Genre: 3rd Person Comic Book Action
Developer: Gene pool Software & Gray Matter
Date: April 15, 2003
For the past few years, movies based on comics have been huge blockbuster hits. Spawn, Spiderman, Dare-Devil, and this summer The Hulk. All of which have brought about the developed of action figures and video games based on them. Recently X2, or X-Men 2, was released in theatres and with its release came many new action figures based on the characters of the movie as well as the multi-platform title Wolverine’s Revenge.
Adding to their award winning repertoire, publisher Activision decided to publish Wolverine’s Revenge, the latest addition to the genre of comic based video games. These games are made to appeal to younger people roughly between the ages of 7 and 15, that’s not to say that the game won’t appeal to people on either end of this spectrum, its just that that is who the game is geared towards. The great thing about a game like this is that it can ride on it’s title alone, for every kid that likes X-Men is going to want a game related to it for his/her GameCube or PC. For a game that is supposed to appeal to kids, that’s fine, but it is not the best of ideas to have your game ride on the title and deliver poor gameplay and graphics.
Initial impressions for this game were quite poor as most of the screenshots available on the internet were from the console, which meant they were lower resolution. The low res. images made the game look quite bad, and were a complete turn off for this reviewer. This however likely would not deter the target audience; considering their age, it is not likely that they go searching for the screens of the latest games on the internet. A minor deterrent, it didn’t affect the overall score of the game, just a little note.
Installation was quite short and small; which was nice, as most games these days take a while to install and are well over 1 gigabyte, this one weighs in at just over 620 megabytes. After running the game for the first time, it was immediately apparent that the screenshots on the internet had been deceiving. The clever animated menu and utilization of “Bink Video” for the cinematics was very beneficial to the game. The lack of a tutorial was a disappointment especially considering the age group in which this game is based. Many children and young teens unless familiar with games like Tomb Raider or Crash Bandicoot may have a hard time adjusting to the style of gameplay that is Wolverine’s Revenge. A tutorial is something every game should have, because it shows the players how to navigate through each scenario efficiently making the game a more enjoyable experience.
A limited video and sound option menu was rather annoying. Although the system requirements were far from being steep, it is still much easier to tweak a game for optimal performance when you have access to the settings in which you plan on tweaking.
After setup and configuration, it was quite easy to start a new game and get going. The first level starts off with Wolverine escaping from Weapons Facility X. A victim of twisted experiments, the character takes up the role of Wolverine and becomes immediately immersed in fighting with nearby guards. There are many different attack combinations that Wolverine can perform, and as the game progresses, the player becomes familiar with each and every one of them. Along with the attack combo’s Wolverine has two special abilities. The ability to enter a “heightened senses” mode allows Wolverine to spot nearby hazards such as land-mines. Also, indicated by a meter in the top of the screen, each time Wolverine is hit/hurt, his rage increases to the point where it causes him to go into a “feral rage” enabling him to take out large numbers of enemies, resulting in minimal loss of health.
The AI in this game was simply pathetic, as is the intelligence of most enemies in the movies these games are based on. If it can even be called artificial intelligence, the presence of it here, or lack there of, was enough to deter any tech enthusiast. The enemies are amazingly dumb; they don’t pursue Wolverine around corners, and stand out in the open while reloading. The AI in this game is incapable of making rational decisions making it a rather weak opponent. To add insult to injury, the skill of this AI goes from being simple to nearly impossible with certain boss characters.
This was actually quite a long game, especially for its small install of 620 Mb. Spanning over six acts, the game covers Wolverine’s quest to escape Weapons Facility X and exact his revenge upon his tormentors. The diversity in models for these tormentors was rather weak as all soldiers looked the same, as well as the lack of selection in civilian models.
As a console port, the visuals in Wolverine’s Revenge were simply average. Most console games lack in detailed visuals and rely simply on gameplay and that is exactly what this game does. Player models and environments are similar to those of the first few Tomb Raider games. With regards to the video, the only possible options in the video menu for the game were to change the resolution and turn shadows on and off. This was because if the player had been able to turn the detail down anymore, the game would have looked pathetic, and companies cannot sell games with pathetic visuals.
The sound for this game along with the music was actually quite impressive. A rich combination of punch and kick sounds were a welcomed addition to the game. An excellent use of bass frequencies in the hits made the fights quite exciting. The games musical score was also a beneficial addition to the game as it added a real sense of atmosphere for the player to get involved in. In today’s video games, it is essential for developers to create the right music for the game in order for the players to truly get immersed into the game. In the case of Wolverine’s Revenge, Gray Matter and Gene pool Software really delivered.
Included with the game is a bonus features menu. This menu is loaded with all sorts of goodies, from different skins for Wolverine to a gallery of concept art. There is even a challenge mode that allows you to fight certain characters for practice once you get their dog tags. The Jukebox and the character database are also key to the bonus features as they provide access to the excellent musical score as well as information on the various characters throughout the game.
Overall, Wolverine’s Revenge was a very solid effort by Gene pool Software and Gray matter. They took a movie and developed a fine piece of software out of it, and that is what it takes to make a strong computer game these days. Like movies based on books, with games based on movies, the movie is almost always better. It doesn’t seem so in this case, as Wolverine’s Revenge delivers a unique arcade style fighting with a science fiction story to create a truly memorable game.