Developer/Publisher: Raven Software / Activision
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language
Available On: PS3, Xbox360, PC (version reviewed)
Genre: Action-Adventure
Number of Players: 1
Strong Points: Combat is satisfying and has some nice variety; strong audio; plenty of “whoa...” moments; it\'s better than the movie
Weak Points: Narrative is disjointed and confusing; the game is still rather easy, even on Hard mode; graphics are a mixed bag at times
Moral Warnings: Blood and gore effects are over the top; various ways to violently kill others, including dismemberment; some language and crude words

Editor\'s Note: The next-gen and PC versions have the M-rating while the Wii/PS2/PSP/NDS version were made by a different company. Those are not the same game I\'m reviewing, so just a heads up if you plan on purchasing/renting a copy.

Pop quiz. How\'d you like the new Wolverine flick? Yeah, me neither. So you think a subpar movie would get a subpar game too, huh? Wrong. After my time with Origins, it\'s clear that Raven Software really dug into who Wolverine was, what he can do, and how cool he can look doing it. So before you click the back button, why not give our favorite yellow spandex mutant the benefit of the doubt and see why this is head over heels better than a majority of the movie-based games, and an experience that is even better than the movie.

So Wolverine, aka Logan. A mutant with a shady past that can automatically regenerate from any wound, both big and small, has a skeleton made of an indestructible metal (dubbed “adamantium” in the comics), and heightened senses. Oh, and he has large adamantium claws that come out both of his knuckles. Playing to these strengths, Raven has built the game around Wolverine and shows off what kind of beast this character really is.

Like any other standard fare action game, attacks are performed with the face buttons, using a mix of weak and strong attacks, grabs and a fun lunge move filling out the repertoire. (That is, if you\'re using a controller. The keyboard setup for the PC version is strange at first glance, but it\'s customizable if you aren\'t using a gamepad.) These moves can be chained in a way that branches into further attacks, either dealing more damage or knocking enemies up or away. I really enjoyed how many options the combat system has, whether it be grabbing a lunging enemy by his foot and bouncing his body off the ground before you spin him around the room by his feet, or even throwing an enemy away and lunging into his ribcage in mid-air before he hits the ground. There\'s also a decent amount of air attacks from grabs to slams, that, other than defying gravity, are fun to pull off.

Besides basic combos, there are other ways of killing an enemy in seconds. One way would be from environmental kills which includes throwing an enemy into computer terminals for a nasty shock, or impaling them on forklifts, broken tree branches or whatever is nearby at the time. The second way is by wearing down them down enough (or if they\'re weak to begin with) and using an Auto-Finisher. Auto-Finishers provide a cinematic slow motion close-up of Logan (viciously) dispatching whoever is in his grasp. These finishers could range from removing limbs in one fell strike, ripping a robotic arm off and beating the soldier to death with it, or even punching his fist straight through someone\'s chest.

As you kill enemies, you\'ll be rewarded with experience which goes to unlocking Rage abilities (super attacks that are refilled by killing enemies and breaking objects for rage orbs) and upgrading Wolverine in various ways (e.g. damage, altering special attacks, quicker health regeneration) so you can play how you see fit. A lot of these don\'t really impact gameplay as much as I would\'ve liked. The health system utilizes his healing factor to full extent, so all damage will be regenerated, given enough time. There is a threshold where Logan can\'t take damage or his organs will be hit, which means game over. (And yes, it does look pretty awesome to see Wolverine regenerate in real time.) But as the game is pretty easy to beat, the only game overs most players will be getting is from cheap deaths during platforming sections.

