X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

Over the years there have been many X-men games. From the excellent X-men Arcade Game made by Konami to the less-than-excellent games based on the movies, X-men: Origins Wolverine has a steep hill to climb, being a movie game and a game based on a comic-book character. Movie games have been tossed at the lowest rung of the quality latter since the 70s and it is very hard for them make an impact. So how well does Wolverine fare? You, faithful readers, will just have to read on.

Good

Carnage: One of the biggest helpers to Wolverine is the blood and how the character models react. As you take damage your shirt will get torn into pieces and you will see your torso, arms, and face take damage. You can take enough damage that you will be able to see down to Wolverine’s skeleton. Wolverine’s body will heal as you move around. The only downside to this is that the healing doesn’t look that great. For small cuts and bullet holes the healing works, as you can see the damage heal up. When it comes to parts of his body missing, it is really jarring. Pieces will simply just appear over the damage textures. It really rips you out of the experience.

Every single enemy in the game can show damage as well. It isn’t quite as graphic as what happens to Wolverine, but it is a nice little detail. You don’t notice it unless you are looking for it, but once you do it does make you appreciate Raven adding it. I did not notice this happening too much with the boss enemies, though. That was disappointing.

Sound: I was very happy with the sound design of Wolverine. The sounds and music all worked well. When you attack someone with your claws it sounds like you are attacking them. Some enemies will scream as they die. It all adds wonderfully to the action. The music isn’t over-whelming, but it has cues to tell you when enemies are around and when you are alone. The music never over-powers the other sound-effects in the game.

The voice acting is not bad either. It sounds like the voice actors reprized their roles from the movies and it works. I can’t leave this at just two sentences, so I’ll nitpick a little. Hugh Jackman could have done a little better job with the voice work, as could the guy doing Zero’s voice. That isn’t to say they were bad, though. The people who did the voices for enemies did a pretty good job and I never found it annoying to hear the limited voice samples over and over.

RPG Elements: Like many action games these days, there are RPG elements in Wolverine. You earn experience for every enemy you kill. You can also earn it by gathering dog tags, scattered through-out the game. Get enough experience and you level up. When you hit level 5 you will earn 4 points. Each level after that gives you 2. These points are used to increase your damage, health, rage, as well as various aspects of your special moves. It isn’t a deep leveling system, but it works.

Beyond the levels you also gain mutagens, which have various effects. These effects can range from increasing one of your three stats to giving you more experience from enemies and more. You get these mutagens by finding them in the game. You will eventually be able to equip three of these at once.

Bad

Graphics: Developer Raven has decided to use the highly common Unreal Engine 3 for their movie-based game. Anyone familiar with the little quirks of the engine will be able to pick up on it being UE3 the moment you start seeing gameplay. While I am happy to say that the game doesn’t suffer from the downfalls of some UE3 games, it does not look as good as other games based on the engine. Wolverine is not a bad looking game, but the graphics are pretty average. The character models for Wolverine, Sabertooth, and the other bosses looks good. The models on the random enemies are of average quality. All of the character models do have specific effects that happen to them, but I will touch upon that in gameplay.

The “options” for graphics in Wolverine are the worst I have seen in a long time. You can change your resolution and set the game to “low detail mode”. That’s it. There is no vsync, no AA, no AF. Nothing that we have come to expect from games. This is simply appalling. I can not understand why they wouldn’t give us more options. Raven has been developing PC games for ages, this is unacceptable from a studio like them. I’m not going to stay on this point for too long, but it does annoy me to no end when I see something like this. You are able to use the Nvidia control panel to force AA, but beyond 4x AA it doesn’t seem to make much visible difference. I can happily say that adding AA didn’t effect my performance. Sorry, I don’t have an ATI card to test if its possible through CCC.

Enemy Variations: Enemy variety is a big downfall for the game. While there is a good variety, it doesn’t feel like it. The game ramps up the difficulty late in the game, but it only does so by tossing more enemies at you. You could find yourself getting sick of seeing the same character models over and over again, especially for the mini-bosses.

Story: Being an action game, the story does take a back-seat at times. This is what you have to expect from this kind of game. Raven doesn’t beat you over the head with story points and they don’t try to be crafty either. Like the movie, characters from the comics are tossed in with very little explanation about whom they are and why you should care about them. There is one character in there that X-men comic and X-men movie fans should be happy to see. I won’t spoil the surprise though.

Conclusion

I beat Wolverine in about seven hours. I didn’t time myself, so I could be off on the estimate. That is not a bad length for this type of game, but it is hampered a bit by lacking replay value. You can unlock three different costumes by collecting statues during gameplay and winning fights against yourself in a challenge. The alternate costumes all look nice and work very well. They also go to show that the game’s cut-scenes are real-time. However, they are just costumes. They don’t do anything beyond make you look different. There are three difficulty modes and you can replay any mission you beat, but you can’t carry your stats from one mode to the other.

Wolverine proves itself to be another hard game to score. Like Mirror’s Edge, I had a ton of fun playing it. Also like Mirror’s Edge, Wolverine has a lot of problems that keep it from being a great game. So I have to look at this as carefully as possible and try to figure out what score it deserves. Fans of the movie, fans of X-men, and fans of Wolverine should weigh everything I have said so far in this review with your own impressions of gameplay videos and other reviews and figure out if you think it is worth a chance. I am glad I gave the game a chance and it is a game I can see coming back to years later. With that said, I do not think this is a $50 game. I would recommend most people to wait for a price drop or for it to go on sale somewhere.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review by Derangel