Gamespy Review of Wolverine

X-Men Gamers won't like the Gamespy review of the new Wolverine's Revenge game. "The overly hairy Wolverine gives gamers an adamantium one-fingered salute."

Riding the wave of hype surrounding the brand-new X-Men 2 motion picture comes X2: Wolverine's Revenge from Activision for the PlayStation 2. What could have been a great 3D action film tie-in ultimately translates into a seen-it-all-before game with some pretty serious gameplay problems. Activision managed to retain Patrick Stewart for the voice of Prof. X and Mark Hamill -- yes, Luke Skywalker -- for the voice of Wolverine, but that isn't enough to prevent the final product from falling short in a number of key areas.

As the name suggests, the story tracks the progress of Wolverine (a.k.a. Logan), whose sordid military past at the complex known as Facility X is responsible for his extremely bad attitude along with some pretty scary mutative powers. Against his will, Logan was subjected to hideous experiments in an attempt to create the ultimate military soldier. A metallic compound known as adamantium was fused to his entire skeleton along with a razor-sharp set of retractable claws. His innate mutant powers give him a rapid regenerative ability along with increased physical strength and heightened feral instincts. But hey, you all knew that, right?

Anyway, Logan finds out that he's been infected with the deadly Shiva virus. And if that wasn't bad enough, he's later informed by Beast, his hairy blue friend, that in forty-eight hours he'll be worm food. Together, with remote psychic tuition from Professor Xavier, Logan must face his painful past and infiltrate the same military compound where he underwent those mentally scarring incidents in order to find the Shiva virus antidote. That's where you come in.

At its heart, the game is a simplistic 3D action adventure, with a few neat ideas thrown in for good measure. I'll go ahead and state upfront that the GameCube game is barebones; no progressive scan, no Dolby Pro Logic II sound, and no widescreen. Graphically though, it's a pretty cool-looking game. Wolverine and his cronies look the part and convey the tough, gritty feeling of the original characters from the comic books. Unfortunately, however, X2: Wolverine's Revenge has a number of unforgivable problems. Most noticeable of all is the difficulty level, and in turn, the frustrating nature of the gameplay.

It's not so much that the enemies are hard to kill, or that the simplistic level design inflicts any brain-bending puzzles, but more that the inherent trial-and-error style progression through the levels gets tedious to the point of removing all the fun from playing. At certain points in the game, Prof. X tells you that you're regenerative powers have been weakened, which leads to some teeth-grinding, stop-and-start play sessions. But most incredible of all are the various unarmed enemy soldiers that seem quite capable of blocking a stunning ballet-weaved volley of adamantium claw attacks with their arms, legs, and heads. This serves nothing more than to make a complete mockery of Wolverine's nature and abilities.

Rage against the machine. For the most part, the fighting system and engine are pretty standard, but consider the point I just mentioned, and then consider that even though there might be four or five submachine guns lying around at your feet, Wolvey ain't allowed to use them -- then we've got some problems. Thankfully, his "feral" rage meter and the use of "strike" moves help alleviate some of the basic combat issued. The rage meter builds as hits connect with enemies and can be activated by tapping the R2-button twice. You're able to inflict much more damage at faster speeds which'll help you get through some of the more populated areas in the game. You can fight with claws drawn or retracted, but remember, that in order to regenerate health, they need to be stowed away safely in Wolvey's knuckles.

The "strike" moments are probably the best part of combat. When surrounded by multiple targets, hitting the correct button will unleash one of twenty-four scripted attack moves. Early on in the game these are great, but as the enemies get stronger and more deadly, the strike moves simply lose some of their punchiness.
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