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X2: Wolverine's Revenge

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:  Gene Pool Software
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Custom Soundtracks
Date Posted: 

6-28-03

Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular of Marvel’s X-men. Like most superheroes, Wolverine has never been in a good video game, although the X-men arcade game was an exception. This trend of bad superhero games seemed to be on the decline after Activision released the Spiderman: The Movie game. This game took a superhero and movie license and turned it into a great game. Wolverine’s Revenge faces similar circumstances with the release of the movie X2 and certainly has at least the same amount of popularity as Spiderman. However, this game falls flat on its face. The concept of the game seems great; after all, who wouldn’t want to control Wolverine on an adventure and face some of his greatest foes? Sadly, the game does not measure up to the standard of a mediocre game and we, the gaming public, are cursed with yet another bad superhero game.

This game does not follow the movie X2 in any form. Instead, Wolverine’s Revenge presents a completely new story. The first stage is a flashback of Wolverine breaking out of the Weapon X facility. After that, you learn that he has 48 hours before a “safeguard virus” kills Wolverine. This leads you to return to the Weapon X facility to figure out how to stay alive. Throughout the game, you are helped by Professor X (voiced by Patrick Stewart) and face some classic Wolverine villains, including Sabretooth, Magneto, Lady Deathstrike, and Wendigo.

Many superhero games have problems implementing the character’s powers. Wolverine’s Revenge is no exception. The basic Wolverine powers (claws and healing) are done well. The claws can be extracted and retracted by the touch of a button. While extended, the claws make fighting through people fairly easy. However, you cannot heal with the claws out. Healing can only be done with the claws retracted. Wolverine’s extended senses are done poorly. By pressing and holding a button, the screen changes into some sort of infrared view. You can see green scents floating in the air and you can see recent footprints. This also puts you in “stealth mode.” In stealth mode, you can move around quietly and can kill enemies by sneaking up behind them. While this is a really great concept, it isn’t implemented correctly. First, you have to hold down the stealth button instead of just toggling the power on and off. This makes it tedious and annoying. Secondly, it simply pales in comparison to some other games that feature stealth. The enemy AI simply isn’t suited for a stealth game. The only things you have to worry about in stealth mode is either stepping into a camera or walking directly in front of an enemy. There are no fixed patrol routes, no noise, and no guard intelligence. Basically, if you play the levels enough, you can figure out how and where to use stealth to get through without ever having to really fight. The guard AI concerning stealth is really annoying. If you’re sighted, don’t even bother trying to hide since they somehow magically know where you are at all times. That’s assuming that the level provides you with a place to hide. There usually are none. While speaking of enemy AI, it simply does not exist. Guards stand there until they see you, then they shoot. They don’t act intelligent at all and are basically easy prey. The only way they can beat you is if they gang up on you or sport some heavy weaponry (like a helicopter or a gun turret). Lets put it this way: the enemy soldiers literally will walk through a minefield and blow themselves up if they see you on the other side. I watched this happen in at least two different levels.

Combat is really simple. Walk up to the enemy, beat senseless, and then finish him off. Basically, once you pound the daylights out of an enemy, you see a “strike” message on the bottom of the screen. By pressing a button combination, Wolverine performs a cool finishing move in a mini cut-scene format. Think this is good? It is...for the first five minutes. See, the entire game turns into an almost simplistic beat-em-up game. Sadly, the combat system takes absolutely no skill and grows monotonous after about five minutes. The finishing moves look cool, but they become extremely repetitive. There are combos that can be performed when surrounded by enemies, but this system is very quirky. You have to press a button when “strike” appears, but the indicator never flashes when it seems like it should. The combat system also lacks a block or counter system. If this system would have been more complex, this game might capture interests long enough for many to finish it. The simplicity just makes this game boring.

Graphics are not pushing any boundaries. Wolverine’s Revenge looks like a decent game of this generation, but it isn’t spectacular. Explosions look fake, characters are pretty generic, and most of the superheroes/villains have really strange looking faces. I mean, it looks like they all were beaten in the face with a baseball bat or something. Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t hideous (except for the character faces), but it isn’t anything to write home about.

 

The in-game music is horrible. There are times where I don’t even notice it, and this game sort of requires music since it becomes very boring. The music doesn’t match the game action, and basically gets ignored. Thankfully, the developers utilize custom soundtracks for this game. It makes it much easier to play this game with some good music in the background instead of the in-game score. The sound effects are good. The claws sound excellent and the explosions sound good. Voices are either hit or miss. They have Mark Hamill as Wolverine’s voice and Patrick Stewart as Professor X’s voice. Both are excellent and serve their purposes well.

One fun part of this game is collecting all of the secret items. You can unlock all of Wolverine’s classical costumes as well as Cerebro files on the major characters. These secrets are scattered throughout the game and give you something to play for. It isn’t much, but it’s something to warrant a little bit of replay value.

Highs:

  • Wolverine and all of his powers
  • Custom soundtrack
  • Multiple costumes

Lows:

  • Combat system
  • Stealth system
  • Controls
  • Boring game design (walk, kill, walk, kill, end of stage).

Final Verdict: 

The main part where this game falls flat on its face is the entire game style. Wolverine’s Revenge becomes very boring. All of the stages are basically start-walk-kill-walk-kill-walk-kill-kill-boss. This gets extremely boring extremely quickly. If done right, a game like this could be great. Don’t get me wrong, this game isn’t bad. It just feels...incomplete (perhaps rushed to launch at the same time as X2?). Hopefully, designers learn from their mistakes with this game and bring us a Wolverine game with a better system. Sadly, without a properly implemented stealth feature, no intelligent enemy AI, and a poor combat system, Wolverine’s Revenge is a rental-at-best title.

Overall Score: 6.8

 


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