Hallelujah and thousands of exultations, oh Overly-Wonderful-One! Thy will be done and it is with humility that I admit that I wouldn’t have thought this possible had I not seen it with my own eyes. Miraculous and secretive are Thy Ways: Thou hast managed, pulling the strings of Thy bidding, to create a video game that’s better than the movie it’s based on, hallowed be Thy Name!
Christened X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it isn’t the closest to Thy Heart and the Holy Trinity, but the film critic monk, Ghelasie, says that the motion picture is so fallen and satanic that the game, praised be its name, is a monument of perfection and faith by comparison.
My heart is so filled with happiness that, as sinful as I am, I was prodded by the Unclean to the one mistake of starting this review with the conclusion, but I still know that I am close to you Lord, for You allowed, in Thy endless wisdom, for such a title of great orthodox importance to land in my unworthy hands.
Going hunting with a Logan…
Activision has a long history of Marvel-based video games, and therefore I didn’t doubt for a second that I won’t get a new and interesting toy this summer, on par with the back flips, speech and latex suits typical to the X-Men universe. What I hadn’t expected – because I don’t often watch game trailers unless I can’t sleep at night due to the anxiety of not having seen what it looks like – was for the pattern to get a bit of the ol’ extra violence and a level design comparable to that in the God of War series.
The story, as the title suggests, treats the ballerina debut of Wolverine, a pretty cool guy, cheap cigar enthusiast and probably the manliest character in Marvel’s spring-summer collection. I say manly because aside from the rich facial hair that he possesses, the guy’s a lumberjack, biker, drunkard when he has to be and, most importantly, isn’t ashamed to slice up any poor bastard who’s stupid enough to annoy him.
The similarities between the movie and the game are few and far between and the narration only follows the motion picture’s plot from a distance. Furthermore, Logan’s model looks astonishingly similar to Hugh Jackman, but the rest of the characters weren’t “built” as convincingly. Sure, the clothing is the same and the facial modeling is somewhat similar, but I can’t say I would have recognized Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth had I not seen him in the movie, for instance.
That doesn’t mean that the characters are carved out in a superficial manner, but simply that more work was put into penciling out the protagonist than the other mutants. And aside from the special troops, the African soldiers or Wolverine’s colleagues, various beings and machines were introduced that you can eviscerate, because a 15-hour action game without variation would basically mean a “gameristic” suicide.
The story shifts between multiple temporal planes, switching between flashbacks and the “present”. It’s easy to understand what’s going on and nothing was redundantly complicated, but the problem is that you don’t have a powerful constant motivation, as you get objectives without fully understanding what’s going on in the end. If the God of War series had a clear need to advance to it, here you only have the heart to do something in the “present”– avenge the apparent death of your lovely wife.
In all “time planes” you will get to admire levels that are blessed with an interesting level design and superb backgrounds. Both the graphics’ raw quality as well as the architecture are dreamlike, whether we’re talking about the missions in Africa, when the hero’s beard was just blooming or the frozen tundra sprints, while being followed by hundreds of soldiers whose arteries could barely wait for a gentle touch on your part.
Some landscapes utterly impressed me: suspended at hundreds of feet off the ground, I had to keep my balance on a frail pole, while the enormous void beneath me only depicted eagles soaring in the desolate winds, or traversing an underground alcove in a secret laboratory, gasping at the abyss below.
And when I said that X-Men Origins: Wolverine resembles the GoW series, I was referring to more than just the landscapes and the genre – during 90% of your adventures you’ll be impersonating a bloody ballerina with claws coming out of her hands, decapitating and dismembering your opponents with the grace of a Moscow dancer. Raven Software didn’t bail out on the ol’ bucket of blood either, and the ways in which you can take your enemies’ lives are as brutal as they are varied. In fact, I thought the way Logan points the finger at Victor Creed on account of his excessive brutality was hypocritical at best, as our “hero” kills everyone and their mothers without any second thought.
Obviously, in order to accomplish such a massive genocide, you’ll need an arsenal to match. Well, it’s not there – you’ll have to make the best out of your claws and every once in a while, the environment. And how many splendid things can be accomplished with your claws: you can leap at an enemy’s jugular with the ferocity and dedication of a true predator, whirlwind like an olympic skater or lift soldiers with one hand while redecorating their faces with the other.