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X-Men Origins: Wolverine Package Art
GENRE
Action
DEVELOPER
Gryptonite Games
PUBLISHER
Activision
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

As part of the obligatory movie-to-game tie-in, Activision commissioned Gryptonite games to carve out a DS iteration of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While the end result is a passable action game, the game winds up cutting its own throat by alienating the very players who would pick it up.

visuals

The character art bears little in common with the movie. The main players are rendered in a deformed cartoon style, with angular features and slightly over-sized heads. Longtime X-Men fans will find it looks more like the Evolution teenage cartoons than any other X-Men property. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, as any real attention to detail is limited to Wolverine himself and a few choice antagonists. The rest of the bunch, including your horde of non-boss enemies (and some of the bosses, for that matter), are generic, nondescript soldiers and mutants. All of this is set against the backdrop of several drab, forgettable locations.

The game's production values vary. Combat graphics, for their part, are smooth and well-animated, especially where the main character is concerned; Wolverine leaps, dashes, and slashes with a high framerate and slick body motion. The cutscenes are, by contrast, little more than static images and text.

audio

Two words: positively forgettable. The music is predominantly guitar-driven grunge rock that fails to be engaging, much less epic. Sound effects are passable slashes and crunches (the sound of Logan’s claws extending and retracting when opening and closing the DS is a nice touch) but there isn’t much great there, either. Unless you count a death cry, voice work is nonexistent.

gameplay

Origins is a brisk 4-5 hours across five nondescript levels, all revolving around a plot that has almost nothing to do with the movie. Wolverine finds himself escaping from confinement and romping around different locations for reasons that aren’t really clear. It’s clear early on that this is a game that cares less about plot and more about throwing the character into a chain of levels to claw away at enemies.

Combat works pretty well and involves more buttons than touch. A full complement of jumping, light attacks, heavy attacks, dashing, and even blocking are at the player’s disposal, and they are all responsive and effective. Touch is employed for unlocking some secrets and for triggering a “rage” attack but is otherwise more supplementary, which is probably good considering the nature of the game’s hair-trigger action.

The game generally consists of running through levels, collecting a few items of dubious utility, unlocking some special moves, and clashing with intermittent waves of enemies. The special moves vary in quality but some are pretty cool, including the ability to attack enemies who have fallen down and a couple of nice throws and leap attacks.

Players live and die on two key bars. The first is the health bar, which -- in the spirit of Wolverine’s regenerative abilities -- replenishes slowly at all times. (There are no health packs or other restorative items; the only way to survive is to heal naturally.) The second bar is a rage meter, which gradually builds up when players attack enemies and slowly drains when the player is not in combat. When the rage meter builds up to sufficient heights, a special rage attack is triggered that allows players to deal substantial damage to all on-screen foes, as well as recoup a bit of health.

There are two difficulty modes in the game, normal and hard, although the normal is plenty hard by itself. For an E10-rated game aimed at the younger DS crowd, dying in the game is quite easy. Some of the enemies are sort of cheap and require bizarre and tricky tactics to bring down, such as the large armored enemy that has to be attacked from the air using a heavy attack. What really complicates things, though, is when Wolvie finds himself facing a horde of hard enemies that each have to be beaten in a specific, very different way. Trying, for example, to get around behind a shield enemy while also avoiding a pair of heavy armor guys with bazookas and several flying probes is nigh impossible. It doesn’t help, either, that some enemies hit pretty hard in normal mode, with some regular enemies able to fell the player in just a few hits. In short, dying happens often in this game, and although players usually respawn not too far from where they died, sometimes death sets a player back quite a ways.

There are some extras to pad out the package, but none of them feel worthwhile. The hard level is supposed to give the game replay value, but the normal mode’s difficulty will probably chase off most players anyway. There are some achievements that can be unlocked, such as combo strings and some comic book cover art, but none of it feels really substantial and few players will probably feel motivated to uncover it all.

multiplayer

n/a

overall

Insofar as action games go, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an adequate romp. The combat, in particular, is visceral and has its moments, especially with its unique rage meter. The combat graphics are smooth, especially with respect to Logan himself, and the combat controls work pretty well.

What really hurts the game though is how poorly it fits with the very audience it’s trying to please. It purports to be for fans of the movie, but neither the style nor the plot have anything whatsoever to do with the film. It also purports to be, by virtue of its tame E10 rating, a game for younger players, but the difficulty of the combat will likely overwhelm and eventually turn away those same young gamers. In the end, this game proves to be as mediocre as one might fear. If you’re a seasoned gamer looking for a short X-Men fix, this one works, but most other folks will want to take a pass.

final score 5.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
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"Round 1! Fight!"


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