Not that there\'s many of those. To help break up the action, there is a handful of simple "put A here and activate B" or "push C there to jump up to reach D". It\'s fairly simple stuff, but when you are stumped, whether it be with some of the puzzles or if you\'re lost in the level, you can activate Wolverine\'s Feral Senses to help guide you. The pacing feels fairly spot on, so you are able to get breathers after slaughtering a room full of high-tech soldiers in under 20 seconds. A mix of the combat and puzzles can be found in the boss battles. At first it\'s waiting for the right time to attack, but progressing further brings you to fights that require quick time events (which are cleverly used in some puzzles as well). I have no problem with these since they are far between, but one issue I have with the boss battles is that a lot of the earlier bosses repeat. Do I really need to rip the head off a elemental golem this many times before he realizes Logan doesn\'t wanna be friends?

Do me a favor and don\'t buy this for your kids. And some of you may want to think twice about buying it for yourself too. With that out of the way, let\'s get into why. Blood is heavily used during battle, which gushes and splashes and the screen also gets a nice dose on it during messy kills. Gory dismemberment and decapitation is used a lot, the numerous finishers can and will look downright savage, arms and legs are broken, and heads are blown off using the enemies own weapons. Environmental kills include impaling, burning, electrocution, explosions, and dismemberment through giant fans. Enemies are stabbed, slashed, sliced, punched, and can be lunged into. We see Wolverine take an inhuman amount of punishment and can watch his body regenerate from his adamanatium skeleton on up (guts and muscles included). There is some crude language and profanity here and there (“s---” and “a--” mainly), but it isn\'t used that much. Some tight clothing is shown on female characters as well. Mystique and some mutant female enemies don\'t wear clothing, but look like they have a skin-tight suits which, intentional or not, has at least some sex appeal, so it\'s worth watching out for.

Following very loosely to the movie, Origins reveals more of what went on in Stryker\'s team in Africa, and Logan\'s path of revenge to Sabretooth. Raven decided to add in some extra story for good measure, like chasing Gambit for info (which ends in a fairly spectacular battle) or a factory that is building Sentinels. The Sentinel battle didn\'t needed to be added, but it gives the game some extra content from the comics, which is neat, and in no way feels like filler. The real problem with the story, though, is its constant back and forth with flashbacks. This makes trying to understand the story that much more difficult as you are given bits and pieces and they are give in a fashion that provides no real cohesiveness. After a few hours, I stopped trying to piece it all together and got back to cutting dudes up.

Origins utilizes the Unreal 3 engine which brings some detailed character models and environments, but it also has it\'s fair share of texture problems (pop in, or low resolution textures that stick out like a sore thumb) and some unsightly bugs. It doesn\'t look bad by any means (the blood and claw effects being some of the best I\'ve seen in a game), but it can be inconsistent at times. You could go from an ancient tower with lush mountains in the background to a snow base with flat gray textures. The voice acting is done quite well, from the lead character (which usually has Hugh Jackman grunting and growling a lot) down to the standard foot soldier. They did use the main actors from the movies, and I really enjoyed the performances, with most of them being strong. The blood sound effects can be a bit excessive at times, as one gut slash can sound like gallons of blood or an impalement can sound pretty squishy. And while it doesn\'t detract from the gameplay, it did make the game feel a bit corny at times.

While it does have some rough edges, Wolverine is easily one of the best movie-based games that I\'ve played in a long time. Not only does it surpass the movie in a lot of ways, it\'s a game that has plenty of polish and does Wolverine justice. The fact that it\'s also a very fun guilty pleasure doesn\'t hurt either. I can\'t really recommend this as a purchase until a price drop since it\'s an easy game that isn\'t that replayable, but if you\'re looking for something in the next-gen vein of God of War or are a big fan of Wolverine, I would easily suggest renting it. If excessive blood and violence isn\'t your thing, or if the appropriateness section sounded too over the top for you (which it is), I would say look for your Wolverine fix elsewhere. This game does not hold back.

-- Jonathan "Keero" Andrews

Appropriateness Score: 76%

Violence 0/10
Language 4/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 8/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

Game Score: 78%

Game Play 17/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound/Music 7/10
Stability/Polish 4/5
Controls/Interface 4/5

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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