X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review for Nintendo DS

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review for Nintendo DS

What’re You Lookin’ at, Bub?!

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.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine screenshot

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.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine screenshot

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.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine screenshot

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.

When we said this game is tough, we meant it. In normal mode, enemies are a handful right out of the starting gate. There’s also a very large variety of enemies, with varying attacks that will force you to think on your feet. The game often uses a sort of tier system when engaging enemies. Upon entering a given room, you’ll usually fight three waves of bad guys, each wave tougher than the last. About midway through the story, enemies become essentially the equivalent of mini-bosses, and with groups of them on you at once, this latest X-Men outing is no cakewalk.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine screenshot

Things get hairy fast in Origins, so if you’re someone who gets easily frustrated by a challenge, you may want to take a pass on this game. Nevertheless, Wolverine has all the assets he needs to get through every fight, and the game never felt cheap. There are five levels of difficulty, though it’s hard to imagine anyone completing anything past “hard.” The first of the unlockable difficulties is called “feral,” and though it’s the same story mode as before, your health is constantly dropping. You must collect dog tags in order to maintain Wolvie’s health, and it’s a difficulty mode for extreme players only. What’s past that, only the truly fearless will ever know.

On the production front, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is another polished package by Griptonite Games. They seem to have utilized the same graphics engine used to create Spider-man: Web of Shadows, and it’s a look and visual quality that works amazingly well on DS. The character model for Wolverine isn’t quite as clean and detailed as we would have hoped, but enemies look great and there’s a tons of variety. More importantly, the animations are smooth as butter, another shared quality with Web of Shadows. The backgrounds are greatly detailed with crisp textures, though you’ll be running through a lot of the same environments.

The soundtrack here is enjoyable as well. The music sits in the background elevating the excitement, and sound effects fit nicely alongside the clashing of claws to face. When Wolverine clings to walls, you’ll hear the slashing of metal; when he deals enemies a fatal blow, they’ll bellow in pain as they stumble back into oblivion. Everything from the lightning-fast animation, to the primal howls of an enraged Wolverine will get you primed for this button-mashing rampage of a game.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is no last-minute cash-in on a movie license. It’s not as deep or interesting as Spider-man: Web of Shadows, but it’s another respectable showing from the very talented artisans at Griptonite Games. Origins is definitely repetitive, with gameplay that is as tough as can be, but it’s also almost a perfect setting for this once-niche anti-hero. As an action adventure, the game is merely decent. As a straight-up rage-fest, it doesn’t get much better than this on DS.

Another really good-looking DS game by Griptonite – one whose framerate does a wonderful job of supporting the gameplay. Some character models aren’t as pretty as they perhaps could be, and environments are often repeated. 4.6 Control
Like Web of Shadows, the controls here work great, with small bits of touch screen usage that are fun without being disruptive. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects are really exciting, and the music gets the job done nicely. 3.2

Play Value
It’s short – really short – about four hours in total the first time around. Unlockables and achievements, as well as additional modes, add to the package in a meaningful way, but the gameplay, ultimately, isn’t that diverse.

3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Featuring six uniquely designed Acts that go through the Wolverine storyline.
  • Uses the Touch Screen to help locate hidden objects in “Feral Mode” and utilizing Rage mode to swipe enemies down.
  • Unlockable outfits that are only seen on the DS version.

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