I can’t say I cared a great deal for the boss battles in Activision’s tie-in Wolverine videogame. They felt like a lazy add-on, and I didn’t really enjoy them. I also thought that the puzzle solving aspect of the game was all but redundant thanks to being able to push a button to get feral senses, and get a big whopping clue as to what you needed to do next. And then the levels felt a little bit rough and ready, as if another couple of weeks of polishing wouldn’t have hurt. Finally, by the time you get past the first few hours of the game, you’re pretty much seen everything it’s got to give you.
I wanted to start with that list of complaints, though, because I had such a raging hoot of a time for the first few hours of playing that I’d far rather concentrate on that now. Because Wolverine is such a gleefully old-fashioned slash ‘em up, it’s really hard to resist. Anyone expected a lazy cash in to the movie is in for a pleasant surprise.
Likewise, anyone expecting a timid tie-in will be in for a shock, given just how ruthlessly violent the game is. Within ten minutes, you’ve seen more blood spilt on the screen than you get in a dozen Die Hard movies, and it’s as far from the film’s family-friendly rating as you’re likely to get.
You take the title role, playing Wolverine as he goes through an assortment of fairly non-descript missions, yet indulging in some very violent action. It’s a bit button-mashy at times, but the game gradually powers you up more and more, and the more time you spend learning Wolverine’s moves and special combos, the better. Heck, the game is worth playing alone for the lunge move, where you target an enemy in the distance, and fly through the air at them, claws poised. It’s brilliant fun, and the developer indulges in the cinematic joy of things by occasionally moving the action to slow motion to let you enjoy it.
Facing a room full of opponents brings back memories of the Renegade games, of Maximo, of Golden Axe, and a whole host of older games, and those first few hours of just indulging in some of the most frantic action seen on a games console this year is terrifically good fun. It feels like there’s always something going on, that there’s always danger around the next corner, and that you’re not allowed to get your breath. It’s those boss battles that bring the momentum to a shuddering stop, but the build up to them is hard not to enjoy.
Wolverine Uncaged is a raw game, and far from a perfect one. But considering just how little I was expecting from it, I heartily salute Activision and Raven for not just bothering, but for putting a broad and violent grin right across my face. More, please.