When a game based on a movie based on a comic book finally ships, most expect it to be completely forgettable. Most of the Spider-Man, Batman and Superman games fall into this pit of despair. However, every now and again there is a ray of hope. Over on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, a perfect example just landed in the "Uncaged Edition" of Wolvie. The game was bloody, visceral and fun.
Sadly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine on the Wii shares none of those positives and is doomed to be forgotten like so many movie/comic games before it.
Origins is loosely based on the film of the same name. You play as Wolverine as he tries to come to terms with his seedy past, take on his brother, and become the number-one dude in the Marvel Universe. I say this is loosely based on the movie because of all the liberties taken with the plot. I mean, you start the game as a lumberjack and immediately have to fight all the other lumberjacks who now want to kill you because you are too good at being a lumberjack. Later, you need to chase Sabretooth through a compound of some sort and so on. It's traditional videogame filler, but none of it makes you feel like you're Wolverine.
Want to watch some gameplay, bub?
Of course, one of the things hampering the feeling of actually "being Logan" is the fact that there isn't nearly enough blood in the Origins Wii (sometimes clothing scraps and red sprays do pop up) and there's really no fun to fighting. You'll march into areas and just tap B and Z at random until everyone is dead and you can move on to the next area. The areas are bland with texture-less walls (base, science facility, woods, etc.), the enemies are just the same guys over and over, and there's no real need to pay attention (just pound and go).
The one thing this game does do correctly is implement motion controls. Now, I've played plenty of superhero games on the Wii, and I personally don't dig having to wave my controller around to use special moves and execute attacks. Obviously, Wolverine is a character whose whole premise is based on hand-to-hand combat, so I imagine the draw to make the Wiimote and nunchuk function as claws was there from the start. Thankfully, Amaze didn't go that route. Instead, you'll only need to wiggle your controller to pull apart doors, lunge from object to object, dodge special attacks from the likes of Sabretooth, and so on. It's basically contextual movement, and I'm OK with that.
Now, that's not to say that the devices these movements are used for are fun. Lunge attacks in the Wii version are super-clunky and not impressive. You'll come to a section where there's seemingly nowhere to go (there's a river in front of you, you're on a platform to nowhere, etc.) and you'll need to tell Logan to jump. Lots of times, the place you're leaping to isn't visible and there's only a flash of red that acts as a hint. The leaping process begins and you've got to waggle in the onscreen direction so that you continue to jump from point to point. So... yeah. That's there and it doesn't feel good.
Wolverine's packing his healing ability, which is represented by a multi-tiered meter on the screen and below that is the Rage meter. When this bad boy's full, you can unleash the juice to make Wolvie's attacks all the more powerful and allow him to heal at super-speed. Other than the fact that the enemies are dropping quickly and there's an uggggggly
"Rage" graphic on your TV, the Rage ability's nothing to write home about. As you're waxing these bad guys -- no matter if you're in Rage or not -- they're dropping orbs and you're gaining experience. You can take this point-value into the Upgrade section and purchase bonuses such as a health increase, grapple finishers and special attacks. This upgrade ability is a valiant effort to make me interested in the gameplay -- as are the hidden Blob tokens that unlock stuff for you -- but when I can just mash whatever button and beat the level, where's my incentive to start saving points for certain moves and such?
Real quick: it has to be noted how atrocious the "Game Over" screen is in this game. It literally looks like something you'd expect to find on someone's first shot at an NES homebrew game. The screen goes indigo, some light blue letters abruptly pop up and it's over. Hopefully, you won't be seeing this screen that much, but I think it just speaks to the awkward way this game comes off across the board.
Another example? There's no music when you face off against Sabretooth on this lumber truck fight. You just go at each other in this awkward silence. Of course, you also appear to be floating on top of the wood at times and get goofily knocked to the back of the truck when you get hit by overpasses, so there are other glaring issues here as well. In other sound news, the voices of the NPCs might rank as some of the most repetitive in recent memory. The lumberjacks all screamed about the amount of blood (even though there wasn't any) and begged for mercy and the dialogue didn't get much more varied from there on out.
Finally, you have no control over the camera.
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