Completed Games: X-men Origins Wolverine
Developer – Raven Software
Publisher – Activision
Release Date – 1st May 2009
First of all the cover of the game is terrible, very few games use real life images well and Activision really screwed up the marketing for the game. Yes it is a game based off a movie and was released the same day as the movie but it was developed by Raven Software. While it’s not as polished as other Raven Software games it is has a solid action core and shows the origins of wolverine better than in the movie. Instead of marketing solely to the movie audience Activision should have appeal to the general gaming audience. They didn’t even put Raven Software’s logo on the cover. The game sold around 500k each on Ps3 and Xbox 360 but could have done much better with the popularity of similar games such as God of War and Devil May Cry.
Ok enough about the marketing of the game, I really want to tell you about how good the game actually is. The game starts off with an awesome cut scene that is completely bloody and violent unlike the PG rated movie. Wolverine is the perfect sort of character for a video game; he can regenerate from any physical damage, has feral senses, has the movement of an animal (jumping, lunging) and of course the claws. The game takes advantage of all these aspects of the character and doesn’t need to make anything unnecessary up. Wolverine will dismember limbs of his enemies and take them down in all sorts of brutal ways. For example early in the game you lunge on to a helicopter, smash through the window, pull the enemy out and takes his head off with the helicopter blades.
The combat is standard character action with combos, counters, and special attacks with a few cool additions. Crucial to the combat is a lunge attack with is a genius move because it allows you to quickly jump from enemy to enemy. Lunging makes the game more frenetic increasing the pace of the combat. Combined with a fairly diverse variety of enemies the gameplay didn’t get tedious during the game (around 8 hours). Taking cue from the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series Raven has some RPG like elements with upgrades for Wolverine in terms of skills, mutagen (i.e. health modifiers, damage) and reflexes (bonuses from killing a lot of certain types of enemies).
While playing the game I was surprised at how much it had in common with Batman Arkham Asylum (released later in 2009). They both had solid close combat systems, stealth sections, a guide filter (feral/detective mode), and a boss type that comes up all the time (Wendigo/Bane prototypes). The difference was that Batman AA was much more polished since it was not tied to a strict deadline and had a more interesting story suitable for how games are structured.
The main problem of the game are the cool but frustrating boss fights which are not only hard but are full of glitches and flawed design. Maybe an incremental checkpoint system could have been used as you pass the different stages of a boss fight. In the fight against Gambit and Deadpool I constantly died because I inadvertently fell off the stage which shouldn’t happen in games anymore.
The game is heavily discounted and at the low price is it definitely worth picking up (I picked it up for $12 AUD). Raven Software recently released their first original game in years with Singularity so support them by buying it as well (Activision hasn’t put any marketing muscle behind it, and it doesn’t look good for Raven Software).