Although Wolverine has starred in numerous video games, most of them have been aluminum rather than adamantium. It's vexing really -- how does an ornery mutant with adamantium claws for brutal offense and a
cop out healing factor that absorbs a ridiculous amount of punishment end up starring in middling games? Raven Software has been puzzled by that question too and aims to rectify matters with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The developer's goal with X-Men Origins: Wolverine is to deliver the definitive Wolverine game. With action inspired by God of War, oodles of gore, and a strong supporting cast, it looks like Raven will succeed.
Let's get a few things out of the way first. Yes, this game is based on the movie, but there are two major differences. First, the plot uses elements from the movie, but has its own unique twists and turns. Secondly, while the movie is rumored to be getting a PG-13, the game will be M-rated. The intense violence, high amount of blood, and adult language in the game are likely to add up to a more authentic Wolverine experience than the movie. In the intro, I noted that this game is influenced by God of War. I know of at least three people from the God of War team that are working on X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Considering that God of War was one of the best action games in the last console generation, their influence on this title is most welcomed.
The game's offense is fast paced and visceral. Wolverine has a bunch of special attacks that take advantage of his claws. Like God of War, the game makes players feel like they're doing something cool without the frustration that comes with a game like Ninja Gaiden. It's just lots of fun using different moves to slice and dice faceless minions. That said, there was one spinning moving that made Wolverine seem like the world's most dangerous ballerina. In addition to the close combat you'd expect from a Wolverine game, Raven has implemented a leap to take care of enemies that are attacking at a distance. Players control the trajectory of the leap and see a guideline that shows the projected arc. It's definitely a "game" addition, but it works well. The end result is that Wolverine has a long-range attack and players see the crunching effects of being pounced on by a man with anadamantium-laced skeleton.
One of the boss fights I got to see was against Fred Dukes, the man who would become The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants' Blob. Fighting boss characters definitely requires more care and strategy. You can't haphazardly slice Blob with your claws the same way you would a minion. From the looks of this encounter, timing and spacing are paramount concerns in boss fights.
Raven has done a great job at showing off Wolverine's healing factor. You can see skin pierced, flesh torn away, and bone being exposed. As time passes, you'll see the damage being healed. I can't recall a Wolverine game that has done this as effectively as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The healing factor is a huge part of what makes Wolverine cool and it's awesome that Raven is using Unreal Engine 3 to accurately implement this power. Just keep in mind that it's a visual representation of the damage Wolvie has taken in the game and shouldn't be taken literally. For instance, dried blood doesn't collect and clothes can magically regenerate. Effects like that would have added strict realism, but they wouldn't of added fun (unless you're one of those freaks that loves staring at caked up blood).
One awesome encounter that's unique to the game is a showdown with a Sentinel. Measuring over 200-feet tall, this mutant-hunting robot was no easy task for Wolverine. The fight started out on the ground, with Wolverine using his feral senses to pinpoint the Sentinel's weak spots. As these spots were attacked and damage accumulated, the Sentinel flew to the skies. Luckily, Wolverine hopped along for the ride. After a quick cutscene, the fight shifted to a skydiving section. Wolverine had to avoid debris from the damaged Sentinel, catch up to it, and latch on. After inflicting more damage, both the Sentinel and Wolverine crashed to the ground. Only Wolverine walked away. I didn't get to play this encounter, but it looked thrilling and fun -- definitely as epic as a fight with a Sentinel should feel.
Another factor that I was told about was unlockable costumes. There are hidden bonuses throughout the game that allow Wolverine to encounter different versions of himself. If the player-controlled Wolverine wins, that costume becomes available for play. I was told that the classic yellow/blue and the brown/tan costumes would be in the mix. I was also told that the stupid costume that Wolverine stole from Fang (from the Imperial Guard) would not be included.
For gamers, it was a blessing that the Wolverine movie was delayed. It gave Raven more time to work on the game and, from the portions I saw, it looks pretty polished. Although I only saw a limited part of the game and some of it was in a controlled setting, I'm confident that X-Men Origins: Wolverine will be better than your standard movie game and better than previous games starting Marvel's infamous mutant. If ripping up tons of minions with reckless abandon and engaging in the occasional boss fight sounds like a good time to you then keep your eye on this title.
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