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Kimberley Ellis
13 May, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

360 Review | Sink your claws into this one.
When the term movie tie-in is bandied about, many gamers roll their eyes in frustration at the sheer volume of crap that these licensed videogames tend to dish out. Let's face it, they're rushed into stores to coincide with the release of a film... just another way to make a quick buck off a rabid fanboy or two. Thankfully, X-Men Origins: Wolverine bucks the trend, not only surpassing the quality that we've come to expect from movie tie-ins, but effectively giving gamers something that not even the film has managed to accomplish - an unflinching portrayal of one of the most iconic comic characters in the world.

What sets Wolverine apart from its counterparts is that it accomplished what any good superhero videogame should do - it truly harnesses the feeling of walking in Wolverine's shoes. While the Spiderman titles garnered many kudos for the incredibly implemented web-swinging mechanic, Wolverine too brings a nifty game mechanic - the lunge. Those that have perused the panels of the Canucklehead's comic would instantly recognise the sight of Wolverine's iconic move as he pounces his enemies. It must be said that Raven Software have done an admirable job of creating a title which effortlessly harnesses the nature of its title character.

"I don't want a hug Mr. Wolverine!"

"I don't want a hug Mr. Wolverine!"
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While moviegoers have witnessed a rather neutered version of Wolverine over the last decade, the videogame edition of X-Men Origins: Wolverine has unleashed the beast that fans of the comic have been waiting for. This Wolverine paints quite a visceral picture, as the Adamantium-clawed hero cuts a swathe of destruction through wave after wave of unsuspecting enemies.

The action is really what drives you to play through the title as the story is quite a convoluted affair. For those that are able to cut through the confusion, the game is loosely based on the events of the movie as it traces the origins of Wolverine from his time as an elite black-ops soldier in Africa, through to how he got his adamantium claws and other things that we won't spoil in case you haven't yet seen the film.

As you’d expect from one of comics' most violent characters, Wolverine's metal claws help him rack up quite a healthy body count - most gamers will rack up over 1000+ kills through an entire playthrough - during his adventures, and the developer Raven is quite unapologetic for unleashing this savage, brutal side of Logan that has been bubbling to the surface in the films, but never fully realised - until now.

What do we mean by brutal? As you play through this game you're going to do a variety of nasty things such as: beheading machete armed jungle mutants, slicing soldiers in half with your claws, pulverising people into cement mixers, and decapitating a guy with the moving blades of a helicopter - and you'll see most of this occur in the first 10 minutes of play. This is a title truly for Wolverine fans, individuals that have scoffed at the number of attempts it has taken for Wolverine to put down an enemy in previous Wolverine games. What is even more impressive is that these moves can be pulled off at almost any time, meaning that you will still get the same visceral experience, even if you don't pull off a special attack for the entire game.

This is how someone loses an eye...

This is how someone loses an eye...
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The combat scheme of Wolverine is quite simple and intuitive, something that those that have previously played one of the God of War titles will instantly recognise. The game features a number of light and strong attacks that can easily be chained together with a variety of simple button presses. Logan can also tap into his berserker rage by holding a trigger button along with one of the face buttons. These "Rage" attacks will allow him to perform a number of quick, yet devastating attacks. Performing each attack will drain energy from the rage power meter, ensuring that you cannot continuously spam the same special attacks over and over. The most simple, yet visually satisfying maneuver is performing Wolverine's lunge. This move allows you to literally leap at an enemy and tackle them to the ground enabling you to disable their offense before they even get a chance to attack you. Lunging at enemies is also a good way to reach areas that would otherwise be unreachable to you during normal play. Pressing the Y button at the correct moment will allow Wolverine to smoothly transition from a lunge into a devastating claw attack that is sure to finish off your run of the mill enemies.

Another intuitive facet of the game is the way that the developers have incorporated Wolverine's healing qualities. In past titles, developers have either completely ignored this ability or given Wolverine a health bar which can be filled with first aid pick ups. This time around, Raven has included two health bars. The first bar represents Wolverine's exterior - if you manage to duck out of enemy fire for a moment, this bar will instantly begin to refill. However, if that bar is completely drained, Wolverine will start to take damage to his vital organs. When your health lowers to this point Logan's heart beat will start pounding in your ears and if the heart meter empties, Wolvie's dead. Another cool factor that comes into play is that you are able to witness Wolverine's regenerative properties as you play. The more damage he takes and you'll be able to see his rib cage through exposed flesh. Likewise, as his meter replenishes, you'll see Logan instantly begin to heal.

The game also includes a simple levelling system which is like a light version of an RPG levelling mechanic. As Wolverine progresses through each level, he is rewarded experience points for killing his enemies as well as coming across a number of collectible dog tags that are peppered throughout the levels. Each level increase rewards the player with two new skill points, which can then be used to upgrade Logan's claw attack power, health meter and Rage attacks. Taking a page out of BioShock's book, Wolverine has access to a number of Mutagens which are spread out through the many locations of the game. As with BioShock's Plasmids, these Mutagens can be upgraded and interchanged in order to bestow extra unique abilities onto Wolverine.

Free hugs: Weapon X style.

Free hugs: Weapon X style.
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Unfortunately, for all the ass kicking fun that is Origins, the title is held back by a few key problems which prevent it from being a truly momentous piece of action gaming. The biggest disappointment being that the second half of the game fails to live up to the awesomely paced thrills and kills of the first half. The game's second half sees the developers attempting to jam too much storytelling down our throats which ultimately ends in too many half baked plot points and boss fights that the story eventually gets lost in translation. Another major issue is that the repetitive combat starts to wear thin towards the end of the game as the title gives you access to most of Wolverine's varying moves from quite early on. Serving up a few more new tricks in later levels could have easily have prevented the title from getting stale in the latter part of the game. Inane puzzle sequences also take away from the fast-paced action - with Wolverine taking a leaf from Lara Croft's book by partaking in a number of tedious puzzles involving moving large objects and triggering pressure plates. The final nail in the coffin is the ho hum nature of the game's boss battles. Most of these battles are quite underwhelming and downright repetitive when they should be anything but. Unfortunately these encounters prove to be nothing more than an excuse to spam a particular move in order to move on to the next area.

