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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360)

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I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” movie, so now it’s time to talk about the video game tie-in.

Story

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

If you’ve seen the movie, then the game will be familiar to you, though with some notable changes. The plot is basically the same, with a lot of plot points explored in a lot more detail. The whole mission in Africa takes up about half of the game and is explored in very great detail, via “flashbacks” that are actually part of the gameplay (but more on this in a bit). The escape from the Weapon X facility is also a big part of the game, and is much lengthier than it is in the movie. Certain things are changed  from the way they played out in the movie, and sometimes they make sense, and other times, not so much. I won’t go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil anything. But overall, the story follows the movie, even if just superficially. You’re Wolverine, you have a mission in Africa, you quit the team, your wife dies, you get adamantium grafted to your skeleton, you escape, and you try to get revenge. Oh, and just like in the movie, Deadpool is a poorly-handled afterthought.

Gameplay

The controls in X-Men Origins: Wolverine are pretty solid. You have your basic strong attack, weak attack, jump, grab, manipulate, targeting, etc. A nice feature is the Feral Senses, which highlights enemies, where to go to your next waypoint, and destructible objects in your environment and puzzle-solving clues. The controls were pretty easy to pick up, and you’ll be hacking and slashing in no time.

The hacking and slashing is pretty satisfying. This is a true Wolverine game, and they don’t sugarcoat what his claws are meant to do, like in pretty much every other video game starring the mutant. You’ll kill enemies in a variety of ways, from decapitating them, eviscerating them, chopping them in half, chopping both their arms off, or just throwing them against spikes or impaling them on the forks of a forklift.

There are some puzzles in the game, but most aren’t too tough, once you get the hang of them. Some of them were actually quite clever, and it made me wish there were more of the clever ones rather than the ones of the “platforming” variety. And I think that’s the game’s greatest weakness. Every time you get into the groove of slaughtering people, the game throws in some stupid, frustrating platforming sequence. I know they wanted to mix things up a bit, but for me, this took me out of the game a lot. Was I Wolverine, or Mario? I just wanted to kill people, not pull a lever, jump on a platform, jump to another platform, which activates another platform that I need to jump onto, before a door closes. Boring.

Another thing that I felt took away from the gameplay was the “flashback” motiff. Again, every time you were getting into a level, the game would flash back to the Africa mission. Which would be fine if they weren’t all almost identical. One or two would have been fine, but the game just jumps back and forth so often that it’s hard to stay invested, because once you do, you flash backwards or forwards. Also, and this just seemed odd to me, new powers that you’d gain in the current storyline would be available to you when you flashed back. Huh? So you’d level up in the Weapon X facility, upgrade and get a new power that you never had before, then flash back to Africa and have that power back then? Just didn’t make sense to me.

These are minor gripes, but cumulatively, they hurt the game overall, in my opinion.

Graphics & Sound

The sound in this game is pretty good, from the voice acting from Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber to the sound of Wolverine’s claws slicing through things. The graphics are also pretty good, and I really liked seeing Wolverine take a ton of damage, exposing his adamantium skeleton. And then of course his flesh slowly regenerating to heal himself. Nice touches. The environments look great, though the enemies are all pretty much the same: African guerrillas, Weapon X facility grunts, and the same rock-creature bosses almost all the time. But then again, they all look the same on the inside, right?

Balance

The game is woefully unbalanced, in your favor. And this is a good thing! Wolverine is supposed to be almost unstoppable, and in this game, he is. His healing factor makes sure you survive almost anything, and all you need to do is occasionally rest or hide so you can regenerate. Most of the boss battles are pretty easy, as you can play a God of War-style button sequence, or just hack at your enemy. Again, it’s good to play as a superhero for once and actually feel, you know, like a superhero.

Replayability

 Honestly? Not much. You can play it on a harder difficulty, or go back and collect all the figurines that unlock the other costumes (though since you only need 2 of each, and there are 5 of each in the game, you’ll have no problem getting them all on your first run-through), but otherwise there’s no real reason to play again. For me, most of the platforming puzzles were so frustrating that once I got by them, I never wanted to see them again.

Overall

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a good game, especially for a movie tie-in. The controls are intuitive, the graphics and sound are awesome, even the story is good. The boss battles are a bit anti-climactic, and the platforming really kills the momentum of the game. Throw in the flashback sequences, and it really disrupts what truly could have been a great game. If they make a sequel, I hope they skip the flashbacks, get rid of the platforming, and just unleash Wolverine to do what he does best.

