So we all know that movie tie-in games generally suck. No matter how sweet the demos for Superman Returns and Iron Man were, the final products were less than memorable. Activision is attempting to buck the trend with their latest Marvel movie effort, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Due out in May, the game will tie closely with the movie, allowing players to play as Wolverine as no other game has let them before.
I know what you’re thinking. You can stop worrying about them nerfing the adamantium blades. The game will be rated M, and for good reason. After twenty minutes playing it, I can tell you, popping your virtual claws has never been more fun… or bloody.
Before I got a hold of the controller, one of Raven Software’s development team members ran through a few different scenarios that wouldn’t be in the playable demo. We got to watch Logan slice and dice his way through the Weapon X compound, take on a series of helicopters, and don the familiar yellow, black and blue costume (which is one of the many planned unlockables) in a sweet tunnel escape sequence where he leapt from truck to truck, cutting down foes as he bounded along. They showed us some cut scenes too, but you guys don’t really care about cut scenes, do you? Once Activision opened the demo stations up, I booked it to the nearest available 360 (no PS3s in sight tonight) to unleash my virtual berserker rage.
The playable demo took place in a jungle setting with a Logan younger than we are used to in the films. How young? How about still-rocking-bone-claws-with-no-adamantium-implants young? Anyhow, it isn’t long until some soldiers start shooting at me, so I do the most instinctual thing, and start swinging my claws. Controlling Wolverine is pretty simple. X and Y are slash attacks, while B handles grabs, and A is the standard jump. Hitting RB locked me onto a target that hitting LB allowed me to lunge at. Since Wolverine can’t fly, managing large distances is dealt with by giving him that super lunge. It’s a simple way to not only get him around the level, but also to take out opponents out of your slash range. Combos were basic, and if you’ve ever played any type of action game before, you’ll find yourself on familiar ground here. It may not be innovative, but the simplicity actually helped immerse me in the game a bit more. Wolverine, the soldiers, and the jungle all looked pretty good. Not amazing, but you could tell much more time was spent on virtual Hugh Jackman than everything else.
Probably my favorite thing I witnessed in the game was the damage modeling. Raven went the extra mile with character modeling, as far as Logan was concerned, giving him some of the most realistic wounds I’ve seen. Wolverine’s healing factor is legendary, so it will come as no surprise that even when he’s being riddled with bullets, he’s able to soldier on. But instead of just having a health meter, you can now witness his body deteriorate as it takes damage. Just to see how deep the layering went, I stood still while a helicopter unloaded on me, and watched skin give way to muscle, which gave way to bone. There’s nothing like seeing your character’s ribcage as he flies through the air to attack said chopper. I don’t want to spoil what happens when I finally get a hold of the pilot, but I will say there was plenty of blood, and it wasn’t mine. As for enemies taking hits from the clawed Canadian, let’s just say there were a ton of flailing limbs, and they weren’t necessarily attached to anything, if you catch my drift.
Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, and typically, gamers haven’t had an accurate representation of those skills. Activision and Raven Software are attempting something new, and while we’re still a few months away from knowing whether or not we fans will be given the true Wolverine experience, things are looking pretty good, bub.