I just want it to be on record that when I watched the movie this game is based on, a decent part of me died inside. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is often used as the benchmark for bad superhero movies, but it shouldn’t be when we have Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider 2: Can Someone Put a Leash on Nic Cage Please? The worst thing about Wolvy’s first solo outing is that the start of the movie is amazing, like, really amazing. The introduction of Logan’s powers, the war montage with Creed, and the Team X outing were all brilliant and gave me high hopes for the movie (I mean, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, best idea ever). But then the rest of the movie happened, and I ended up being physically angry in a movie theatre and then crying in the foetal position in a shower soon after. But anyway, the game.
Movie tie-in games have never been known for their brilliance, and very few superhero games have ever been considered to be people’s favourite, generally because it’s very hard to accurately capture someone’s power set on a controller, or their powers are so amazing it’s hard to give a proper challenge (Superman 64 , anyone?) The Arkham series is the exception here, but there aren’t many that can match it. So a Superhero Movie Tie-in game? Bring on the awfulness! And you know what? It really is. So let’s start with the worst.
The in-game camera is quite possibly one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’m really not exaggerating. The only newer gen game I can think of where it is worse is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which I couldn’t even get through because of that single issue. In XMO:W (cool Acronym huh?) the camera is pretty awful, never where it should be – especially in combat, leading to some very annoying instances of frustration with the whole set-up. I cannot tell you the amount of times the camera got stuck in a wall while I was attempting to give an enemy a good Shnikting, which often mean the Shnikting never quite happened and I got shot in the face instead. Even the fixed camera stuff was below par, in Alkali Lake it has one of the classic video game run-away-from-an-impending-doom corridors, however, halfway through they turn the camera around so you have to make sure you adjust your movement controls as necessary otherwise you run right back into the water (Seriously though, water? Couldn’t we have had a cool explosion? Or maybe a river of blood considering how much you manage to get from enemies). Speaking of controls…
They were incredibly sluggish, especially for movement. Trying to pull off cool combos between guys is not possible as the sticks would rarely point you in the right direction before the bad guy moved away. Want to leap onto an enemy? Well, you actually have to wait til you’re in the right area to target them, and not just auto-target when the targeting button is being pressed. Want to switch your targeting between enemies? Nope. Just nope. Not going to happen. Ok, I admit, that was more about targeting than the controls, but they weren’t great either. Anytime a button mash quicktime event came up I had to put the controller on a table and hammer that button to get it to recognise that I was pushing it. Really not a great experience which led me to a lot of frustration, and not particularly conducive to a good time.
Here’s the thing though, I mentioned Castlevania: LOS before and said that the camera was so bad in that that I couldn’t continue playing it. I do that now – if a game hasn’t really grabbed me, or if something is that bad about it, I’m not going to waste my time. So why did I continue to play XMO:W with all of these major faults? Because I can think of very few times I’ve had more fun in a video game. No, really. The simple fun of the game was, I was Wolverine. I got to charge into fights and not worry about damage thanks to my ever-regenerating health bar (Yay, a game where it makes sense!). I got to Shnikt my way through hordes of enemies and see copious amounts of blood spurt out of them. And, most importantly, I got to throw down with Sabertooth in an all-out brawl twice – both times being incredibly fun and amazing.
Which brings us back to superhero games (We were there before, read the second paragraph). I think the main reason they never worked is most of the time, you knew the character, and there was no introduction to them so you never got invested like you would with a new character. What this game does that makes it so much fun to play is that it makes you feel like Wolverine, so all of the bad story, gameplay, and every little awful thing about it just melt away when you’re throwing your claws around and hearing Hugh Jackman call the Blob fat. I mentioned the Arkham series before, and it is a close comparison, though the Arkham series is a lot more polished and has an incredible storyline. When playing those games, and this one, I felt like the superhero that the game is named for – and that should be the defining factor in whether or not superhero games are good. Despite XMO:W’s flaws, it is one hell of an experience. If you haven’t played it because of the movie, I recommend you forget it and spend some quality time with Wolverine’s claws.