IGN Review of Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Honestly, fans, I didn't think it was possible -- Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a motion-controlled button-masher.
Loosely based on the film with the same name, Rise puts players in the shoes of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing as the team tries to get to the bottom of
wacky weather problems. Rise, from 2K and 7 Studios, is a conundrum for fans. When the title opens, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben are dropped into the lair of the Skrull with only a vague exchange on the outside to let the player know something is amiss on earth.
This is the real "introduction" folks
Johnny: Ok walk me through this again, Reed. How does what's going on underground have anything to do with all that craziness up there?
Ben: Yeah, I got the same question as hothead here.
Reed: All of my readings correlate exactly to this location. I've tracked a large cosmic energy spike to these coordinates. Find the source and maybe
we'll be able to figure out why earth's experiencing such strange weather anomalies.
Sue: This would so have to happen when I'm still trying to find a caterer.
Ben: Oy, the wedding.
Sue: Don't push it.
Ok. That's a pretty simplified version of the movie's chaos (see: a silver dude is making huge holes in the planet), but I guess I can live with them not rehashing the film's story. It just means they expect me to see the movie to fill in the game's blanks, right? Not so fast, dedicated F4 fan who picked up this title AND saw the motion picture. Although it would seem the game wants you to see the Jessica Alba opus (FYI: Jess didn't let the game use her voice or likeness for the Sue Storm character), if you did see the movie, you'd quickly realize the game has rewritten large parts of the script -- the Fantastic 4 doesn't even see the Silver Surfer until they bust him out of military custody and some pushover boss tells the team the Surfer's real name.
Don't see the movie, and you'll be lost in the game. See the movie, and you'll be upset by the game. It's a paradox even Reed Richards couldn't figure out!
Story stuff aside, the real problem I have with Rise is that it is the textbook button-masher. You'll start a level with some goofy dialogue between the team -- not a full-fledged cutscene, just talking heads and captions that pop up -- and go on to punch everything and anything that gets in your way for the next 25 minutes. Somewhere in there you'll come to a checkpoint and be overjoyed because you think that means you can save, quit and mourn the dozens of dollars you just wasted on Rise, but it turns out you can only save between missions.
Sometimes you'll come to non-movie, comic book bosses such as Super Skrull and Terrex. It's a good thing you've been practicing punching for the past few hours, because the secret to beating bosses in Rise is running up to them and punching them. However, these aren't normal punching fights. Here, you'll have to deplete a boss's health meter two or three times -- and deal with a truckload of minions between each bar -- before you can finally punch the big boss to death. Excelsior!
However, there's good news if you like punching: you get to punch as all four members of the team! With the tap of the D-Pad (a la X-Men Legends) you can be in control of whichever punching maniac you like. Hooray!
So, where does the motion-control stuff come into the picture? Simple, at the end of your punches. While you're tapping A over and over, you'll eventually see an image of the Wiimote and Nunchuk appear over your character's head. Slam the controllers down for the Thing's ground pound or in a clapping motion for Mr. Fantastic's hand slam, and those moves get an extra boost of power. There are other motions such as drum rolls, snaps and thrusts that conjure up attacks that use Cosmic Energy -- the special move juice represented by the blue bar around each character's HUD -- and aren't reliant on combos.
Although that motion enhancement might sound cool, it ultimately falls flat. I had no problem pumping my arms and watching Johnny hurl fireballs and Sue let out a series of telekinetic blasts, but adding the enhancement at the end of my A tapping was frustrating. See, in the PS2's version of Rise, I just mashed X and let the Thing slug his way through the endless streams of annoying enemies, but in the Wii version, I mashed A and watched the Thing beat up foes and try to do his special ground pound. Even when the big guy didn't have enough Cosmic Energy and I didn't do the motion, Thing still ended his multiple hit combo with the pound. That might not sound too bad, but if you put out a move that does no damage in a swarm of enemies, the bad guys get plenty of hits in on you. I was still mashing the attack button, but I had less control.
You can use the Z and B buttons to pull off Cosmic moves as well -- stuff such as making Sue invisible, burning a bunch of people as Johnny, running through foes as the Thing or doing stretchy attacks as Reed -- but all that means is between bits of punching you'll toss a special move and then get right back to punching.
If a character runs out of health, they disappear from the screen -- the game says they're teleported back to the Baxter Building -- but as long as one member of your team is on their feet, the other fallen members will eventually heal and teleport back into battle. So, in short, expect to spend portions of boss battles running around in circles as Sue and waiting for the Thing and Human Torch to come back to life.
Even if you didn't listen to me, bought this game and decided to just run through the levels to get to the next boss, you'd be screwed. Rise loves the ol'beat-everyone-in-the-room-to-unlock-the-next-door method -- along with having to throw switches to open the next door, hit bells to open other doors and activate elevators to get to some more doors. Just when you think you've seen all the rage-inducing parts of this title and believe you can finish it without embedding your Wii controller in the wall, the game tosses in timed battles. You'll need to beat a ton of foes in 10 minutes before a laser cannon is activated and beat legions of bad guys while trying to turn off a bunch of generators in 30 minutes.
Imagine my curse words as the Thing got stuck on Sue in the last ten minutes of the generator challenge. They were both killed. The quartet started 29 minutes back at the last checkpoint -- it's enough to make you quit the superhero business forever.
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