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Hidden Gems: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Hidden Gems: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

No game has ever done Wolverine properly. None of them. There have been good games that feature Wolverine (Marvel vs Capcom 3 and X-Men Legends) and some games that have nailed down his range of moves and even outfits (Marvel Ultimate Alliance and, erm, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2). But there haven’t been any games that have really captured the berserker rage at the heart of his character, the snarl, the violence, the ferocity. You know, the things that actually make him Wolverine besides the yellow suit and metal claws.

So it was weird that the first game to do it was a movie tie-in, of all things.

There’s been a rumour over the years that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was based on a script for the movie that 20th Century Fox ended up rejecting. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a fun conspiracy because it’s easy to see why it might have come about.

The movie was a limp action flick that was neutered to squeeze under a PG-13 rating, any blood washed away off-screen before delicate eyes could see it and reinventing Marvel’s trash talk king, Deadpool, as a mute. Wolverine roars a bit when he gets out of water, shouts at the sky and… yeah. It was dull.

The game sees Wolverine leap onto a helicopter that’s firing at him, drive his claws through the windscreen, impale the pilot, yank him out of the seat and drive him upwards into the rotor blades and decapitating him. In the first five minutes. Before impaling someone else and charging across the bridge, using their body as a bullet shield.

It’s mostly a compotent, above average action-platformer with some clever puzzles thrown in, the sort of game that you can picture X-Men: Destiny becoming. But what elevates this is the fighting. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is drenched in torrents of gore that you’d expect from a character who is 1) always angry and 2) has razor sharp claws.

Enemies don’t so much has health bars as they do resistance to your claws, the final blow slicing their frail bodies into ribbons. They’re slashed, stabbed, decapitated, impaled, ripped apart… even Wolverine’s regeneration ability is turned from a functional recovering health bar to something visceral and gory, his critical health shown by huge chunks of flesh missing and exposing his rib cage. Hell, even his lunge move was turned into a platforming mechanic, so you didn’t leap across platforms as much as you leaped claw-first at the unfortunate goon waiting for you on top of it.

None of this would have happened had X-Men Origins: Wolverine been based on the actual film that rolled out to cinemas. While it shares some scenes – the bar fight with Sabertooth, the Agent Zero encounter, that unfortunate final battle with Deadpool – the level of violence and gore in the game is far, far beyond that of the film. It’s almost a shame that if the rumour is true, that the film was never made because there’s far more excitement and invention in the game’s opening 10 minutes than there is in the film’s entire running time.

It’s not a perfect game. The formula does start to get stale towards the end and the boss battle with Deadpoolfeels both out of place and is the only time there’s a horrendous difficulty spike to be overcome. But even so, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a game that was written off just because of its status as a movie tie-in. Instead, it should serve as a template for how movie tie-in games should be done and deserves its place among GoldenEye, Chronicles of Riddick and the Lego series as the top examples of the genre.

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