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X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine LogoThe Wii version of  X-Men Origins: Wolverine suffers from just about every problem common to movie-licensed video games. While the combat system can be fun for a couple of hours, the game is heavily weighed down by repetitive enemies and bosses, poorly implemented and archaic design choices and a downright ugly presentation.

After seeing how well the Uncaged Edition of X-Men Origins: Wolverine for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was being received by fans and the gaming press alike, I had somewhat high hopes that the Wii version would be competent as well. These hopes were dashed within ten minutes of starting the game as I failed an obtuse quick time event and saw the game over screen before being forced to watch an unskippable cut scene for the second time. Read More…

X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the tale of a man that sets out for revenge after the woman he loves is brutally murdered in the Canadian wilderness. I haven’t seen the film, but it seems that this game parallels that story more so than the Uncaged Edition. Though it is rather generic and predictable, the story will undoubtedly be the highlight of the game for X-Men or Wolverine fans who end up playing this version of the game.

Almost immediately, it becomes clear that this version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine fell victim to the same fate that many licensed games on Wii do. It is a direct port of the PlayStation 2 version and was likely rushed to completion in order to get it released at the same time as the movie. Developer Amaze Entertainment (Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Shrek the Third) have also implemented quite a few design choices that would have felt bad even five years ago such as invisible walls, hordes of mindless and generic enemies and doors that magically unlock after defeating said enemies.

The Wolverine Character Model is a Graphics HighlightShould you be able to overlook these core flaws, you will be left with a completely linear gameplay experience that lasts five or six hours and has little to no replay value. Players are tasked with simply moving from area to area while clearing out enemies that seem to spawn out of nowhere. There are some very light environmental puzzles to solve, but it is next to impossible to get stuck in this game.

Along the way, you will also be thrust into quite a few quick time events (QTEs) that are more annoying than challenging or skill-testing. QTEs are used to open doors, lunge to otherwise inaccessible areas and frequently during the game’s few, repeated boss fights. In many cases, failing a QTE will result in you seeing the game over screen and having to restart a section. I found this extremely frustrating at times, given that the game often gives you a three second window to perform an action, but rarely tells you which action. In one case, I actually found myself having to not perform an action in order to progress, though the game was telling me to.

Thankfully, X-Men Origins: Wolverine autosaves after every single section of the game, so you’ll never have to repeat more than a few minutes should you run out of energy, or experience the more common scenario of failing a QTE or mistakenly falling out of a level. I found this title rather easy from start to finish and little besides my patience was challenged during my play through.

A RPG-like upgrade system is in place, with health and attack enhancements available for purchase using experience points earned from felling enemies, completing missions or finding hidden observer droids. While it was satisfying to upgrade my health bar or unlock a combo, I quickly found that Wolverine became overpowered, taking away what little challenge or satisfaction the God of War inspired combat system started out with.

There is a rather deep combo system in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however the game can be beaten by simply mashing on the attack buttons and without blocking enemy attacks. I was pleased that attacks were mapped to the B and Z buttons rather than to a Wii Remote or Nunchuck motion. Motion controls are almost exclusive to QTEs and rarely require any degree of accuracy. My biggest complaint about the controls is that as a port of a PS2 game, no Classic Controller support was added. Not only would the option provide greater accessibility for physically disabled players, it simply feels more natural for this type of game.

Speaking about accessibility, or lack thereof, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has no subtitles for people who are hard of hearing. I feel that subtitles, along with customizable control schemes should be standard across all games and platforms at this point and that there is no excuse not to implement these options.

One of Many Poor Quick Time EventsThe principal cast of the movie including actor-producer Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber lend their voice talents to the game, though the performances unsurprisingly feel lifeless and phoned-in. The enemies you dispatch always seem to have something to say, but this chatter is limited to a few phrases that repeat ad nauseum and sound like they were all recorded by the same voice actor. The rest of the audio presentation really fares no better. The soundtrack is extremely generic and sounds like that of countless action games and movies before it.

The graphics look quite bad, even by PS2 standards. This title does run in 16:9 and 480p, but suffers from a completely erratic frame rate, blurry textures and a bland colour palette primarily made up of greys and greens. The story is told through a patchwork of down sampled movies from the PS3/Xbox 360 version, in-game cut scenes and written text in between some missions. The whole package feels disjointed and unfinished and the end of the game is completely anti-climactic, offering little satisfaction when the surprisingly long credits roll.

At first, I thought that this T-rated version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine would be a viable alternative for parents of young fans over the brutally mature and bloody PS3/Xbox 360 version, but I was quite mistaken. The blood is toned down quite a bit in this version but it is still rather prevalent. I was also surprised at how much foul language was in this title. Because of this, it’s hard to find an audience to recommend this version of the game to.

Frankly, unless the Wii is the only console available in your household and you are nothing but the hugest of Wolverine or X-Men fans I would suggest steering clear of the Wii version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine entirely. The Uncaged Edition on other consoles is a much better and viscerally satisfying experience for those looking for some mature God of War or Conan-style action and the DS edition is much more suited to a younger audience.

Positives:

+ Combat System can be Fun

Negatives:

- Ugly Presentation
- Disjointed Story
- Repetitive Enemies and Boss Fights
- More Frustrating than Challenging


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Game Forward Score: 1/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Wii) Quick Facts:

Genre: Action
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Price: $49.99 US/$59.99 CAN
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)