ARTS

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May 8, 2009

Wolverine claws its way to the top with gory good time

Ever wanted to cut a man in two with metal alloy claws? Now’s your chance with X-Men Origins: Wolverine—Uncaged Edition, the best film-to-game action adventurer ever. As everyone’s favorite mutant anti-hero, Wolverine, players literally tear through over ten hours of mutilation, evisceration, and decapitation, making his enemies pay in pounds of flesh and tears.

Part of what makes Wolverine so successful is developer Raven Software’s willingness to unshackle the character from the confines of the film franchise’s narrative. Taking cues from the movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine—Uncaged Edition alternates between a Team X mission in Africa and Wolverine’s revenge three years later, but the game weaves a more complex narrative of its own by incorporating elements from both the movie and the comic book. The game’s plot elaborates on more interesting story lines involving Wolverine, Victor Creed, and Stryker, as well as Senator Kelly and Mystique, Wendigos, and Sentinels, who do not appear in the movie. The only problem is that the cut scenes are incorporated into the action, which would be awesome if the graphics didn’t stutter and if you didn’t have to wait on a load screen mid-sentence.

Where the game excels, though, is its game play. The action controls are deceptively easy, with light attack, strong attack, jump, grab, and block functions, but grow increasingly complex with other moves. The most used ability in the game is lunge, which allows Wolverine to pounce on enemies by jumping through the air across great distances. Fury Attacks use Rage to slice multiple enemies to bits, while Quick Kills—which are anything but—allow Wolverine to execute his victims gruesomely by either following up a knee-break with an uppercut decapitation or by making soldiers eat their shotguns. Objects in the surrounding environment such as statues or forklifts can be used to impale victims, but be careful, as this can be used against the main man himself.

However, Wolverine, as anyone who grew up in the ’90s would know, has full regenerative abilities. You can survive impalement, a shotgun blast to the face, and can even be burned alive, then watch as your skin and muscle regenerate before your very eyes. The only significant damage occurs when your chest cavity is open enough to expose your internal organs, or if you fall off a cliff. The combination of brutal game play and regenerative abilities really makes you feel like you inhabit Wolverine in all his ferocious comic glory. All of these skills can be upgraded à la Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and modified by finding mutagens throughout levels. Additionally, players can unlock three classic Wolverine costumes from the comic book that must be earned through amazing Wolverine versus Wolverine battles.

The primary issues with the game are minor but glaring. Along with the stuttering cut scenes, the graphics will occasionally flicker. The music gets too loud at certain points in the game, and jumping without lunge proves problematic, as Wolverine will sometimes just fall off a ledge. However, the main problem is the mini-boss fights, as they are entirely too dependent on lunge. A plethora of violent combinations, Fury Attacks, and Quick Kills means nothing against a mini-boss, who can only truly be damaged by lunging on his back and slowly scraping away. This does not make the game unplayable, but it does tend to get a bit tedious.

When all is said and done, X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition is a phenomenal action adventure game and a must-have for fans of the X-Men series. The game is so awesomely gory that my friends, roommates, and neighbors, upon seeing me play the game, stopped what they were doing to watch its unapologetic violence. If you’ve ever wanted to take a classic icon from your childhood and watch him rip a man limb from limb, then X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition is the game for you.