Genepool
Activision
Action
1
04.15.03

X2: Wolverine's Revenge


X2: Wolverine’s Revenge is one of the best uses of the X-Men license yet in a video game. Sadly, the game’s few major flaws keep it from being the best. The core gameplay is fantastic, as it showcases Wolverine’s mutant powers and makes for an exciting game to boot. However, some key flaws in the overall game really hamper it. Beyond the flaws, you’ll find a fun game that makes great use of it’s license. Unfortunately, the flaws can be hard to look past.

Gameplay

First off, the core gameplay involves you running around the game’s many environment and hacking away at folks until you fight a boss character and/or progress the storyline. There are some nice twists in the gameplay that make fantastic use of Wolverine’s mutant powers, like having to retract the adimantium claws in order to activate Wolvie’s healing powers. There is also a nice combo system (called the strike system) that makes use of Wolverine’s heightened speed. Once you get your on-screen cue (the word “strike” appearing on the screen) you can start doing some wicked combos on your foes. These things are flashy and effective. They also add a nice bit of spice to the simple hacking and slashing thanks to the variety of combos at your disposal. Also, a nice bit of stealth has been added that makes use of Logan’s heightened senses and acts as a nice way to break up the hack and slash gameplay that permeates the game. While the stealth stuff isn’t as complex as say Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, it gets the job done. There is beauty in simplicity, and X2’s simple stealth actions prove that.

Now, as you know from the opening paragraph, it’s not all rosy when it comes to the gameplay. Some simple, yet very cumbersome flaws make progressing through the game an unbearable chore at times. First off, there are many one-hit kills throughout the game. Some of them tend to be from something simple like just activating a lift. Now, this might seem simple enough, but the game neglects to tell you that the lift will be coming down, and if you don’t move out of the way in time (and due to you not knowing that it’s coming down, you probably won’t) you’re dead. That means that you have to restart the entire level from scratch. Now I usually wouldn’t mind this too much, but some of the levels are pretty complex, with some tough foes to face. This tends to get a bit bothersome after a while if you happen to make one simple mistake and have to re-kill every enemy. A save-anywhere feature would have remedied everything but the one-hit kills, and even those wouldn’t be so bad with a save-anywhere system due to trial and error eventually helping you learn how to avoid the one-hit deaths.

Now, all of the combo systems and stealth modes would be pretty much useless if the controls weren’t responsive enough to enable you to make good use of them. Thankfully, Wolverine’s Revenge features fantastic, responsive controls that also make great use of the Xbox’s controller. After just a few minutes of use, they will be like second nature. Be sure to get used to the controls as quickly as possible. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game, you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you accidentally hit the wrong button, and end up taking more damage than you have to. Sure, you could use your healing powers, but that takes time, and time isn’t always on your side in this game.

Graphics

The graphics in X2 are a bittersweet pill to swallow. On one hand, the environments are bathed in detail, as are the main characters. On the other hand, anyone who isn’t a main character is as bland as could be. Very little work was put into making the basic enemies in the game look even the least bit threatening, which is a bit disturbing since they do actually pack quite a wallop at times. It would be nice if their visual appearance reflected the threat they can present, but sadly, it doesn’t. The high level of detail in the main characters makes up for most of the visual shortcomings though. Wolverine, in particular, looks fantastic. With tons of little touches (like scruffy facial hair) that really add a bit of believability to the character. The realistic graphical touches in the environments really add a sense of realism as well. The red hue over everything when sirens go off in some early levels, for example, adds a sense of urgency to the game. The graphics help create a mood for the game, which is nice, as it helps build up a connection between the player and the characters in the game.

Sound

The sound in the game is fantastic. It’s probably the best part of the game besides the controls. Mark Hamill (from the Wing Commander cartoon and some trilogy of movies, Star something or other…) and Patrick Stewart (from the X-Men movies and Star Trek) provide the voices of Wolverine and Professor X respectively. Mark Hamill is one of the most diverse voice actors around (which is why I mentioned his work on the Wing Commander cartoon first) and he showcases his skills as Wolverine. His voice really fits Wolverine’s tough character, and adds another aspect of believability to the character by showing a decent emotional range as well. Patrick Stewart is fantastic as Professor X, as his dignified method of speech really fit’s the Professor X character perfectly. Aside from the voice acting, the game’s musical score also does wonders for the game. The music in the game does a great job at fitting the situations it is used in, and it really brings out some of the urgency and severity of things in the game. While you can use a customized soundtrack in the game, I can’t see why you’d want to since the music in the game is already fantastic. I simply can’t imagine playing this game with music other than what’s provided, it’s simply that good.

Replay Value

Wolverine’s Revenge is packed with a sizeable amount of much replay value. There is a horde of unlockables featured in the game. If you dig Wolverine’s character, or his story, you’ll probably enjoy playing through the game a couple of times. If you don’t like the character, than the unlockable stuff should help tide you over. Some of the hidden things (such as videos) are hilarious, especially one with a very friendly, neighborhood web slinger. If you really love Wolverine, and dig the story of how came to be what he is, you’ll get tons of replay value out of this game.

Bottom Line:

All in all, if you are looking for a fun game to pass some time, you can do worse than Wolverine’s Revenge. The game’s few flaws put a damper on the overall experience, which is a shame since this game had the makings of a classic licensed game. Despite the flaws, the game is a blast to play through, and if you enjoy the origins of Wolverine, you will absolutely love this game. As a long-time X-Men fan, I had a blast with this game. The cheap deaths and archaic save structure put a couple of blemishes on the game, as do the generic character designs for most of the enemies. Beyond them lies a great game that is sure to be a dream come true for either fans of the character or the X-Men in general.

-Jeremy Peeples




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