But, as we mentioned earlier, the fun doesn’t last. The game tries to keep the combat varied by offering up enemies that have to be killed in certain ways. There are robot spiders that fire missiles you have to whack back with your claws to destroy, guards with shields you have to get behind to damage and giant rock monsters you have to lunge at and then attack before they swat you away like a tiny, hairy fly.
These foes make for entertaining battles the first few times you encounter them, but the developers insist on making you fight them over and over until all the fun is stripped away and you find yourself going through the motions. Same goes for the puzzles and level design. Again, they’re fine for the first few hours, but get repeated ad nauseam. It’s a long game, clocking in at about 12 hours, but we can’t help but feel there’s more game here than there are ideas to fill it.
But at least it looks consistently nice, with visuals way beyond what you’d expect from a blockbuster-accompanying, film tie-in. The majority of the game takes place in the African jungle, but you’ll also visit the snowy barrens of Canada and the secret underground Weapon X laboratory where Logan first gets his adamantium skeleton. Wolverine himself looks incredible with a spot-on Hugh Jackman likeness. But best of all, as you take damage or get shot at, your skin tears in real-time, revealing your metallic skeleton glinting below. Then, as your health restores, you see the wounds heal and regenerate. It’s a really impressive effect and also a useful visual indicator of how your health is faring. In one level an air strike tears so much meat from your body that you’re basically reduced to a skeleton. Although your jeans miraculously never seem to take any damage. Hmmm.
The levels may be linear and the action derivative of a million other games that have preceded it (God of War, Onimusha, Genji, Dynasty Warriors, Devil May Cry etc.), but a surprising amount of polish, bold visuals and a decent story make Wolverine well worth playing, regardless of any preconceptions you may have about licensed titles. It loses appeal about halfway through, thanks to an over-reliance on recycling puzzles and enemies, but for those first few hours it’s viciously entertaining. It may be one to rent rather than buy, although you should add a few extra points if you’re a rabid Wolverine/X-Men fan. This is the first of many games featuring Logan as the hero that really give you the feeling of ‘being’ the world’s angriest mutant. Just a shame it’s so short-lived.
May 1, 2009