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Fantastic Four

Platform(s): GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Seven Studios / Beenox
Release Date: June 28, 2005


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Xbox Review - 'Fantastic Four'

by Jordan Van Nest on July 23, 2005 @ 3:51 a.m. PDT

Fantastic Four's storyline follows the Fantastic Four movie plot and expands the adventures by letting players stretch, control fire and use invisibility and brute force to defeat evil super-villains in new environments and familiar comic book locales. Challenged to master each super hero’s individual powers and combine them to level even more devastating attacks, players must battle the never-before-seen enemies and the ultimate evil – Doctor Doom -- to save the human race from disaster.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: 7 Studios/Beenox/Torus Games
Release Date: June 28, 2005

Xbox | GameCube | GBA | PC | PlayStation 2

The legacy of Fantastic Four has quite a history. Though most everyone is aware of the recent movie release of the same name, some may be surprised to find that Fantastic Four was originally a comic created by Marvel Comics about forty years ago. Though the series has never gained as much popularity as other similar comics (X-men for example), the adventures of the Fantastic Four have recently become known to most all movie goers, and looks to soon invade the gaming world as well. So, how well does Fantastic Four represent the movie? And can it actually leap not only the movie to game hurdle but comic to game hurdle as well? One would think it difficult at the least…

For those of you who have never ventured into the world of the Fantastic Four, the story goes something like this. While on a research mission investigating a strange cloud of energy, a group of astronauts are blasted by an extremely powerful cosmic energy, giving them all superpowers. It seems the energy has warped each member of the team a little differently however, and, much to their horror, each team member slowly realizes what has happened as they awake back in their ship. Reed has literally become “rubber man”, capable of stretching his limbs and body to extreme lengths and morphing into various shapes. Sue quickly realizes that she has been gifted with the power of invisibility. Johnny has trouble keeping the room around him intact, as he is a constantly burning fireball, capable of blasting enemies with streams of fire. And of course, we can’t forget Ben Grimm, “the hulk” of the Fantastic Four. Burly, monstrous, and angry, Ben is capable of making the Earth shake and launching cars into opponents like they were rocks. With one blast of cosmic ray, four team members are pulled together, and begin the journey as the Fantastic Four.

One of the main features of Fantastic Four, and reminiscent of previous games such as X-Men Legends, is the ability to switch between each of the four members of your team, during anytime in the game. All it takes is a simple press of the D-pad, and you can instantly switch between the characters. This is especially useful when a new type of enemy approaches, and you’d like to utilize a different character’s strength. The beauty of it is that all four characters, while individually powerful, making the perfect combination. Say you’re up against an array of enemies, you may want to quickly switch to Reed and take advantage of his super stretchy arms. Or say you came across a car or other large object. Why not switch to Ben and send it flying into a crowd of baddies?

Another interesting feature of Fantastic Four is the ability to upgrade your characters and buy new moves. As the game progresses, you will gather orbs that will allow you to improve on each characters devastating attacks. I really like the idea of this option, however, I don’t think it really brings as much variety to the game as the developers had hoped. Basically, you are limited to upgrading powers which you have always had, instead of maybe buying new, unique powers. This makes the game dull after a little while, as you are constantly performing the same moves over and over. Your reward for progressing further in the game? Adding extra damage to these attacks.

As with several other games, Fantastic Four uses mini-puzzles to allow the player to solve tasks in the game, such as unlocking a door. You will be prompted to complete one of these simple mini-puzzles every time you attempt to do things such as hack into computer terminals, weld leaky pipes, and push piles of rubble aside. I definitely like this idea, however, I was disappointed to discover that most all of the mini games consist of the player either rotating the analog stick or pounding a certain button until he succeeds. While they’re only mini-games and shouldn’t really be too difficult, I still would have liked to see a little bit more difficulty or variety.

However, one of the biggest problems with Fantastic Four is the lack of variety. Even though it includes such options as rapid switching between characters and the ability to upgrade each of their powers, this game is still beat-em-up at heart. For example, while each member has different attacks and powers that are better suited for certain situations, there really isn’t very much variety in the fighting system. It’s fairly easy to compare the powers of each character- they each have a ranged attack, area attack, and powerful knock out move for example. Looking at this however, you will quickly notice that the fighting system as a whole is just not filled with variety as one might have originally thought.

In addition, there are other problems plaguing our four superheroes. One would have to be the targeting system. To put it quite simply, the targeting system is bad. It definitely becomes a chore to even try to lock on to an enemy, and once you do, it’s difficult to even cycle through the various enemies that are before you. In essence, you are basically reduced to running around a room, performing the same attack blindly, hoping that you are causing some damage to someone. There are other, smaller problems with the game as well. For example, the game is fairly short. However, perhaps this was a good thing, as a longer Fantastic Four would probably only seem more monotonous, with less and less variety. While Fantastic Four is not a bad game, it does often feel like you’re just running from room to room, smashing everything and everyone in sight. While this isn’t always a bad thing, level after level of this repetitiveness can get dull.

Graphically, this game isn’t the best, and it’s not the worst. One good thing graphically of course is the ability to use your environment against your opponents. Throwing large objects at those you hate most has never failed to satisfy, however, the repetitive layouts and just overall game play of this game, might.

Fantastic Four does boast voice acting from the original cast of the movie, allowing fans to feel more connected to the game. Other than that, the sound is nothing to really be proud of- standard sound effects and a standard soundtrack are all you will find here.

For a title which has just recently burst onto the scenes, I think Fantastic Four has done quite well. While it must have faced enormous pressure during the production and subsequent release of the title, the developers must feel proud knowing they leaped the movie to game barrier and actually created a worthwhile game. While it’s definitely not a must own for all gamers, those who enjoyed the movie or the comics will probably want to check all of their favorite characters out and pick up a copy of this game. The power of the Fantastic Four will surely not disappoint.

Score: 7.2/10

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