“X-Men 2″ was one of those rare movie sequels that turned out (debatably of course) better than the original. The video games didn’t fare as well. “Wolverine’s Revenge” is a bare bones action beat-em-up with little to offer fans of the comic, the movie, or games in general. It’s not a total loss, it’s the just the potential was never fully realized.
The game steps back in time from the movie to Wolverine’s first days as, well Wolverine. After being spawned, you lash at your creators using a simplistic fighting engine that has little to offer. There’s the back-story that you have 48 hours to cure a virus slowly killing you, but that hardly comes into play until the final levels.
Gameplay is simplistic yet enjoyable in a retro style. It’s your standard beat-em-up as you slash your way through those who have created you (and of course want to destroy you). You’ll unlock more moves as the game progresses, though these are hardly necessary. Making it through without doing anything other than hitting the X button is enough.
To spice things up a bit, Wolverine can enter into his famous rage. This gives him a brief but substantial increase in power. A meter shows how close you are to blowing your top. This increases as you take hits or dish them out. You can also sneak up on guards or detect danger using your special senses. It’s seems like a cheap way to make it seem like you have more moves available since an opportunity to use it rarely prevents itself.
The boss fights will require a little ingenuity, assuming the blatant clues don’t give it all away. They’ll usually go down harder, requiring something extra to finally put them in their place. Everybody else is brain dead as, unbeknownst to them, you run up behind them, slash them in the back, and move on. They have no skills either, firing bullets wildly when you’re standing right in the front of them.
Even with the lack of AI, cheap shots do eventually take their toll. There are only two ways to gain back health: Find power-ups or stand around with your claws retracted. Power-ups are rare and standing around isn’t fun. This is a blatant way to get around the fact that Wolverine isn’t exactly powerful and their level design is amateurish (get key A, open door B). Either way, it’s not fun.
Making things even more difficult is the uncooperative camera. It’s your basic 3-D camera, never where you want it and never facing the right direction. It’s controllable with the right analog stick, but trying to maneuver that while hacking away at foes is far from a pleasant gaming experience.
Now, the key to a beat-em-up is to find a way around the repetitive nature of these games. Simply put, replaying an entire level is just not as entertaining as it would be elsewhere. That’s a critical problem here. Every death sends you all the way back to the start of the stage. In a worst-case scenario, if you die after a boss fight, you’ll have to repeat that too.
Everything revolves around an adequate graphics engine. Explosions are hilariously bad. Once nice touch is that Wolverine slowly dons his movie costume as the game goes on, starting off wearing practically nothing once freed from his tube. The environments look slapped together from a hundred other games and the models look deformed. It seems like the designers couldn’t figure out a way to combine both the comic and movies into one. Either way, it’s pretty much a wash and comes off looking average at best.
Some of the movie soundtrack has seeped into the game, kicking in during the many battles. It can get repetitive during those extended encounters. You also have the option to use your custom soundtracks, a rarity for a game like this. Oddly, even though Hugh Jackman’s face adorns the box, it’s “Star Wars” vet Mark Hamill that provides the lead’s voice. The only actor from the movie series included here is Patrick Stewart. Sound effects are rather forgettable except for that classic effect of the retractable claws getting ready.
There is admittedly some dumb fun to be had here. Fans of this long-standing genre will find a little bit to like and kill some time. There’s nothing wrong with slapping a license onto a game like this either; there have been some enjoyable ones over the years. It’s just that “Wolverine’s Revenge” is more generic than its title.