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X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Score: 88%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
It isn't often that I get to say this, so I will savor this moment for as long as I can. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Uncaged Edition is a better game than it is a movie. The team behind the game is Raven Software who are responsible for Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men: Legends, so they know a thing or two about how to make a good comic book videogame.

I honestly was not expecting to be blown away by the graphics when I first put it in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The opening level takes place in a jungle and it gives Uncharted some stiff competition for lush jungle scenery. The PS3 and 360 versions of Wolverine are known as the "Uncaged Editions" because of the violence and gore that earn their "M" rating.

I think it is great when a developer can embrace a mature rating and really make certain moments stand out. X-Men Origins: Wolverine stands out by showing how many limbs Wolverine can cut off. Arms and legs go soaring through the air with a beautiful crimson tail. The glint of adamantium that peaks through as Wolverine takes more damage is truly impressive. The developers spent a lot of time creating a new regenerative system that restores missing pieces of Wolverine's physique when he gets hurt and it was time well spent because it adds an extra layer to immersing yourself in the role of the berserker Canadian.

One of the few things that both X-Men Origins: Wolverine the game and the movie have in common is a terrific soundtrack. I love the ambient and environmental music that plays as you lay waste to wave after wave of bad guys. It makes you believe that you are a mutant bad-ass and music doesn't do that too often, so it is nice to know that someone felt it was important.

Action games have a hard time creating a cool character and universe to trounce around in, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn't have to. It has the perfect fit for a game about dismembering as many soldiers as possible with its main character Wolverine (a.k.a. James Howlett, a.k.a. Logan, a.k.a. Weapon X, a.k.a. Hugh Jackman) and his origin story.

The story follows the events of the movie, but goes more in depth with certain sections and fleshes out some of the more... confusing tidbits. I would like to say that the story is good, but I know the developers didn't have a choice in the ultimate direction of the story, but what they were able to take liberties with works really well. Wolverine travels to a jungle with Team X and becomes a one-man army. Then he goes to the Weapon X facility under William Stryker's persuasion and becomes a one-man army. After that, he goes to investigate Project WideAwake in the SouthWest, meets Bolivar Trask and becomes a one-man army. (Notice a pattern yet?)

The overall structure is very traditional at heart. You play level after level killing baddies and upgrading different abilities. There are collectible items scattered throughout each level and as you get more, it either unlocks new abilities or bonus outfits. I think it is worth noting that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is full of bugs and graphical glitches. They didn't ruin my experience overall, but they did happen. There were times when I fell through the stage for no reason, an invisible wall would appear directly in between me and the actual path I needed to take, and not the least of which was when it would not prompt me to press a button to interact with a key moment in the story. I reloaded to the previous checkpoint or restarted my PS3 and everything was fine, but I hope that someone was paying attention and has a fix coming soon.

The real joy is getting to be in the middle of a group of bad guys and tear them apart. The combat system is fairly deep with your standard heavy and light attacks. You can also throw enemies, but the best thing about being Wolverine is his lunge attack. When you lock onto an enemy, you can lunge toward them and stick them with your soldier skewers or use it to build a combo with a mix of heavy or light attacks. All of the actions and animations are pretty brutal and the ease in which Wolverine shrugs off multiple homicides makes it all the more worthwhile.

The best description for how violent X-Men Origins: Wolverine truly is would be the inclusion of a Quick Kill button. When you grab an enemy, you can opt for a quick kill which rewards you with some of the most graphic displays of mutant aggression I have ever seen. The ways he kills different enemies are unique (and awesome!), so I encourage you to do it as often as possible to see how creative Wolverine can get.

The only enemies that can't be quick killed are bosses. It wouldn't be a true action game without boss sequences. The expected characters from the film show up like Sabretooth and Gambit, but then there are some unique monsters and government experiments to give Weapon X a run for his money. On a first attempt, most fights take a little longer than they should, but by the time you fight them again or replay the level, it becomes much easier and I thought experimenting with different strategies was fun.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is surprisingly longer than expected. Anywhere between 10 -12 hours is what it will take to get through the story on Normal. After beating it once, you unlock Hard, but your leveled-up character doesn't transfer to a new game. So, if you are working toward some trophies, you should get all of them without starting a new game.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is lucky that it has a main character that translates into a game so well. He has indestructible claws that can fight anything and a healing factor that existed long before games like Halo made it standard conventions. No single enemy could give a true challenge (except for bosses), so the developers did the next best thing, they decided to send an entire army. At points, the action more closely resembles Dynasty Warriors than God of War, but even though I killed well over 1500 enemies, I still wanted to go back for more. Between frantic fist-fights and light puzzle elements, I never thought Wolverine was too hard, just fun. Though somewhere around the 6 or 7 hour mark, it seems to run out of steam and starts repeating itself, but by then, I didn't really mind too much.

Game Mechanics:
As mentioned earlier, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a lot in common with God of War. (Square) is used for light attacks and (Triangle) is meant for the heavy attack. Logan can also lock on with (R1) and lunge with (L1). Block is located on (L2) and you will most certainly need it for certain sequences, so get acquainted with it.

The only honest complaint I have about the controls is the camera. Through 80% of the game, it works fine, but sometimes it fixates on a certain enemy and it won't let you change directions. It becomes frustrating because you can't see safe areas and you are forced to dodge blindly toward the camera. Along with the bugs mentioned earlier, I hope this is an easy fix.

The unlockable stuff is pretty cool. There is a training room where you can fight other Wolverines to basically strip them of their suit so you can wear it. There are some other little touches that make it feel polished all around like Wolverine factoids during loading screens. It is obvious that Raven Software took pride in making X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I just wish that it didn't have to be tied to such a mess of a movie. I hope that if they do another game like this, they can have free reign to work within the license as they see fit, because X-Men Origins: Wolverine proves that movie games can surpass the movie they are based on and still provide a hours of fun and entertainment.

So come on, bub, if you want to unleash your berserker rage, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is your best choice for mutant retribution.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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