Slash, Stab, Love. Repeat.
There’s really no right way to make a comic movie or video game. The fact is, no matter what you do right, there’s always going to be some wise guy who has a few suggestions about how things could be better. Here’s the problem; if you make a mainstream Wolverine game for general audiences, you alienate purists who want to see Logan on a rage-fueled berserker rampage. If you make a game to sate the X-Men fanboys you may have a hard time selling it to parents and casual fans.
Thankfully, especially for us fanboys (though I prefer to be called a fanperson or fanman), Raven chose the former. That being said, if you’re a fan of Wolverine, an action gamer, brawler enthusiast, or you just feel like slicing a guy from neck to nads with a trio of metal claws, this one is for you.
Watching the X-Men animated show in the early 90’s one would have to assume Logan was the wimpiest of the super team. Most of his time on screen was spent brandishing his claws, threatening with his claws, slashing things that weren’t affected by his claws, fighting robots and hiding his claws again. To my great surprise, Activision and Raven have given him his blades back-and Wolverine has never looked better. Over the course of ‘Origins’ you will dismember, disembowel, decapitate, and generally ruin the days of hundreds of foes.
Let me be clear: this is the Wolverine we’ve all wanted to see outside of the comics since the Canadian first came South, but this is by no means the best game ever. A lot of ‘mini-boss’ fights are repetitive, the story has been called confusing (though I don’t blame Raven for that), and this is essentially a hack and slash Streets of Rage, but it is a heck of a lot of fun. Let’s get the ‘story’ out of the way first.
Origins follows the titular mutant through an adapted version of his onscreen story debut. At the very beginning of the game you and the other members of the Weapon X team are on a mission when your chopper is shot down. This, of course, leaves Wolverine free-falling from 40 miles up, but what are G-Forces to the man with unbreakable bones? Logan crash lands (on a hapless soldier I should point out) and from there you are thrust into the action. Before the game is through, you will visit many of the locales from the film and face off against a thousand soldiers, robots, lava guys and other freaks and G-men. You’d think there might be a declining interest to work as a guard in the Weapon X facility, but I guess a job’s a job. The story skips back and forth as the present day Wolverine recalls his adventures in the jungle and the origin of his legendary resilience. The story is there and functional, but if you came for a story, you came to the wrong place.
Logan is a killer – plain and simple – and this game has that and more. This is likely the most bloodthirsty interpretation of a comic character we’ve seen since the days of Carnage and Venom in the 80’s. Raven and Activision (the same team that brought the X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games) deserves a lot of credit for taking a risk to stay faithful to the character’s brutal roots. The payoff is amazing.
In Origins, nearly everything you’ve seen Wolverine do in the comics is an attack you can control, including his trademark feral lunge. Unlike other Wolverine games (specifically, the abysmal X2-Wolverine’s Revenge), Logan is as dangerous as he appears. Players can impale enemies on environmental hazards, slice off arms, legs, and everything else, break bones with jaw dropping throws, and most satisfyingly lunge from yards away to tear into foes. There are the obligatory rage and berserker attacks/mode, which essentially make Logan a whirlwind of entrails and Adamantium, but with quick-kills and the oh-so-gratifying lunge, many gamers will probably like to saver the individual kills.
Blood sprays liberally from horrified enemies and there is just the right amount of slow motion to make things really cool. I can’t describe how marvelous it is to Wolverine and Sabertooth collide mid-air as Wolverine sinks his claws into his shoulders. Cinematic moments like these are very common and the game seems to know just when to milk the slow-mo for one of those ‘Oh My God! Did You See That?!’ moments. I have to say, it never gets old to watch Wolverine pounce on a soldier and bounce high into the air for the killing strike as the soldier crawls away pleading.
It’s all handled beautifully in terms of graphics and animations. Each of Wolverine’s strikes is wide and vicious, though there is a precision that makes him as efficient as he is deadly. Environments are nice, particularly the Weapon X Facility and the Jungle. There isn’t much pop-in from textures or slowdown (though a lot of enemies plus running water sometimes drops the frame rate), which is more impressive when you consider the graphical flourishes like slow motion and blood that sprays the screen. There are some muddier facades later in the game, but most people will be too distracted to notice.
There are some exciting boss battles in this game, but other than those meetings (most of which should be expected-but don’t expect spoilers from me) there’s nothing but a man, his claws, and some screams. Speaking of which, sound in this game is pretty killer. Voice acting is cool-the major players from the movie offer their two pennies-but when you crank the sound FX and chatter, there’s a lot going on. Listening to the characters scream as Wolverine closes in claws blazing is a nice touch. In one level, soldiers brag about what they would do if they caught Weapon X as an injured Wolverine crawls through the vents. One of my personal favorite moments in the initial fight between Wolverine and Sabertooth came as Logan chided him (“You’re getting soft Victor”), when I buried my claws in his chest.
Presentation is key, especially in a one note symphony like this one, and this is where Activision and Raven shine. Years of dealing with the Marvel-verse have given them some incredible insights into the characters and story here and it’s evident. Every remark, battle cry and slash looks, sounds, and feels authentic to these characters, especially Wolverine and Sabertooth. This game will definitely put you in the spandex of your favorite spandex slasher, which by the way is not the manliest of looks.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Character models are pretty awesome, textures can get muddy, but the blood is pretty clear. 3.0 Control
Controls are simple. The lunge can take some getting used to. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Logan’s claws don’t cut nearly as deeply as his mid-battle insults. 3.0 Play Value
You’ll play it, you’ll love it. There’s not much outside of slashing guys to chunky bits, but who’s asking? 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.