Genesis Of A Lunge Attack
The best thing about Origins is the lunge attack. Much like Raven made lightsaber combat a total thrill in Jedi Outcast seven years ago, Wolverine's ability to leap hundreds of feet across the air and sink his claws into the chest, throat and face of whatever was unlucky enough to be the target is an awesome experience. You learn the ability almost immediately, and it is incredibly satisfying right up until the end. Some stylish slow-motion cuts complete the effect and give the game a real signature gameplay element.
Outside of the excellent lunge attack, the rest of the game follows a very basic hack n' slash formula. You have light and heavy attacks, a throw button, and health that regenerates if you find cover for a few seconds. It's all solid, if a little unremarkable and safe. Enemies usually go down in one combo, so most won't get the chance to inflict any major damage. A few enemies pull out some invisibility tricks or have shields to prevent you from going lunge happy, and although they too go down quickly, it's nice to have a little challenge from Origins. However, the main draw is definitely the means in which you dispatch your foes, and not how difficult it is to do so; the game's style and surprisingly bloody outcomes are the strong points here.
Like the title suggests, the game is about the dichotomy of Wolverine's origins as an emerging hero and how it affects him later on in life. The game uses a flashback format which allows you to hack up enemies and environments in both high-tech factories as well as the much more more scenic Africa setting, which chronicles a military-like operation from Wolverine's past. Although the jungles of Africa are definitely the stand-out visually, the game looks good all around. The character models can look a little off and muddy at times, but generally they are moving around and being eviscerated so quickly that its hard to notice. Wolverine himself looks great, though, especially when his muscles and bones are exposed before his healing ability mends him back together. Voice overs are decent, although it doesn't much matter; the plot is so incredibly disjointed that it's hard to make much sense of it.
Some other things get in the way of the fun, also. For a full-priced game, there's not a lot of value here. The core game takes about six hours to finish, and although you can go look for some hidden action figures to unlock “challenge rooms” and other extras, it's hard to imagine anyone but the most dedicated Wolverine fan actually wanting to track all of it down. A few bugs also crop up from time to time. On a few occasions, my rabid slices would pass right through enemies as they stood oblivious, not taking damage or blocking. On another occasion, a boss character vanished entirely, but a quick death and reload from the last checkpoint fixed the issue. Annoying hang ups to be sure, but nothing major.
Basically, this game is a great rental. Jaunting through the game's single player and lunging everything in sight is great while it lasts, occasional bugs and all, but it's not something worth revisiting. There's nothing major wrong with X-Men Origins: Wolverine; it just doesn't have a particularly large vision for what it wants to accomplish. It sets out to be is a fun hack n' slash where you play as a super hero favourite, and it does that admirably. It's a great idea that works well; it's just not a particularly inventive or long-lasting one.