I REALLY wanted to like X-Men Origins: Wolverine
. I've said it, it's out there – log it in your brain before you continue reading.
I love comics. I'm quite fond of Wolverine. I'm far from averse to hack 'n' slash beat-'em-ups. Even with all those elements in place, you might have called me naïve for being excited about a movie tie-in, given that they're usually lacklustre fare at best. But... early videos and preview coverage, combined with the fact Raven was supposedly working on a
Wolverine game before the license came up – the one that got adapted into this – that all got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, this game could be totally, unbelievably awesome...
Why do I insist on setting myself up for disappointment like that? X-Men Origins: Wolverine
isn't an abomination. Slipping it into your console's disc drive won't make the machine suddenly start weeping blood through the USB ports. But... it's a missed opportunity.
The game is (in case you had any doubt about what sort of game you get with a guy with metal claws growing from his knuckles) a hack 'n' slash. Its plot hangs off the movie of the same name, albeit with other bits and pieces added in.
Wolverine, it should be noted, has a rich and varied past. Logan's been around for nearly 200 years, and fighting folk for most of that time. He's been a soldier, a secret agent, a mindless animal, a samurai and a superhero. That's a lot of material to draw on. The film focuses on the story of him getting adamantium bonded to his skeleton – a not-dull time in Wolvie's life. It's strange, then, that Raven failed to hold my interest in the story. I was quite prepared to pay attention, as I'm far from disinterested in the character. But... the narrative just felt disjointed and uninteresting.
But maybe you're not bothered about the character. Maybe you're just hoping for a great hack 'n' slash experience. Well, the good news is that this in not just a mindless brawler. If you think you can get through X-Men Origins: Wolverine
by mashing buttons, you are wrong. Try it, and you'll quickly find yourself backed into a corner with your innards in full view and your healing factor struggling to keep up. You'll need to make use of most of your repertoire if you want to stay in one piece.
As well as numerous combos for you to pull out of your cowl (if you're wearing one of the unlockable costumes – you mostly don't, so you might need to borrow a hat) there's your rage meter to make use of. This fills up as you kill enemies and break stuff. If you've got enough rage in the tank, you can unleash a more powerful move such as a claw whirlwind.
Because Wolverine has a healing factor that makes bullet and machete wounds but a mild irritation, you have a health bar that constantly refills itself. So that you're not completely indestructible, however, you'll be subjected to obscene levels of pain and - when your healing factor gets low enough - your vitals will be exposed. When they hit rock bottom, you're a goner. In a pleasing touch, Raven has opted to display the amount of damage you've taken on Logan's body, often making him look like a rotting zombie while you wait for his flesh to stitch itself back up.