Published May 29, 2009One of the inherent problems with any X-Men game, going as far back as Konami's six-player arcade classic, is that it's intrinsically more fun to play as the short and hirsute, Adamantium-infused anger ball Wolverine. So it's nice to not feel bad about ignoring Cyclops or Nightcrawler in Wolvie's first now-gen solo outing.
Yes, it's an adaptation of the recent film, with the original actors' voices and added "plot" padding. But rather than being a slapped-together cash-in, word is the game is better than the movie. I wouldn't know, as I'm too much of an X-snob to go see it after hearing it was worse than the abomination known as X-Men: The Last Stand.
Origins is made by Raven Software, the good folks behind the last-gen X-Men Legends RPGs (and the more recent Marvel: Ultimate Alliance). It's not a sprawling dungeon-crawler like those but rather an ultra-violent claw-'em-up - no more, no less.
Having grown up on Wolverine comics, I've always dug his berserker rages, ridic sideburns, Asian fetish and not-lame Canadianess (unlike Alpha Flight). So for all the game's faults - a lack of ambition, fractured flashback narrative and unimaginative opponents - stringing together ever more acrobatic (and bloody) attack combos is a pleasure.
Unlike the last Logan game, 2003's disappointing X2: Wolverine's Revenge, this one comes through where it counts, conveying the literally visceral "oomph" of comicdom's most infamous antihero as you carve and lunge your way through African jungles, Canadian tundra and the American Southwest.
The game also deftly handles Wolverine's healing factor, with his body repairing itself in real-time, which is not only as gory as all get out but it finally means that game convention of hiding to heal actually makes sense. And if you ever get turned about, his feral senses will point you in the right direction (and even point out boss weak points).
Ultimately, how much pleasure you derive from Origins will depend on how much you always wanted to be Wolverine, slicing and dicing bad guys, because that is what you will be doing, a lot. This can get repetitive and dull for some folks, especially since the storyline is necessarily locked to Logan's by-now-boring beginnings.
Curiously, the game's time-jumping opening and ending cinematics are clearly inspired by that all-time classic '80s X-Men arc "Days of Future Past," which hints at a vastly more interesting Sentinel-filled sequel. Still, I'm a sucker for the character, so Origins pretty much had me at "Snikt!" (Raven/Activision)