Graphically, the game is a visual treat which boasts a terrific likeness of Hugh Jackman, along with a number of fluid character animations which show that quality was not an afterthought in this title. The only underwhelming part of the visuals is the 'samey' quality of the levels as many of the various game environments get recycled. Pop culture nuts will also find a few laughs in the game's easter eggs which cheekily give a nod to the likes of Lost, Portal and World of Warcraft. The only drawback to the visuals is that you'll come across a number of moments where the game slows down or the cut-scenes will stutter, but overall the game consistently brings a high visual quality.

It might not be the next God of War, but for those of you prepared to take the plunge, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a damn fine piece of action gaming that is worth the price of purchase. It's not the deepest action title that you've played, but it does a fantastic job of recreating the conflicted beast that is one of Marvel Comics most enduring and well-loved characters.
The Score
It's not the deepest action title that you've played, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine does a fantastic job of recreating the conflicted beast that is one of Marvel Comics most enduring characters.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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10 Comments
4 years ago
Nice review. Played the demo and you're definitely right about "brutal" and "visceral". I look forward to picking this up once it's heavily discounted =)
4 years ago
I bought the game at full price and haven't regretted it for a second. The movie was terrible, I didn't even particularly like the good X-Men movies, and I don't particularly like Wolverine, but hot damn do I love this game. It's just the feeling of the gameplay. The lunge move is one of the best gameplay mechanics in recent memory, and the quick kills and rage moves and just general slashing about is endlessly fun.

I agree that the game peters out at the very end, but I think that Chapter 4 (of 5) was the best couple of hours of the game. The entire level is one big chase scene, as you pursue Gambit in, through and around two towers of a massive casino. Fighting The Blob in the supermarket was also fantastic.

If I had any complaints it was that the game ran out of steam in the last hour or so. There was one big arena fight that was made horrendous by a terrible camera angle that came out of nowhere, then the last two boss fights were thoroughly boring. I would also have liked some more variation in the combat moves. Games like God of War have dozens of combos with only two attack buttons, this had probably less than ten.
4 years ago
It's $79 from JB, right? I was tossing up between buying this or HAWX a couple of weeks ago (literally, tails side up = bought HAWX). Now I've finished that, I'll have to pick this up, I've been itching for some mindless action.

One question- is it better to watch the movie first? I've been lazy and haven't hit the cinema yet...
4 years ago
I got it from JB for $79, it seems to be the going rate.

The game tells a similar story to the movie, but in a completely different way. It's not like your average movie game, where the story is much the same with some more boss fights thrown in. This game is barely anything like the movie. It's a pretty admirable attempt at doing something different from the mainstream. Seeing the movie isn't vital (since it sucks), but it'll probably clear up a few points missing from the game's story.
4 years ago
Ive got it on PC and apart from having some trouble adapting my generic USB contoller to work with the game (which only initially 'accepts' 360 and Logitech Rumble 2 controllers), I love it to bits. Whilst im not into comics, I loved the X-Men cartoon as a kid and really enjoyed the first two X-Men flicks. X-Men Origins: Wolverine the film just beat out Last Stand in my book.

For fans of X-Men or Wolverine, I strongly recommend this. Oh, and be sure to get the 'Uncaged Edition' to play the game as it was intended - bloody as hell.

The opening seconds of gameplay in the first level were one of the most memorable openings of a game I can remember in a long time.
4 years ago
Thanks everyone, I was undecided as whether to get this one, but think I will now. Love me a good hack n' slash.
4 years ago
The only other review I’ve seen for this (Game trailers I think it was) said pretty much the opposite, that the opening gameplay is bland and repetitive but if you can stomach the first couple of levels you get rewareded with absolute awesome.

Picked it up today, can’t wait to give it a bash.
4 years ago
I played an hour or two of this last night (ending up going to bed a lot later than I should have), it was an absolute blast. Given the incredibly graphic violence, I'm surprised it is allowed here...

The one thing I don't really like so far is the dodge system. You should be able to dodge at the drop of a hat, but instead have to pull two triggers and THEN move? That takes way too long to execute in the heat of a boss battle.
4 years ago
I quite liked the dodge system, if only because they didn't use the atrocious right-analogue stick roll that's been plaguing the genre since God of War. It could have been better if you just had to hold L2 and move the stick to roll, though, you never really have to walk around while blocking so it wouldn't interfere with anything.
4 years ago
After playing it I have a couple of minor gripes.
One thing I would have liked to see is more animations in the kills. When you lunge and press Y to do that big jump up then stab move straight after. it would have been nice to have like 3 or 4 differnt animations that play at random there.

Ssame with some of the boss fights like the leviathan, always jumping onto the exact same bit and stabbing it in the exact same way. Would have been nice to see some variety in there.

Another is the pre-renderd cutscenes, for the fully done ones like the intro, or adamantium scene they're gorgeous, but the ones done with the in game assets are just odd. Why not just do it in game? As it is they have noticable compression and actually look worse then the ingame segments, not to mention given the various states of Logan's undress him always appearing fully clothed and fully healed is a little odd when it then cuts back to gameplay and I'm shirtless with my spine poking out.

Overall it's a minor gripe though in a fantasticly fun game, and the animation in it is fantastic. There's also something so satisfying about slaughtering a group of enemies, the one thats left standing runs away in terror.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  29/04/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2008

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