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Xbox 360 Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

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Whatever Fantastic Four is trying to be, it’s not. If it wants to be a generic beat-em-up, it fails. If it wants to be an RPG, it fails. If it wants to be a multi-player fest in the vein of Gauntlet, it fails. If it wants to be a good game, than rather obviously, it fails.

Set up for four-player action, the entire team of heroes is controlled at once regardless of how many people are playing. A quick flick of the D-pad will switch between the characters if no friends are available locally since Xbox Live support is non-existent. Specific sections of the game require the powers of certain heroes, so the player will need experience with all of the to succeed.

Rise of the Silver Surfer wants to mimic Marvel Ultimate Alliance, ironic since the Fantastic Four were a part of that comic book tie-in. If you want to “flame on,” play that title instead. This is nowhere close in any category.

The initial turn off is a set of pre-rendered cinematics that look like they’ve been lifted from an early release on the PlayStation. The in-game visuals are thankfully slightly more tolerable. That’s still not giving credit, as aside from the character models, there’s nothing here that raises this above an Xbox 360 launch title at best.

Sloppy, loose combat leads the way. Enemies either swarm the team or sit back and fire guns. Against the latter, only the Invisible Woman Sue Storm (without Jessica Alba’s likeness) is effective as her powers can block projectiles. Those that run at the player are dispatched with a few well-placed combos, or by simply smashing the ground with Thing. He’s the only well versed combat character.

A.I. allies are ridiculously stupid, either getting stuck on a small object, standing around while being beaten without counterattacking, or the worst of the bunch, failing to use their super power when the situation would require them. Experience is earned by smashing open destructible items, leading to dull fetch quests to make sure you’ve found everything you need.

Certain areas split up the squad to advance the story, yet variety is still absent. The only truly different mission set is Johnny Blaze, flying through the city coupled with impossible controls that re-center the character seemingly at random. Storm’s mission is the worst of the lost, forced to user her telepathic powers to push objects around to break security gates. Common sense would have Johnny Blaze flying over the barrier to disable the trap.

Even with all of the previously mention atrocities, it’s Fantastic Four’s level design that crushes it. A typical challenge comes in the form of opening a door, fighting enemies, running down a hallway, getting on an elevator, and then repeating that process over. All the hallways look the same, levels are filled with three types of enemies, and the elevators require the same button. The first level is, without exaggeration, this design 40 times. It gets worse from there, especially when backtracking comes into play.

It’s depressing enough that Shrek, Spider-Man, and Pirates of the Caribbean ended up as disappointments in video game form (and movie form for that matter). Rise of the Silver Surfer is the weakest of the bunch, sporting atrocious combat, dull RPG leveling, and grinding levels. This is a severe misfire from 2K Games.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, and PS3.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.