Despite being one of the most popular comic book characters in the world, Wolverine’s video game appearances have always been less than stellar. After sitting in on Raven Software’s Comic Con presentation of their upcoming X-men Origins: Wolverine game however, one fact was clear: this is the game that fans have always wanted.
Before starting the demo, the Raven rep reminded us that every other Wolverine game has sucked. Good point. He then told us that the team has been working on this game for three years to ensure that it does this character justice. The demo began with a prerendered cutscene showing several soldiers walking around a ruined building. Moments later, three bloody blades burst through a soldier’s skull, which lead to the Hugh Jackman-voiced mutant repeatedly stabbing, mauling and decapitating everything in sight. It was great to see an M-rated Wolverine do his thing, and we were assured that we hadn’t seen anything yet.
The next segment that the developer loaded up had Wolverine being thrown from a plane in the middle of the jungle. The player was given full control of the character as he soared through the air without a parachute. After breaking his fall claws-first on an unsuspecting soldier, we were shown the God of War-inspired combat system that featured a number of chained attacks using Wolverine’s adamantium blades. Several of the more advanced grabs were demonstrated for us as well, including one where he tears a soldier in half and another where he stabs his foe in the crotch several times before throwing his mangled corpse to the floor. Also demonstrated was Wolverine’s lunge ability, which sends Logan flying claws-first into a victim and allows him to cross great distances instantly, as well as some of the platforming elements that looked similar to Uncharted.
We were then informed that when Wolverine is hit, you see those injuries manifest themselves on his body. After taking on some armed soldiers, the bullets that had torn through his flesh left gaping holes in his body, bits of muscle tissue exposed and scraps of skin loosely hanging off of his torso. Thanks to his mutant regeneration ability, everything heals itself seconds after it is damaged, and we were able to see this transformation in real-time. It is an impressive effect that adds a lot to the game and shows a side of the character that hasn’t been seen before in such detail.
The developer loaded up a different level for us, this time in a sewer featuring Wolverine in his traditional yellow and black outfit. He began to talk about how so many action games rely too heavily on Quick Time Events for their best moments, and mentioned that X-Men Origins: Wolverine would have none of them. He then triggered a giant flood in the sewer, forcing Wolverine to keep targeting enemies in the distance to lunge at them and outrun the overflowing water. Control was never taken away from the player, and we can all be thankful for that.
The final area that they showed us had Logan skydiving towards a trio of helicopters. He purposely sent the character into the chopper blades to show us that it wouldn’t kill him. Instead, his flesh was ripped off, but he was fine and ready to try it again as soon as his skin grew back. Wolverine grabbed the nose of the helicopters and proceeded to slash at the engine, pull soldiers out of the cockpit and even stick an enemies head into the chopper blades. All of this was being controlled in real-time by the developer, and seemed effortless in execution. After taking out a few soldiers, a mid-air boss fight broke out that Wolverine halted by jamming his claw into the rotors of the helicopter, sending it spiraling towards the pavement and ending the demo on an exciting note.
Based on what I have seen so far, X-Men Origins: Wolverine will set a new standard for mature comic book-based video games. The action was intense, the themes stayed true to the character and the over-the-top violence was unlike any other X-Men title before. The fighting system, from what I could tell, looks deep enough to stay consistently entertaining, and the amount of gameplay variety shown during the presentation bodes well for the title’s lasting value. Wolverine ships on May 1st for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation 2, DS, Wii, and PSP, ensuring that X-fans with any console will soon be able to unleash the dark side of one of comics’ most popular heroes.