Backlogged - "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009)
Licensed video games are generally awful. Licensed super-hero games are generally even worse. For every Spider-Man 2 there's a Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, for every The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, there's... well, a lot of shitty superhero games, let's just put it that way. Don't believe me? Look at the list of different games involving superpowered antics and weep for the lost potential. On top of this, games based on movies are generally even worse, and if you don't believe me, then you haven't suffered through enough terrible games yet. So, it stands to reason that a game based on a movie that's adapted from a comic is going to be pure shit. Which is exactly what the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine is. Even when some of the good reviews hit, I never quite got around to touching this one because of the stigma attached to it.
Imagine my surprise when it turns out that I was a complete dolt for not giving it a shot five years ago
What Is It?
Raven Software created this hack-and-slash title to coincide with the film of the same name, which according to Rotten Tomatoes, I'm statistically one of the only people to enjoy. But instead of crafting a soulless cash-grab centered around the franchise's most popular character (see: X2: Wolverine's Revenge), the solid developer decided to take a risk and create something more in line with the bloody, visceral comics. As a result, everything in this game is insanely violent. Like, to the point where Kratos might blush at some of the shit ol' Wolvy ends up doing here. Don't be shocked to see complete dismemberment, jokes being cracked after brutally eviscerating an enemy, and ridiculous acts like jumping atop a helicopter, yanking out the pilot and grinding his head into the blade. It was definitely a risky move to tie-in such a brutal game with a PG-13 movie. Aside from committing endearingly heinous acts of violence, players learn a wealth of combos and special moves, on top of participating in the occasional quick-time events, solving simple puzzles, and engaging in relatively easy platforming.
Is It Any Good?
There are points in this game, yes, that remind me of the God of War series, but let's face it, every brawler released after 2004 owes the classic a certain debt. And yeah, the experience is a little on the short side, with some large enemy types repeated slightly too much. But to be honest, none of this ever really bothered me, because the game as a cohesive unit is too fucking fun. Not once did I feel like I was playing a re-skin of some other game with Wolverine as the protagonist; from the impressive regeneration effects to the raw brutality to the fluid methods of killing, Raven really convinced me that I was playing as the prolific mutant. Most enemies are cut into like butter before exploding into geysers of limbs and sticky blood, almost like a less extreme version of the 2010 Splatterhouse. That's not mention the ridiculous feats players will directly control, from the aforementioned helicopter stunt, to outrunning a tunnel of water that also happens to be propelling large military vehicles at you. On top of all this, and the wealth of customization Wolverine can undergo, the game is pretty visually impressive, especially for a 2009 title. The environments are varied and interesting, and the character models themselves are very impressive, maintaining impressive detail even when their limbs are being thrown across the large arenas present.
Worth The Wait?
As I said before, I'm kicking myself for not checking this out when it was first released. It's bloody, trashy fun in the best way possible. Not only that, but the hilarious in-game physics result in some of the funniest kills you'll ever perpetrate in a game, with some enemies inexplicably getting sent flying twenty feet into the air, like some sort of blood-spouting rocket ship. Sure, it's not perfect, but most games aren't, and for the low price you can get it for now, you'd be a bit silly to not give this one a try. Much like some of my favorite action titles of the last generation, such as Wet and Stranglehold, it's a non-stop thrill ride whose minor flaws never get in the way of an ultimately enjoyable and fresh experience. If you like fun action games and aren't too squeamish, give it a try; if you're a Marvel fan looking for Wolverine finally being done some justice in a video game, then it's a must-buy.
Final Impression: A hilariously gory romp that I should have played sooner.