Posted by: smirkdirk | December 13, 2009

Some Thoughts On “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

3 out of 5 cookies = some really good stuff but its got issues.

Let me just say right off, I am not an X-men fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to be. I picked up a few of the comic books when I was a kid, but they seemed so involved and soap-opera-ey that halfway through I either put them down because I didn’t know what the hell was going on, or I just didn’t care. As far as the movies? I took the kids to the first one and remember not a single thing about it. I took the boy to the second one, only because of its “blockbuster” status and remember the blue guy crawling around the White House and how it looked pretty cool, and then I remember a pleasant nap. The third movie? I didn’t even bother.

And so with that in mind it must be understood that I approached the Wolverine game not as a fan of the X-men – (as a matter of fact I would hedge to say that, if given a choice, I would probably avoid X-men related stuff, not out of hatred, but just because in my prior history I feel I can safely say that its just not my thing) – but as a fan of video games. In gamer circles, magazines, and on game-centric websites the Wolverine game garnered quite a bit of lip-service as being quite a satisfying game – surprisingly satisfying considering it was made as a tie-in to the recent Wolverine movie. It is a well-known fact that, for the most part, movie games completely suck. In Hollywood, video games are seen not as a product in and of themselves, but just another movie tie-in product, like an action figure or t-shirt. Lots of movies spawn mediocre games in the marketing machine that is Hollywood, but rarely do they spawn games that garner great reviews and even better word of mouth among gamers. Due to the shadow of Hollywood hanging over the game, the Wolverine game is recommended almost apologetically by video game fans – but still they highly recommend it.

(As a quick, opinionated, gleeful footnote, Hollywood is quickly finding out that instead of being the main event, more and more often, it is they that are becoming the tie-in product. In fact, after the highly monetarily successful team-up of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer for those Pirates of the Caribbean films where have they turned to next? Why, the Prince of Persia series – based on a video game series. Furthermore, in the first 5 days of its release the latest Call of Duty game sold a staggering $550 million worth of copies – whereas the first 5 days of the latest Roland Emmerich movie, 2012, have garnered only $65 million. Of course, with 2012 that is only a USA domestic total, and when the DVD’s start going on sales, and later the tv rights, I’m almost positive it will compare to the latest Call of Duty game – but still, that ain’t chump-change especially in an entertainment medium. Needless to say, the ‘bastardization’ of games and gaming by Hollywood is quickly coming to an end and with it, so too, hopefully, are the days of Hollywood ‘art’ without a single technical talent.)

Okay, back to Wolverine. Is it worth your time? The answer is yes – and no. I think it became a highly over-rated game due to the utter surprise that is actually playable. The controls are fun and easy, its bloody and violent, and, hell, its Wolverine! The drawbacks are that the graphics tend to look very last generation. The story is told in flashbacks and most of those take place in the African jungle. Which is great for a level or two, but it seemed like we kept returning to the jungle.

Will I Ever Get Out of This F@#$%^N JUNGLE!?

I’m not sure what happened to this game in development because it became obvious rather quickly that the cinematics were worked on by two different teams with two different budgets. About half of the cinematics are amazing, hi-def, detailed pieces of animation, and the other half are very standard, non-hi-def, almost last-gen looking productions. I actually wonder if the game was in development on its own, apart from the movie and the high quality cut-scenes are from this point in development, and then the movie people got involved and made it a “movie” game and the budget was pulled. I don’t know, but the game is worth a play just to check out the work of the two different sets of people and wonder what in the hell happened.

Ultimately what will be remembered about this game is its sheer playability. You can lunge, leap in the air, and use Wolverines claws to dismember your opponent so he’s left rolling around on the ground holding the stumps that used to be his legs – and all of this comes very naturally and intuitively. It is a fun experience, but there are other games that get the intuitiveness down and do it better – for instance, Assassin’s Creed, the most recent Prince of Persia, and Ninja Gaiden II. However, what those games don’t have is the beloved Wolverine, and an ease to completion, meaning that I think even game newbies would be able to finish this game. There is no point where it becomes frustratingly hard, and it is easily finish-able in a 6 to 8 hour span of time. In fact, as the holiday time is here, I would recommend this game as a gift for inexperienced players. It would function as a great gateway game to bigger and better things. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting down to play a game and finding it either too complex, too hard, or just plain boring. In spite of its flaws, Wolverine is none of these.

Lastly, for those who like to kick it old school, within the first few levels you are able to begin opening up the old school 1970’s comic book Wolverine costumes and get rid of the Hugh Jackman – although he does still turn up in some of the cut-scenes. I personally used the yellow Wolverine costume – it seemed to have the most street-cred and almost felt like something out of Watchmen.

Where is Hugh Jackman, cuz I’m gonna rip him a new… well, something or other, ’cause this is a family comic…

I’ll admit my excitement of this game was diminished since right before I began playing it I had attempted Ninja Gaiden II – a gamer’s game with jaw-droppingly detailed and gorgeous imagery, and a playability that rivals the Mario games. Unfortunately, by the third level’s final boss, Ninja Gaiden II proved to be so impossibly hard that I ended up returning it and getting my money back. (In fact, Ninja Gaiden II is notoriously hard and any professional game review will tell you just that. Furthermore, when I bought it the Gamestop clerk even remarked – ‘hard game’ – which almost sent me scurrying back to re-shelve it. As far as reviewing games like Ninja Gaiden II, as a rule I generally don’t write-up a review for games I don’t or can’t finish, so there are actually several games that I try for each game that actually gets a write-up)

Anyway, Wolverine may have gotten an unfair shake considering what I had played right before it, but either way, at least Wolverine gave me the satisfaction of having finished it, not to mention the satisfaction of kicking a few helicopters out of the sky…

…Which goes something like this – and is incredibly fun!

Decapitation! YaYYY! Had the developers really had balls they would have had Wolverine take on Iraqi insurgents and Al Queda!

Here’s two dudes who got Wolverine’s claws implanted in their hands… but without the mutant healing! (The game, as it loads, explains that Wolverine’s claws, in fact, pierce his skin every time they shoot out from between his knuckles – the wounds they inflict on his hands heal only with a special mutant power. But you knew that already, didn’t you? You geek.



  1. FUNNY!

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