If I had to sum up X-Men Origins: Wolverine in one word, I’d choose a Nathan Explosion favorite and reduce the entire 8-10 hour jungle/industrial odyssey to this: brutal. Not just that, but I would say it’s f-ing brutal. In some sort of misplaced rage for modern technology, one sequence involves Logan boarding a helicopter mid-flight and hoisting the pilot headfirst into the rotor blades. Unfortunately, you don’t get to “wreck shop” with the whirlybird; instead, Wolverine is just such a hardass that he doesn’t want anyone else to have the chopper. If you don’t play the full game, you should still download the demo and experience this fleshy debauchery at least once, if not more.
Quite frankly, I really enjoyed this sort of experience. Call me a sadist, but the more brutal a hack ‘n slash game is, the more fun it is. Somehow this correlation has eluded quite a few game developers despite the clear success of the God of War franchise. GoW has you ripping off Medusa’s head and stabbing cyclopses right in their singular peeper while Wolverine has you literally tearing soldiers in half and both games are undeniably fun. Do you see the correspondence between the two factors yet? This is what I largely hold to be the problem with the Wolverine movie, as sometimes you just need to forgo the extra sales and take it up to the R rating to do a truly brutal character or story justice. I mean, the man is pure walking death, how can you properly represent that fact in a PG-13 movie? Anyways, back to the game.
What I’m trying to say is this game makes you feel like Wolverine / Logan / Weapon X / James Howlett. You slice and dice everything in sight and you are clearly rewarded for it. You don’t get extra points or some sort of super slick vehicle by killing your enemies in a progressively more violent fashion, but you are rewarded with the feeling of being the ultimate badass. The character’s jubilation in tearing his foes new holes to breathe from is directly transferred to you in this game, and I say that’s a good thing. Well done, Raven, well done.
However, there are moments you just feel like you are being punished in this game. Despite having an entire stick dedicated to the action, the game still takes control of the camera at some points. What the hell for? Did the level designers not design the other half of this room or something? It just doesn’t make sense to put limitations on a control scheme that don’t belong there, or, worse yet, are misplaced. When I say “misplaced,” though, I really do mean “severely broken.” It’s a regular occurrence for the camera to go into Logan’s head and just stay there, letting you soak in the essence of what an inverted face might look like and provide a whole new set of issues for your psychiatrist.
Speaking of issues, how about them boss battles? I’ll tell you about them; they blow. Hard. Though fighting the endless waves of regular and spicy grunts is actually entertaining, fighting bosses get monotonous after roughly 10 seconds. The first time a magma thing pops out, you’ll probably think “aww yeah, it’s on!” Mere moments later, however, you’ll discover it is indeed not “on.” On the contrary, you’ll only find pleasure here if you like mindless repetition: dodge, lunge, slice, dodge, lunge slice, dodge, lunge, sli—you get the idea.
In what should have easily been the most exciting and totally epic moment of the game when you are brought face-to-face with a Sentinel, you are in reality brought face-to-foot; all you get to do is attack the thing’s feet until it flies away with you attached and then you get to dodge debris until all the brutality is done for you when you land. Lame. Disgustingly lame. Shame on you, Raven, shame on you.
Also, possible spoiler, but when you fight Deadpool on top of the factory, don’t jump. Ever.
The reason I’m being so incredibly hard on these few points is because the rest of the game is so much fun. Though the game may be a bit on the easy side (I never once was concerned about dying, just how can I ruin the next guy’s day with these freakin’ sweet claws of mine), there’s so much good going for it. Like how the Spider-Man 2 video game made you feel like Spidey flinging around everywhere, this game makes you feel like Wolverine, using your claws to do everything—besides open doors, evidently—from pulling crates to cutting off legs. The unlockable costumes inexplicably make the game worth a second playthrough and the mutagens and leveling-up mechanic make me feel like I actually have some control over what sort of killer I want my Wolverine to be.
The game also gets one thing absolutely right that needs to carried over to every other game from here on out: stat tracking. Just like how Steam will track your quantifiable achievements, this game will also tell you how many enemies left you have to dismember or set on fire. Knowing I only have 200 more enemies to kill to get my trophy actually makes me want to play more, as opposed to feeling like I might have 200-300 more so that I might hit 2000 kills, which kind of just makes me want to quit forever.
All in all, I’d say I really enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Even with the extra development time garnered from the film’s delay, though, there are still bugs, gameplay issues, slowdowns, and quirks, like how streaming textures sometimes load, disappear, and never come back. And in spite of how the (cheesy and poorly woven) story jumps back and forth between different time periods, your stats still steadily progress. However, I feel like it is more than okay to overlook these issues and still find some time to invest in the game. I haven’t had such hack ‘n slash fun since God of War II and maybe if Raven had just a few more months of development, this game might have reached that level of polish and pure epicness, but instead, it’s just a good promise of might have been and what (hopefully) will be.