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May 26, 2009
X-Men Origins: Wolverine - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/4/2009ActivisionActivisionRaven Software1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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It certainly looks like Wolverine!
The first big (American) Summer blockbuster of 2009 was the Hugh Jackman starring movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As a spin-off and prequel to the very popular X-Men franchise it was a big risk, but it has paid dividends. Despite some pretty average reviews the movie has managed to pull in an impressive $US310 million worldwide to date (with many international territories yet to report box office numbers) making it a moderate hit so far.

Naturally as with almost every big blockbuster movie there is a video game tie-in an Activision has stepped up to the plate with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Developed by Raven Software this game looks good, but does it deliver?

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Wolverine uses a spin attack.
The storyline in this game is loosely based on the upcoming movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine sees you uncage Wolverine's tragic past and discover how the ultimate weapon was created. Unleash the razor sharp adamantium claws, feral instincts and mutant regeneration power of the worlds fiercest hero. Visceral combat. Pure rage. Epic battles. Take on the impossible in your hunt to uncover the secrets of Weapon X... then exact your revenge.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a third person action game with the lead character having three main combat moves - a light attack, a heavy attack and a grab move. There's more though as you can string attacks together, by pressing R1 you can target an enemy and by pressing L1 then lunge at them before pressing light attack for quick and fast attacks, a heavier deadlier attack, or a throw which will launch the enemies towards walls or other objects in the game world. Throw them towards a forklift, or broken branch on a tree and they will be impaled. Very cool stuff. By holding down the R2 button some more powerful rage attacks are possible which use up some energy collected by taking out enemies, or destroying objects in the game world

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That's a pretty hefty attack.
Gameplay really is a joy in this game. Wolverine is responsive to your commands, the range of moves as described above is more varied then initial appearances would have you believe. While the camera is occasionally a little awkward it is easy to flick it around for a better viewpoint. During the levels you will also come across the occasional puzzle to solve, but they won't take too much thinking, while there are also moments which include some Quick Time Event styled button mashing, but they are few and far between. Even the health system is impressive with Wolverine, as in the comic books and movies, able to regenerate his health to full capacity given enough time.

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Wolverine attacks the chopper.
We must applaud Activision and Raven Software for keeping this game true to the comic books in one very real way - the amount of blood. Compared to the rather tame movie, and even the previous X-Men movies this game includes copious amounts of blood and dismemberment and even a couple of pretty brutal moves including ripping of the heads of some big enemies, and even lifting enemies up into the rotor blades of a helicopter. This game deserves the MA15+ rating, but is so much better for it!

Any time a video game is released to coincide with a movie there is always a risk (from a game players perspective) that the resulting game is a mess due to rushed development. Case in point: We're currently playing though Terminator Salvation on PS3 and it's quite clear that game was rushed for release. Fortunately X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn't appear to suffer in the same manner with a game several times longer, more polished cut scenes and more detailed storyline, and generally more spit and polish throughout then Warner Brothers Interactive's Terminator title.

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Wolverine gets his claws out.
On the negative side the game is a bit linear overall. While some areas open up into larger battle fields there is usually only one way in, and one way out of each area. It was also great to see the lush jungles and the gorgeous undergrowth, but when you're stuck on the dirt path and can't walk through shrubs 2 foot tall then there is certainly a level of disappointment associated with this. Likewise there are some invisible walls in other areas including ledges which Wolverine could easily jump down, but isn't able to in this game. Ultimately the biggest issue is that there isn't enough variety in the gameplay. Sure you have some new moves, and plenty to use, but it remains a third person action game from start to finish with little variety beyond the look of the levels.

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Clawing his way along the chopper.
Visually X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an impressive title. Locations are varied from jungles, to building interiors, ice and snow covered lands, to bars among others. Animation on the characters is good, with Wolverine looking particularly impressive in his wide range of moves. While the frame rate is solid enough for the majority of the game it does drop when there is a lot of action on-screen.

While the vast majority of cut-scenes were rendered using CG visuals there was the odd occasion when the game reverted to footage from the film, including the scene when Wolverine is submerged in the tank to get his alterations - you've probably seen it in the trailer. It's quite jarring and we would have preferred Raven Software to make this in CG as well for consistency.

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Battles in Wolverine are pretty intense!
X-Men Origins: Wolverine's audio is also better then average. The music is pretty good and ramps up and down with the action. It really do wish developers though would only start the 'action' music after you have entered combat, and stop it a little ways after. As with many other games the action music starts up as soon as you enter an area with enemies thereby taking away the surprise of being ambushed. Sound effects are solid with plenty of Wolverine's blade swishes and the speech - including Hugh Jackman - is varied and impressive as well.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a very entertaining title. While it has some technical issues they can, for the most part, be overlooked. If you liked the movie, or the X-Men universe in general, then this is a game worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSLocations are good, as is Wolverine's animations. Solid.
SOUNDPlenty of speech with good music and solid effects. Nothing outstanding though.
GAMEPLAYBasically a hack and slash game with some RPG elements. A bit repetitive.
VALUEQuite a bit longer then I expected, but no multi-player disappoints.
OVERALLX-Men Origins: Wolverine isn't the best video game in any areas, but it isn't a disaster either. In fact X-Men fans should enjoy this game.

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