How would you feel if a sinister agency implanted an adamantium skeleton into your body and endowed you with various powers including retractable blades that shoot out of your knuckles? It might sound kind of cool, but the novelty would soon wear off. Imagine going to the loo while you were getting used to your Freddie Kruger blades. Anyway, that’s roughly what happened to Logan – better to known to us as Wolverine.
I still don’t quite get the Wolverine name, I can’t help thinking the guys at Marvel (after a long night in the pub) tried to find a new animal-based superhero. Bats and spiders worked well, so why not that other fierce creature of the wild. Yes the majestic wolverine, well not exactly majestic, more like a weasel on steroids.
If you aren’t familiar with the gulo gulo, to give it its Latin moniker, it’s a member of the weasel family, and looks quite cuddly. However, it’s a carnivore with a badass reputation, and weighs up to 50lbs, which is about the weight of a G5. So if you can imagine being savaged by a G5-sized weasel, you’ll know to avoid the buggers in the unlikely event you ever come across one.
The game begins with Mr Wolverine being paraded in front of evil boffins just after his transformation is complete. Remarking on the marvel they have created, barely human; practically indestructible, they accidentally left the mike on in the viewing room. On hearing the less than flattering comments, Wolverine gets a bit cheesed off and vows to come and get them. The rest is simple to figure out, but still fun to play.
The controls are rather fussy – the camera tracks your movements and your direction is in relation to it. So rather than being in a fixed position behind you, you point the camera, and running forward means you run directly away from the cameras position. This isn’t so bad, but when you run backwards, you run towards the camera – so you don’t know where you’re going. You get used to it after a bit, but it does make movements in tight corners awkward because the camera won’t let you turn in tight spots. If you can get over that irritant, you’ll enjoy the game.
Apart from his knuckle blades, Wolverine has special Wolverine senses. The game is designed so that you use these a lot, and it adds an interesting twist. With the special-senses button held, your sense of smell and vision is heightened. Of course representing smell in a computer game must have been a challenge, but it’s handled well.
Particularly bad (or pungent) enemies have a kind of luminous Bisto-kid effect with clouds of green smell visible. It’s sensible to check your Wolverine senses before turning any corners, because you will often see the whiff of danger hanging in the air.
Even superheroes get damaged in their fights, but Wolverine regenerates his energy after a short rest. There are also power-ups around when big baddies show up (which they do with alarming regularity), and almost act as an early warning that something is going to go down. Retracting those blades will speed recovery, so don’t run around with them extended all the time.
On the subject of blood and gore, this one might be a bit much for the youngest players. This one is no worse than average, but if you aren’t familiar with the level of violence in today’s games, you may be a bit surprised and possibly appalled. So this isn’t so much one for the kids stocking – more for your own enjoyment.
If you do manage to master any of those special moves, you’re rewarded with various treats. There are also hidden comic books that give you access to things in the special-features section of the game. Generally, rewards aren’t too exciting other than the new moves you acquire. But for those who like to play games until they have found every extra, hidden area and bonus level this game has lots of checkboxes for things to find.
I can’t say this game really blew me away, but a lot of effort has been put into making it enjoyable. It’s obviously a big budget game, with Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart doing the voices of the main two characters.
It is, however, a movie spin-off game, which is very often the kiss of death. This one does manage to be a good game with enough twists to make it interesting; it doesn’t quite make it a great game, though.
Min specs: Mac OS X 10.2.6, 733MHz G4 processor or faster; 256MB RAM, 1.7GB hard-drive space; 3D Graphics Acceleration required (minimum ATI Radeon or NVidia GeForce 2 series card); AGP video card with 32MB of video memory (VRAM).