as well as one of the better movie tie-ins released recently.
If we started the game not really knowing what to expect, the opening sequence does a great job of setting the tone. After a helicopter you and the team are travelling in is shot down, Logan is sent into a freefall to the jungle environment below. You’re in complete control here, eventually slamming with great force into an unsuspecting soldier – who understandably is squashed into a Wolverine-sized crater. It’s a brilliant set-piece that gets you in the right frame of mind from the off.
From here on in it’s ultra violent melee combat almost all the way through, with just a little bit of adventure-like puzzling and platforming thrown in from time to time. The puzzles and platforming are extremely light on difficulty, book-ending lengthy bouts of full-body mutilation. Thanks to what the game calls Feral Vision you’re never really going to get stuck either; a simple flick over to that vision mode reveals more or less exactly where you need to go and what objects can be interacted with.
There’s also a fair amount of defensive play required if you’re going to succeed. Counters are handled as you might expect, with a block timed just as an enemy is about to strike giving you a window to hit them back without reply – later enemies even try to counter Logan’s attacks. The dodge and dash moves also come in extremely handy, getting you out of tight spots and making it relatively easy to evade charging monstrosities.
During the initial parts of the game you’ll find yourself stuck with some basic moves and you’ll also begin to wonder what else the level ups do…but as with most marvel related games; referring to Spiderman Web of Shadows, the further you go, the cooler your moves and powers get.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is easy; you’ll likely finish its five chapters in fewer than 10 hours. There’s no multiplayer here, and most of the replay value is in finding hidden alternate costumes throughout the levels, as well as an unlockable hard difficulty. There are only a few extra costumes (such as Wolverine’s classic brown spandex), but once unlocked, they can be used while you play through levels to replace the boring “faded jeans and white shirt” look that serves as Wolverine’s default.
The game’s environments–particularly its indoor ones–are plain-looking; the various corridors and laboratories lacking real distinctiveness. Characters fare a little better, sporting good animations if lacking a little in the detail and sharpness departments. The model of Wolverine himself is the standout and features an interesting structure that shows off real-time damage. Get hit, and the damaged areas will show the exposed muscle underneath. Keep on getting pummeled and you’ll even see the character’s skeletal structure exposed, to be gradually replaced by muscle and skin as Wolverine heals. This sounds better than it looks–most of the time, this real-time damage lacks clear definition, looking more like random red splotches on Wolverine’s clothes than serious injuries. Performance was rock steady, with a mostly solid 60 FPS even at high resolutions (and the game supports resolutions up to 1920×1200). Heck it even ran on our AMD X2 4800 with an 8600gt card!!(I’m so surprised that this card has still got it) As for sound, the highlight again is Wolverine, with movie star Hugh Jackman lending his voice to the character. However, other environmental effects are inconsistent. Most of the time, the various slashing, gunshots, and explosions in the game sound appropriately meaty, but there are some occasions when onscreen actions seem to lack the accompanying sound altogether.
Although X-Men Origins: Wolverine does sport some clear technical deficiencies, it’s never enough to fully distract you from what it is at its core: a solid if unspectacular game that, for once, takes those metal claws of Wolverine seriously. This is a game that’s at its best when it’s brutal, and though it lacks any real depth, it’s fun while it lasts.