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X-Men Origins: Wolverine Preview

Blake_Morse By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Activision 
DEVELOPER Raven Software 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language

What do these ratings mean?

Kratos ain't shit.

In the upcoming weeks leading up to the release of the Wolverine: Origins video game, you're probably going to hear the phrase “God of War clone”. And while there are some similarities in play mechanics, I propose that Kratos is actually a Wolverine clone. First, Wolvie has an adamantium-laced skeleton, a healing factor, heightened senses, and gigantic claws that pop out of his fists. His true grit and anti-hero persona are what helped make him Wizard's No. 1 all-time greatest comic book character. When you're that much of a hardcore badass, there's no way that you would simply be a knock-off of a pale-faced Vin Diesel look-alike.

click to enlargeI can see how one could get the two confused, though, as the latest incarnation of the Marvel meal ticket is the most unabashedly brutal treatment that the funky-haired Canadian has ever received in a game. I'm talking blood and guts flying everywhere. From the opening cinema where you're shown dismembering a group of mercs, including a brutal close-up of you stabbing a guy in the head through a cement wall, to the final boss, one thing is guaranteed: There will be blood.

Made by Raven Software, the same team that brought you the excellent Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, W:O tries to capture the essence of the comic book mythology with the look of the movie. Hugh Jackman does provide the voice and the look of the feral Canuck, and all the characters look like their film versions (though Deadpool looks nowhere near as cool with a tanktop and a pretty boy face). With that said, this is looking to be more than just your typical knock-off movie-based game. You can expect little treats such as unlockable costumes, like the classic brown and orange '80s suit or the old school yellow and blue ensemble. There are even fun facts about the franchise's history thrown at you while you're waiting for levels to load.

click to enlargeCombat is a high-energy animalistic blood orgy of limb severing™. You can leap from enemy to enemy and hack their faces apart, sneak up on them and slice their throats, and reflect their own projectiles back at them in pwnage. Along with the standard punches and kicks, you can expect to execute some sweet super-moves, like a spin attack that turns you into a mini-hurricane of hurt, or the classic human torpedo that seems inspired by Wolverine's super-moves in Marvel vs. Capcom [or Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems ~Ed.]. There is a huge variety in the kind of attacks you can pull off and the more you mix it up and combo together kills, the more experience you'll gain.

You'll be able to use experience points to build up your healing factor and increase the pain you cause with your claws. Mutagens will also provide enhancements to offense or defense, such as extra damage or stamina, but  your enhancement slots are limited, so you'll have to pick out what works for your play style. And though Halo made the whole regenerating health schtick legit, even during WWII apparently, Wolverine actually has a healing factor. What's really nice about this is you actually get to see all the damage occur  and disappear. You'll watch as he goes from a burnt, skinless pile of guts with shiny bones back to a hairy angry dwarf.

click to enlargeLevels jump between present and past more than a Delorian with a flux capacitor. You'll travel through lush jungles with your old school black-ops team, relive the Weapon X project that gave Logan his adamantium bones, and fight a gigantic Sentinel. And not some watered down midget robot Sentinel. The really big kind that could just stomp on you. At one point, you'll find yourself flying through the air fighting the thing as you both hurl towards earth. Characters from the film such as Sabertooth and the Blob make appearances as bosses well, the latter of whom you'll be fighting in a grocery store, appropriately enough.

Wolverine: Origins is looking to take the franchise in the direction it has always meant to go, and although I hear that the leaked copy of the movie hasn't been living up to fanboy expectations, hopefully the game will. Or at least it will make a good gambit for it. Look for it to hit shelves around the same time as the movie for PS3, 360, and different versions on the DS, PSP, and PS2.

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