Final Score: 7/10

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Fable 2 (Xbox 360)

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So I, like many other people, I’m sure, got an Xbox 360 for Christmas this year. I’ve been a PlayStation man for years now, since the original came out what seems like eons ago. So this was a bit of new experience for me. The PS and PS2 served me well, but when it was time to upgrade, I decided I wanted to try the Xbox. It seemed to just have better versions of the cross-platform games (like Fallout 3) and exclusive titles that suited my tastes a lot better. Like Fable 2.

Fable II

Fable II

Now, I did play the original Fable first, but I’ll save most of my thoughts on that game for a retro review sometime down the road. I downloaded it off Xbox Live Originals, and, suffice it to say, I loved it enough to buy the sequel. I know a lot of people were turned off to these games because they didn’t live up to the hype of their developer, Peter Molyneux. But I guess since I was a little late coming to the party, I never boarded the hype wagon to begin with, so I had no illusions going into the game.

Story

In fantasy role-playing games (or RPGs), there aren’t too many original stories. There seems to always be the unlikely hereo (you, player 1) who has to overcome some seemingly insurmountable odds. Usually, it’s either that you are recruited to save the land of the (insert picked-on race here, usually elves) because some big bad is threatening to steal some magic item that will give him super powers so he can take over the world, or someone kills your family (or family member) so that he can steal some magic item that will give him super powers so he can take over the world. Fable 2 falls into this second category, though I won’t spoil it much more than that. So it’s up to you to stop the big bad, and you can do it walking the path of goodness, evil, or something in between.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Fable 2 is pretty tight. The controls are responsive and pretty intuitive, though a bit different than the first game. So if you’re like me and jumping from one to the next, it’ll take some getting used to the new control scheme. But pulling off counters and flourishes in melee is pretty easy and very rewarding to see. Nothing beats decapitating a bandit or ducking behind him to run him through with your sword. Ranged attacks are also awesome, due mainly in part to a strong auto-targeting system. The ability to eventually zoom in and target specific body parts is also great fun. I loved shooting weapons out of the hands of my enemies. A nice crotch shot is always good for a laugh too. Magic attacks suffer though. I liked the magic attacks in the first game much better than this “charged” version here. So I pretty much played the whole game without using much magic at all.

Leveling up is pretty straight-forward as well, and you can always sell back abilities that you don’t want or use anymore. By the end of the game, you can become pretty strong and with the right weapons and augments to those weapons, become damn near invincible.

Travel is a bit convoluted, as the in-game maps are hard to read, and you basically have to fast-travel between towns and locations. I would have preferred if you could just roam the open countryside.

This time around, you have a dog to accompany you. This is a great addition to the game. And while it may sound annoying, it’s extremely helpful and you become quite attached to the dog. The dog can find treasure for you, warn of enemies hiding nearby, and even help you in fighting them.

Graphics & Sound

Fable 2 is an amazing looking game. Not as good as something like Oblivion, but pretty close. Seeing the sunsets, or the light reflected in the water, the trees, the plants, the buildings and architecture, it’s all beautifully done. Again, unfortunately the gameworld isn’t as big as Oblivion or Fallout 3, but you’ll never get tired of looking at the scenery. The sound is also good, with a nicely fitting musical score, the chatter of townspeople, and the growling of enemies and monsters. A lot of the townspeople sound alike, but the game acknowledges this in its own tongue -in-cheek way.

Balance

Honestly, the game is far too easy. It’s too easy to make tons of money, which in turn makes it too easy for you to buy amazing weapons very early in the game. The sword I bought maybe 30 minutes into playing is the same one I finished the game with, with one augment (augments are jewels that can be attached to weapons to give an extra bonus or ability). That being said, it doesn’t take away from the game all that much. Some of the fights are still a bit challenging, and everyone always imagines being strong enough to take on 8 bad guys at once and kick all their asses. So what’s wrong with being able to do that here? Nothing.

Replayability

The big selling point of the Fable games is that you can play them in any way you see fit. Want to be the good guy who saves the town and is celebrated as a hero? Go for it. Want to be the bad guy, raising everyone’s rent, sleeping with prostitutes and killing anyone who looks at you funny? You can do that too (almost). There are a few instances where you must complete the objectives in order to move the story ahead, which takes away a bit from the claim that you can do whatever you want in the game world. Again, it’s not Oblivion or Fallout. But it comes close.

Overall

Fable 2 is a great game, and I recommend it to anyone who likes video games. It has enough roleplaying elements to please RPG fans, and enough action to please action/adventure fans. Without giving too much away, the ending is quite anti-climactic, but it doesn’t take anthing away from the game experience itself, and in a way, is quite fitting from a storyline perspective. Plus, there’s always the Knothole Island dowloadable content to play as well. And you can keep playing the game once it’s over, especially since there are some quests that can only be played once the game is over.

Final Score: 9/10

Fable II

Written by Jason Stroming

March 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm