The best there is at what it does.
It’s sort of a weird time to be a critic. Strange things have been happening, such as established franchises like Resident Evil and Tom Clancy’s Fill-in-the-Blank saturating the market, while licensed, movie-themed games like Riddick and Wanted have been fantastic.
[image1]Likewise, Wolverine: Origins is the best X-Men game since that one from the arcade where you and five of your whoever-the-hell-was-around would dump around twenty dollars worth of quarters each into the machine and argue over who was going to be Dazzler.
Gone are the days of spandex tights and witty banter. This is a Wolverine game for the generation that grew up reading about the old Canucklehead. “Grew up” being the operative phrase in that sentence; this game is NOT for kids. Origins takes off the kid gloves and reveals six pointy reasons why you "Do. Not. Fuck. With Wolverine."
The story in the game follows that of the crappy movie but actually tells the story better so it’s tolerable, albeit still not good. It still has rapper Will.i.am, so if you were hoping to have left the pretentious nugget behind, you’ll be disappointed to find he has an even bigger role in the game than in the movie.
The gameplay is great, with controls that are tight and responsive. Combos are intuitive enough to keep the interest of even the twitchiest Devil May Cry fans and still easy enough to allow less avid players to progress. The terrain and enemies are varied, so the action never gets too stale; but if variety isn’t your thing, mindlessly mashing the attack button will get you through most brawls, although boss battles are going to require a bit more finesse. But mostly, you’re a walking wood-chipper.
[image2]The levels are all designed well (with the exception of the Weapon X facility), and the Unreal engine brings out the most from the environments. Although there are some disappearing objects and some texture drops, the glitches are brief and not severe.
Another great thing the Unreal engine helps with is Wolvie’s healing factor. As you take damage, it’s reflected on your body. If you get shot, you’ll see a bullet hole through the flesh; when you take heavy damage, you will see exposed bones and organs. Your healing ability kicks in after a bit and you get to see the wounds heal from the inside-out (that is, if you’ve got the camera in close enough).
A lot of people accuse Wolverine: Origins of being like God of War and rightly so, but it isn’t like God of War, it is God of War. The gore, the button layout, the magic—you’re just a less puzzly form of Kratos. If you were expecting a whole new experience, you’ll be let down, this is still the best game Marvel has ever put out.
God of War as it may be, Wolverine: Origins is a bit lacking in the puzzle/platforming department, but let’s be reasonable. No one bought this game because of Wolverine’s preternatural ability to jump from one moving platform to the next. You’re buying it for the same reason we all are: to rip, stab, gut, maim, and eviscerate everything in sight- and this game delivers on all these fronts.
[image3]The aforementioned boss fights are a bit of a disappointment, but again it’s not a deal-breaker. Most are won with the tried-and-true action-game dodge-then-stab-them-in-the-ass method of boss fights. The simpler bosses that fall to these simple tactics then enter the fray as regular enemies in the maim-a-thon once you’ve beaten them to keep the game challenging.
“Challenging”, I suppose, doesn’t accurately describe the difficulty in Origins. There isn’t really much “challenge” to speak of. Since Wolverine has a healing factor (that and the claws are what make him both a mutant and cool), he heals automatically like he’s from Halo or something, though where he’s finding shirts and trousers that stitch themselves back together I’ll never know.
You earn points and such to upgrade abilities and stats, but not enough to max everything out on your first go-around, so if you want an overpowered murder machine with maxed stats, you’ll have to play through at least twice. You can also unlock different costumes from throughout Wolvie’s journey, which is less cool than it sounds because the game switches you back to the tanktop/jeans ensemble during cut-scenes.
Gambit’s in this as well and slightly more Cajun and considerably more obnoxious. You fight him about six times and each time, he runs off and you have to chase the walking stereotype down and beat the French out of him. And… well… it’s not a big deal (more of a personal bias really), but you never really get to kick his ass definitively enough.
The only other downside to this is the length (about 7 hours). If this had been just a couple of hours longer and had the option to kill Gambit, I’d say this was a shoe-in for game of the year. But as it stands, Wolverine: Origins is a blistering homage to our favorite mutie with claws, and another example that even if a video game is based off a mediocre movie, it can still rip the gaming scene apart. In a good way, bub.