Studies in Pop Culture

Pop culture, from my point of view.

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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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