This is a fairly easy game to summarize: If God of War and Uncharted got together to have babies, Wolverine would be their offspring. While not as polished or innovative as the games that inspire it, Origins definitely sets the bar pretty high for future movie-licensed games. I can say in all honesty that after seeing the film this adaptation is actually better than the movie it’s based off of. It’s obvious from the first cut scene to the end credits that the developers wanted to do this game justice and that they weren’t simply cashing in on a sure thing. But whether it’s good enough to warrant a purchase is the big question, one I’ll be answering in this review.
The first thing you should know is that Wolverine doesn’t try to do anything new or innovative, it borrows from several successful games and manages to make what it borrows its own. There’s a rather cool boss fight against two Wendigos (more on those later) that reminded me of the epic battle against Leon and two El Gigantes in Resident Evil 4, and collecting the dog tags of your fallen comrades reminded me of the first Gears of War. But the two games this game borrows heavily from would be God of War and Uncharted. Everything from the brutal and extremely bloody combat to the buyable combos, to the way Wolverine opens some doors, and even the orbs that are released from slain enemies and objects, all reminded me of Kratos’ series. I also see a lot of Uncharted in this game, as most of the flashbacks that occur throughout the main story take place in a jungle filled with ancient ruins. This connection wouldn’t be as noticeable if you didn’t have to solve puzzles and do a lot of platforming to get around the ruins.
I could go on and on about the subtle (and not so subtle) connections between Wolverine and other games, but I won’t because what this game takes from other titles it turns into its own. So moving on, this game looks good. Not great, but a lot of polish was put into the game to make it look like a next-gen console game should. There are even a few moments (emphasis on few) that I actually stopped playing so I could look around, and most of these moments took place in the jungle flashbacks as those were some of the more attractive sections in the game. The sound effects are good, and that includes but isn’t limited to the music. The music is your generic action movie soundtrack; it never astounds but always keeps the game from sounding dull. The sound effects are much better and they sound their best as you’re shredding your enemies into gooey, squishy pieces. I should mention here that this isn’t a game for those with a weak stomach, as body parts will quite literally be flying.
Hugh Jackman was kind enough to lend his voice and likeness to the game, which really helps Origins feel like it’s a part of the X-Men universe. I mean, who plays a better Wolverine than Mr. Jackman? No one, that’s who. Not that Wolverine has many lines outside of cut-scenes. When he isn’t grunting or growling you may occasionally hear him say something along the lines of “School’s in, bub.” Another noticeable aspect of Logan (that’s Wolverine for those who aren’t terribly X-Men savvy) is the way he takes damage. Whenever he gets shot (a common occurrence in this game), the bullet holes appear throughout hit body; when he gets stabbed, you see the cut(s); and when he takes heavy damage you can actually see sections of his metallic skeleton, like his skull or rib cage. Because of Wolverine’s ability to heal you can only see these things temporarily. Once the healing kicks in the damage will slowly disappear as he regenerates, which is actually pretty cool to see.
There’s another unique feature in this game, besides the regeneration ability, called Feral Senses. When you access your Feral Senses your vision changes to this sort of ethereal vision where objects of interest are shown in bright colors. This ability helps solve puzzles throughout the game and it also comes in handy when fighting certain enemies. The best thing about the Feral Senses is that it practically guarantees that you’ll never get stuck or too frustrated with finding your way in some of the more maze-like levels (the forests in particular were sometimes easy to get lost in). When I play my games I don’t ever want to get to the point where I have to search online or in manuals to learn how to get past a certain point in a game, and Origins makes sure you never reach that point.
Like any good action game, Origins has some rather spectacular action sequences. There are times when I was leaping from Jeep to Jeep while being chased by a wave of water from a flooding dam. Another sequence had me leaping from boat to boat before reaching one with a mounted gun so I could take down the rest. But the most impressive part of the game had me skydiving from helicopter to helicopter taking each down with my claws. Origins has a plethora of over-the-top action sequences that rival scenes from any big budget action movie.
There are a lot of good things about this game: the action is addictive, the visuals are great, I could go on and on. Unfortunately, like any licensed movie game, this one has its flaws. The first is the repetitiveness. While there’s a healthy amount of variety in the environments, ranging from snowy forests to dense tropical jungles and secret underground laboratories, the game is basically this: you enter a room (or cleared out area in a jungle) where you are met with wave after wave of enemies for you to ravage before moving to the next area, where you will either solve a puzzle or kill a Wendigo. Yes, Origins has Wendigos aplenty. If you aren’t’ familiar with these creatures, they are colossal monsters that can only be killed if you (*spoiler*) jump on them and pull a Jason Voorhees and stab them repeatedly.
Another issue I have with the game is all the platforming. There is a lot of platforming, primarily in the jungle areas where you’re exploring ancient ruins. Most of the puzzles are also found in these areas, so when you add puzzles, platforming, and dense jungles filled with ancient ruins, there’s an obvious connection to be made to Uncharted. I liked Uncharted, it’s a great game, but it’s great because it does platforming, puzzles, and dense jungles extremely well. Origins, however, doesn’t. This is an action game, platforming doesn’t work very well in this game so it would’ve been nice to see a little less of it.
It’s obvious from the beginning that this game isn’t trying to do anything new or terribly innovative. Origins does action, and does it well. It also does visceral, bloody combat extremely well. The addition of environmental kills makes the already brutal combat even more brutal. There aren’t many games where you can impale countless enemies on trees and other sharp objects. The absence of a multiplayer component is extremely disappointing, especially since some sort of multiplayer (or even co-op) would’ve worked well with this type of game. This hurts the game’s overall value and level of replayability, but not enough to keep this game from being something any action (or X-Men) fan should try. Shredding enemies with Wolverine’s Adamantium claws never gets old, and there’s a good level of variety in the enemies and levels to keep the game from becoming too dull.