The lights are on
It’s no mystery that licensed video games have gotten a bad rap over the years. There have been a few games that have not lived up to the stereotype of licensed games being bad (such as Spider-Man 2, The Punisher, KOTOR, etc) but it always seems like these games are often overshadowed by games “products” that are rushed out the door to tie into a movie. So what happens when you base a game on something that’s based on a movie that’s based on a comic book character? A pretty *** fun time, that’s what.
You start out with a basic set of moves that can be leveled up as you go along by gaining experience for every kill you make. After you gather a certain amount of experience and level your character up, you are awarded skill points that allow you to make Wolverine even more powerful. This is something that Raven Software has obviously borrowed from their previous games (X-Men Legends 1 & 2, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance) and it’s certainly welcome.
This is one of the few times that blood and gore will genuinely enhance your enjoyment of a game. Wolverine has been in plenty of crappy games in his day, none of which did justice to the brutality and violent rage the character possesses. It never did make sense to me why a character that is based around having razor sharp claws and a violent disposition couldn’t have a game that reflected that. Bravo to both Marvel and Raven Software for making an M-rated Wolverine game happen. With that said, as Wolverine you will decapitate people, dismember them all the while making them shed copious amounts of blood (in style of course). He will take real time damage with bullet holes damaging his clothes and you will even see muscle and bone exposed due to explosions (he’ll even heal back up in real time which makes for a cool effect).
Seeing such an iconic character doing all of these things is a trip because it really taps into every comic book nerd’s boy hood fantasy of seeing Wolverine completely flip out an dismember everyone in the room. It all works in the game’s favor from all the brutal looking quick kills, to going into berserker rage and tearing into enemies. This game does a great job of empowering the player and making you feel like a complete bad ass .
The reason why all of this blood and gore works without it all falling flat or seeming completely superfluous is because Raven Software actually developed a solid game around it. Although the game is strongly based around gameplay found in the God of War series and other games like it, it adds enough elements of its own to make it stand out. I think the most important of which is the lunge maneuver. One problem I’ve always had with action games of this type is that you’ll be locked into combat with three or four enemies, while two or three other enemies are off screen shooting at you (I’m giving you the stink eye Ninja Gaiden). This makes for a cheap and frustrating experience that artificially increases the difficulty.
Well now you have a move in your arsenal that can combat against this cheap tactic. By locking on and hitting the lunge button, Wolverine will jump towards an enemy and pounce on them, giving you the advantage. It sounds minor, but this move really added a lot to the gameplay in my opinion and made it more fun. Not only is it a good offensive/deffensive move, but it also keeps the action flowing at a brisk pace since it decreases the amount of combat moments where you are running after an enemy to kill them.
Outside of the blood and gore, another thing that surprised me about this game is the Tomb Raider like elements that were included. I will admit that the Tomb Raider-style areas aren’t as strong as the rest of the gameplay and most of the environmental puzzles are sort of mindless. Personally, I didn’t mind these parts because I enjoy the Tomb Raider series . They did an admirable job of breaking things up and keeping things fresh. Speaking of which, the game does a good job of keeping things fresh by having you play between two time periods at the same time throughout the game. So essentially you are playing through a huge jungle level while you are playing in other locales in a different period of time within the story all at the same time. Just when you felt you were getting bored of the level you were in, the game switches back to another locale. I don’t recall another game doing that before but it was something I felt needed to be pointed out because it kept things going.
The last thing I want to mention is the boss fights. Although some of them are a bit on the simplistic side, most of them are fun because they force you to use the game’s more advanced move set and gameplay features to defeat them. This turned out to be great because there are quite a few tactics I honed while fighting the bosses that came in handy while playing the rest of the game. There is one boss fight in particular that I wish I could speak about freely without spoiling anything. Let’s just say that fans of Wolverine and more specifically X-Men comics are in for a treat.
To sum things up, I had a blast playing through Wolverine and see myself playing through it again. Some may find the gameplay a bit on the repetitive side but fans of the source material will get a kick out of playing as Wolverine and slaying enemies left and right. Like any game, it has its defecits (like a weak overall story, and a few non game breaking bugs that creep up from time to time), but none of which detracted from the fun I had. This is highly recommended for fans of Wolverine and comic book fans alike and is a great rental for everyone else.
WARNING: If you are playing this game for achievements, don’t start a new game once you beat it. Doing so will erase your previous progress! The thing to do is simply choose a level under the level select option. The game still keeps track of your stats after you beat and saves after every checkpoint so you can continue your progress.
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