Let's try to ignore the fact that such a cerebral graphic novel has been turned into the basest form of videogame entertainment, the beat-em up. If you can't get past that, then just stop reading this review right now. This game isn't for you. If you love a standard brawler, pretty visuals, and
the Watchmen novel, The End is Nigh just might do something for you. Might.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh was released on the Xbox Live Arcade earlier this year. This disc-based, retail release contains that game, as well as Part 2 in the episodic series. Part 2 has not been released on the Xbox Live Arcade, so if you really want to experience both episodes and you've already bought the first, your only current option is to buy Part 1 over again in this compilation.
We're not off to a very good start.
Rather than retread old ground, feel free to go read IGN's review of Watchmen: The End is Nigh
for Xbox Live Arcade. Part 2 is identical to that game, only now it comes from your local videogame store instead of the Xbox Live Marketplace. Done reading? Good. Now go read it again and you'll know how it feels to play Part 2. That's right; it's more of the same repetitive street brawling that didn't have enough variety to carry interest through the few hours that Part 1 offered.
Part 2 follows a storyline that is drastically seedier than the first episode. For this outing, Rorschach and Nite Owl find themselves fighting through strip clubs and whore houses against enemies that fit their surroundings. Gimps, dominatrixes, and seedy clientele are your foes along with general street thugs. Rorschach, with his uncompromising attitude, can beat these baddies to death using various weapons, dirty tactics and his oft-executed rage mode. Nite Owl, being the kinder soul that he is, uses electric armor and love taps to polish off anybody in his way. Each character has a small set of combos, performed by timing the presses of the X and Y Buttons. Add in the B Button to throw smaller foes, some seriously bloody finishing moves, and the occasional counterattack or block and you've got your move set.
This second episode suffers from the exact same faults as the first. The fight continues across three more chapters as the duo hunt down the Twilight Lady. Every battle feels exactly the same as the one prior. The enemies never change behaviors and only a handful of enemy character models exist. The only things that exist to break up the monotony of fighting the same fight over and over and over are a few levers to pull and doors to squeeze through. The game can be played co-operatively, but only locally on a split screen.
Beat the game and you'll unlock the option to fight Rorschach against Nite Owl. It isn't very thrilling.
Part 2 feels less fully fleshed out than its predecessor. With only three chapters, there are less of the excellent cutscenes that use the graphic novel's art style as inspiration and more repetition of environments. There's also less actual plot development. The whole episode is just one extended run through a decrepit red-light district filled with excessive innuendo. There are no hints of a larger conspiracy, as there was in Part 1. The atmosphere fits the world of the Watchmen, but most everything else feels forced.
Though this disc is labeled as parts one and two of an episodic game, there is a total disconnect from one episode to the next. Sure, the gameplay remains the same boring mix of repetitive brawling and lever pulling, but the two story arcs are wholly separate. Even worse, upon booting up the disc the player is asked to select either Part 1 or Part 2. Once you make your pick, you'll have to exit out to the dashboard to load the other episode up. There is no way to move between the two parts in the game itself.
This Watchmen retail release also has the dubious distinction of being amongst the worst purchases for those seeking Achievements. Only 400 are available. Nothing was done to add extra Achievement points. This is essentially just two XBLA games on a DVD.
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