X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one of the better movie tie-in games, one that actually both stands apart from and is better than the movie itself.
The game follows the movie’s storyline, but with quite a few new flashbacks and other sequences taken from the comics instead. The first thing you’ll notice is the attention to detail when it comes to Wolverine himself. He looks a lot like Hugh Jackman, and not only that, when he becomes damaged, you’ll see his wounds all over his body. You’ll also get to see him regenerate them slowly over time. It’s a shame the rest of the game looks very bland. It’s not terrible looking, but it’s really not as good as it could have looked. Plus, there is the occasional graphical hiccup and plenty of texture pop-in here and there, and some of the effects (in particular, the blood) look a bit off as well.
This game is also different from the movie due to the extreme amounts of violence, which feels very appropriate in a Wolverine game. The combat is fluid, fast paced, incredibly deep, and very satisfying. It’s pretty quick to pick up the game and instantly begin stringing combos and other attack patterns together. Plus, you can truly feel each attack as Wolverine jumps from one enemy to another.
Speaking of jumping, the lunge attack, which allows you to leap to and attack an enemy is a lot of fun to perform and just makes the combat move even faster. The enemies do get a bit repetitive, but it really won’t matter too much when you’re in the middle of some intense combat. This is especially true when you’re lunging from enemy to enemy, and performing special moves to quickly defeat large groups of them. Wolverine has four different special moves he can perform, one of which is a Berserk mode which makes all of your attacks stronger for a short period of time.
A big problem with the game in general is Wolverine seems unstoppable, as most enemies will not be as much of a threat to you as they will be just an annoyance. You can easily kill off most enemies by abusing a few key moves, one being the lunge attack, another being a quick kill maneuver done by grabbing an enemy and pressing either of the attack buttons at the right time. Most enemies are susceptible to this, and the larger/more challenging enemies will only require a couple of extra quick kill moves to be defeated.
Speaking of bigger enemies, there are plenty of “mini-boss” encounters throughout the game that follow predictable patterns. This results in them being even less threatening than most of the normal enemies. They attack, you dodge, you lunge onto them and attack until they almost knock you off, rinse and repeat. And that leads into the boss fights, the majority of them being just as boring and predictable.
However, on a more positive note, you can level up Wolverine throughout the game. You can upgrade all of your special moves, as well as general things such as your claw strength and your health. There are also plenty of mutagens to collect, which can be equipped to Wolverine for even more health/strength bonuses. All of this adds up to an even deeper experience than you’d expect from an action game such as this. And with plenty of other collectibles, like Wolverine action figures and dog tags spread throughout all of the levels, it adds a lot of replayability.
Sadly, there are sections of the game that can be considered “platforming” sections, and they just don’t work at all. Wolverine jumps higher than most game characters, but it feels off and makes timing for certain jumps incredibly frustrating at times. Not to mention the camera can get in the way not only during fights in smaller areas, but also during certain jumping sections. And one misstep means it’s back to the last checkpoint. Action games like this never need any platforming, it feels forced into the game just to have something to break up the combat. It’s nice to have that, but when it doesn’t work, I’d rather just have all combat.
Overall, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is better than your average movie licensed game. It has a very fun combat system, plenty of enemies to kill, and it is overall a very rewarding and satisfying experience. It’s a shame the game has plenty of flaws that hold it back from being one of the better superhero titles around. Still, a fun few hours, and it’s at least worth a rental for fans of the character.
ESRB: M for mature; has plenty of blood, gore, and violence that attribute to a very mature title.
Pros: Incredibly fun and surprisingly deep combat; an intuitive control system; just a violent, satisfying experience
Cons: Generally too easy; boss fights and giant enemies are rather boring and follow the same pattern; “platforming” sections and jumping in general feel off; annoying camera; quite a few graphical hiccups and glitches