IGN Review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I swear, Griptonite Games, I don't have a personal vendetta against you or anything. By some weird stroke of fate, both the DS games I've reviewed this year have happened to be your games, and I hate that they're both rather overwhelmingly negative, but it's nothing personal, I promise. That said, how is it that you guys keep getting stuck with quick-n-dirty licensed game ports? It's obvious that you've got plenty of talent, yet Activision seems fit to put you on Big Screen Action/Kids Flick: The Game when you can clearly make an awesome little DS outing if given enough time and resources.
Obviously neither of those were at your disposal, or if they were, they were squandered, because just as Monsters vs. Aliens was a rather short, repetitive attempt to rake in some cash along with the big-screen debut, X-Men Origins takes a promising concept and runs it into the grounds while upping the difficulty to incredibly frustrating levels and just calls it a day. It sports almost nothing in the way of a worthwhile storyline to link the five agonizingly long levels, and little "extras" like voice acting that were seen in your previous game aren't even here, further making it feel like this was a rote Summer Action Flick: The Game of the Movie.
When it all started out, I was actually pretty excited. The game's Spider-Man: Web of Shadows roots (at least in the engine itself) were readily apparent, and the moves list quickly grew as I sought out little wisps of scent to find unlockables. I thought the process of hanging out around the streaks of gassy color until the bottom screen had an X-Men symbol slooooowly aligning would get more complicated or fun, but it was literally just waiting until the symbol fully formed and then tapping it. Fair enough, though, the combat did seemed interesting, what with being able to juggle enemies, uppercut them into the air to dish out more hurt, rocking a fast/strong series of attacks and even a little dash button.
I quickly found, however, that most of these moves didn't amount to anything but a severe beating when four or five enemies, some of which were shielded, others that had to be knocked down with specific attacks, were on the screen. If I could just get in enough hits to build up my Rage Meter, I could leap out of the fray and then scratch all over the touch screen to hit everyone, which was fun, but almost without fail, another, stronger wave of enemies would come running out. That's not fun, it's frustrating, and it only got worse when I inevitably died and had to endure a lagging checkpoint run back through the same areas.
Maybe it was assumed that because it's Wolverine, and he can heal himself, that tons of cheap enemies that will attack from off-screen or hit you when you're down or juggle you with unblockable attacks would be okay. Thing is, Wolverine doesn't regenerate nearly fast enough, so battles can take his health from full to nil in just a few seconds, and even all the perfectly-timed blocks in the world can't stave off the inevitably trip through the last checkpoint area. It got so I'd just try to sprint through any areas I could until they'd get walled off and I'd have to fight my way out with spazzy little jumping strikes and playing keep-away on the walls.
What's worse is that the combat can be fun when enemies are dogpiling on top of Claws McGee; there's quite a bit of depth to the moveset, and finding and unlocking new movies is, if nothing else, a nicely involved process. But almost none of those moves are used because they just lead to getting pounded from all sides. I just resorted to using jumping hard attack strikes over and over again because it was the only thing that would stun enemies long enough to get my health back up.
Right from the beginning, too, the game showed some nice comic roots. They got Weapon X's escape from his facility (now Alkali Lake according to the big screen mythos), giant helmet 'n all. The characters all sport a kind of exaggerated, cartoony look that feels rather Joe Madueria-esque, and it fits the look of the game, right down to the smoothness of the animations. The problem is, you'll end up spending so much time running through the same areas, doubling back or running through an upper level that they lose some of their punch. The first time I saw a piece of paper flitting down from above during the prison break level, I thought it was cute. The third, fourth and fifth times? Not so much.
The audio isn't quite as entertaining. There's no real voice work, and while the sound effects are solid (everybody needs a good "SNIKT" in their lives), the music tends to just sort of done while you mash buttons. Where's a gravelly-voiced Wolvie adding some punch to him calling everyone "bub?" It just didn't have the kind of aural oomph I was hoping for.
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