2009 Reviews

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

  • Review Date: 2013-11
  • Release Date: 2009-04
  • Developer: Raven Software
  • Rating: 7.5

Raven Software are one of my very favourite developers with many great titles: Heretic, Hexen, Soldier of Fortune, Star Trek Voyager: Eilte Force, Quake 4. They still develop fairly old skool, with a focus on action.

Wolverine is another addition to their epic gameography, but it's not quite as special as any of those titles above. Wolverine has a few issues, but despite this it has a Metacritic aggregate of 78%, which it probably deserves. So when a game deserves a score like that then the flaws aren't going to be deal breakers.

Wolverine is a hack-n-slash melee combat game, similar to Devil May Cry, where you have a large array of combo's and attacks to take advantage of. It takes some practise though, which means the first chapter (of five) is probably the most difficult as you learn the moves. It takes a bit of time to figure out what keys are best and tweak your configuration to what works best. Perhaps the default config works fine, but I never use WASD. You have to manage seven different keys for play: light attack, heavy attack, grab, block and a combination of two keys to target and lunge at someone. You really need to use them all as well. Once you've mastered them and the combos the game becomes very fun.

For instance I had a tough time beating Sabretooth in the first chapter. But then later in the game you have to fight him again and he was too easy, simply because you've mastered the combos by then. Replaying the game would be fine, though.

The storyline alternates between two timelines. The first in Africa with Wolverine part of Stryker's team, along with Sabretooth. Then three years later as he tries to track down Stryker. It's a nice idea and would work fine in a movie, but in a game it just gets a bit confusing sometimes.

The Africa levels all look great, particularly a couple of levels where you climb a massive tower. Although they definitely feel like video game levels, not real life settings. But the modern day levels are hit and miss, some look good while others can be bland. It's also very linear, with the only sidetracking being the odd room with a bonus to be found. The bonuses didn't really provide much for the trouble, either. Raven has done better with the design and levels of their games in the past. I hope Wolfenstein is better than this. Not that it's really that bad, it's typical Unreal Engine 3.0 fodder, but I was hoping for more from Raven.

Another big problem is the camera angles. Most of the time they're fine, but on occasion the game tries to take over and force you into a particular angle. It's at its worst during boss fights where the camera forces you to always be looking at the boss. To run away and recover health you're forced to run backwards! It can be very frustrating and I don't know how this got past the testing stage. At other times it zooms out to a longshot and almost becomes a platforming game as you figure your way through a set of obstacles.

It is nice that Raven bought plenty of puzzles that break up the action, the critics seem to like variety. But I don't think they really add much to Wolverine. I'd have been happy with just action. Leave the puzzles for Tomb Raider and adventure games.

It's also great to hear Hugh Jackman doing the voiceacting. The Best Performance By A Human Male award was nicely deserved.

Overall, despite the niggles above, it's still a very good game. Good visuals, very satisfying, enjoyable combat. It's not often a movie-to-game works as well as this. Avatar and Ghostbusters have both also provided successful movie-to-games.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine