|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
From the very same team (Griptonite Games) who brought us the incredibly entertaining Spider-man: Web of Shadows for DS comes a new Wolverine game in support of X-Men Origins the movie. Make no mistake, however; this is another quality game by Griptonite, not a slapped together licensed title.
The first thing you need to know about X-men Origins: Wolverine for DS is that it's a badass game. The second thing you need to know is that this game will kick your ass. It's a beat`em-up in similar fashion to Web of Shadows, but the difficulty here is even steeper. That said, Origins packs in almost all the necessities for allowing the player to feel like they're actually under the skin of this untamed animal.
Forget that Hugh Jackman is on the cover of the box, Griptonite's game is modeled more after the comics than the movie, and it's a tribute to fans that's really appreciated. This isn't the pretty-boy Wolverine; this is the short, stocky fella' with hairy biceps. The artwork during dialogue doesn't quite match up with the comics of John Byrne and Terry Austin (the team who helped in creating some of the most prolific X-Men issues of the 70s), but the action definitely feels like a Wolverine experience through and through.
Oddly enough, many of the moves and combos Wolvie possesses are taken right out of Web of Shadows, though nothing necessarily feels recycled. For example, a move now known as Rising Tornado allows Wolverine to launch enemies with an uppercut and then land a series of additional attacks while in midair. This exact same move was also part of Spidey's repertoire, but it fits Wolverine's character just as nicely. Wolverine can also incorporate a hefty number of combos, though it's not quite as deep a system as the one in Web of Shadows.
If you haven't played Web of Shadows or games like it, Origins is a side-scrolling, 3D brawler. The missions are very basic in terms of objectives, and well, the gameplay is fairly basic, too. Wolverine can use his feral ability to seek out new moves, but the game remains a straight-on button masher the whole way through. It's a good button masher, but there are pretty much no adventure/puzzle elements to be found. Enter a room, fight a ton - and I do mean a ton - of really tough baddies, move to another room, rinse and repeat. There's no denying it gets a bit repetitive (and frustrating, since you will die often), but somehow this simple approach goes a long way in making you feel more and more like Wolverine as you progress through the game.
Our stout hero can only perform single jumps, though early on he'll gain the ability to cling to walls; this will enable him to execute what is basically the equivalent of wall jumping. Watching and hearing Wolverine jab his claws into a wall and slide down to make his way to lower levels is really cool, and there are a host of other great moves that really scream the name of this game. "Eviscerate" is perhaps the most memorable of all the game's moves, as it allows Wolvie to mount himself atop downed enemies and proceed to lay waste to their tattered husk. Enemies take additional damage when attacked while they're down, so this move isn't just for show, either.
Wolverine has two gauges to keep track of, one of them, of course, being a life bar, and the other is his "Anger Management." If you didn't eat, sleep, and breathe X-Men when you were growing up, then you might not know that Wolverine has regenerative powers. So, when he's not taking damage, his health bar slowly fills back up. His anger meter, however, builds as he continues to attack enemies. Once the bar is full, he can unleash his rage. What this does is allow Wolverine to slash wildly about whatever area he's in, doing massive damage in the process. He's invulnerable during this short period and will return to normal once the rage bar fully drains. The Anger Management special is executed by pressing the L button and then scratching on the touch screen. You won't need your stylus - a finger does just fine - and transitioning is fairly painless. It's a very satisfying move, adding a visceral element that builds wonderfully upon the whole Wolverine theme.