You know that old saying, "If you don't try it, you don't know what you're missing?" Ever been in a situation where you did know you were missing a good thing? That was my situation for the last two years after trying the demo for X-Men Origins: Wolverine prior to the film's theatrical release. Parenthood intervened and obtaining the game was put on the backburner until last Friday when I finally was able to rent the game and run through it. The demo had already left a sweet taste in my mouth but while I was playing the game, I was still asking myself, "Holy crap, why in the hell didn't I pick this up sooner?"
Sabretooth (played by a pixelated and voiced by Liev Schreiber) and Wolverine
Not surprisingly, you play as Wolverine, as portrayed by Hugh Jackman, and sort of retread the same story as the film. I do stress the term "sort of" because like many film-to-game transitions, a lot of extra things are thrown in that would either slow the film down or uproot it from trying to be as close to reality as a movie about an unaging, claw popping, occasionally streaking, homicidal Hugh Jackman can be. However, unlike most film-to-game adaptations, the extra stuff included makes the between the film and the comics it is loosely based on (reading the official Marvel.com bio on Wolverine, it seems like the movie messed up quite a few things), taking the best of both worlds and making, again, unlike most film-to-game adaptations, a good and fun game. In fact, I would say that this is probably the only game adaptation that was better than the film it was based on.
Example: Sentinel. Great in the game, but wouldn't work in the movies. Fuck the tease from X3.
Let's start with the look of the game, which is just enjoyable to look at. The characters are all very well rendered and the environments are well detailed to boot. The lip-syncing can be a tad off at times, but that not withstanding, X-Men Origins is one of the only three games that sport the Unreal Engine that I've played and have actually been impressed with it, the other two being Batman: Arkham Asylum and Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. I'll admit, X-Men Origins isn't AS impressive as the other two mentioned titles, but it's still impressive.
Sorry, Commander Shepard. You can grin all you want, I just wasn't as impressed with your graphics.
The gameplay is similar to Activision/Raven's X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance titles with the four colored buttons being used for melee attacks, strong attacks, grapples and jumping. Holding the right trigger while pressing one of these buttons will trigger a special rage attack, provided you have it unlocked. However, it's not like the controls are a carbon copy from Ultimate Alliance. A few things have been added, most notably the lunge attack. This is one of the many attacks to help Wolverine rain sweet adamantium death upon his enemies by leaping across the area and plunging his claws into their faces. This is an attack that is fun to do and is actually useful, whereas usually moves like this are either one or the other. It's fun to see exactly how far you can jump to pummel someone into the ground and lunging is also useful for staying out of the crosshairs of your enemies. Whether you're ambushed by 20 troops, wanting to take out that annoying helicopter, or beating it into Weapon 11 that he is, in fact, NOT Deadpool but Barakapool, make sure your LB and RB buttons are in working order because you're going to be using them a lot, especially on the hard difficulty.
If the lunging gets boring after a while, don't worry. You'll get a few achievements out of it at least.
Finally, I want to address the rating of this game. How often is it that you get an M-Rated game for a PG-13 film? The xBox 360 and Playstation 3 versions are known as the Uncaged Edition and sport an M-Rating because when Wolverine takes damage, you will see the wounds open, bleed, expose organs & skeletal structure and eventually heal in real time. Since the main character at times will look like a bullet-ridden extra from a George A. Romero film, the game was rated M and developers went for broke and made the game as bloody as possible. The game allows Wolverine to show his true colors in ways he never could in the films because...well, let's face it: Wolverine fucking stabs people. Its what he does, and when someone gets stabbed, they bleed. Not only does Wolverine stab in this game, he dismembers, impales, decapitates, rips in half, sets ablaze, crushes with debris, stomps skulls and overall eviscerates every poor son of a bitch unlucky enough to cross his path in this game, and every pint of blood you'd expect alongside that is here too. Obviously I haven't tried the game on Wii, PS2, or PSP yet but I am interested in seeing what the differences between the T-Rated and M-Rated versions are.
The opening cinematic for this game paints a very pretty picture of how the rest of the game plays out.
Final Verdict: While the film had very solid performances but not much else going for it, the game is a far more enjoyable experience. Great voice work, wonderful environments, gleeful combat and more blood than a donation clinic, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a great game and a must play for fans of hack & slash style games. Even if you hated the movie, give the game a shot. If you have the same outcome I did, by the time the 3rd day of playing it rolls around, you'll have 45 of the 50 achievements and they aren't chores to get either. By the time I took the game back to Blockbuster, I had 48 out of 50.
"Clean Up On All Isles" being the most fun, in my opinion. Almost as fun as the "Destructor" achievement from Ghostbusters. Almost.