If, like me, you're a fan of Wolverine, be it from the comics, television shows, or movies, you were most likely excited at the prospect of this game. X-Men Origins: Wolverine does not disappoint, it is every bit the experience we were promised but with a few unfortunate technical issues as well.
The premise is simple: You are Wolverine, there are people in your way, 'snikt.' The manual being a mere seven pages long speaks to this, four of those pages being a list of all the combinations you can perform. You have your basic quick and strong attacks, grabs, and you can lunge at your enemies over great distances. Eventually you'll be able to unlock "Fury Attacks" which are basically just flashy moves that are supposed to do massive damage but don't unless you upgrade them. Speaking of which, you gain experience from killing your enemies or from collecting dog tags hidden throughout the levels. I say hidden but they aren't really that hard to find, especially with Wolverine's Feral Sense acting as a kind of GPS; pointing the way you should go and highlighting objects of interest.
As you level up you'll gain upgrade points that you can put into areas such as health and claw damage. The idea was to allow some customization but I had pretty much everything maxed by the end of the game so it almost seems moot. You can also find mutagens around the levels which give you boons to certain areas like more experience per kill, reduce the damage you take from attacks, etc. In a way this makes the game a little too easy, at least this is what I found, making me wish that the hard difficulty was playable from the beginning.
Gameplay wise, Origins is solid. The controls are simple, intuitive, responsive and easy to remember. You'll have lots of fun slicing and dicing your way through hordes of enemies watching Wolverine rip them in half and lose his shirt in the process. Yup, that's right, Wolverine spends most of the game shirtless, unless you somehow impossibly managed to avoid taking any damage. So ladies; if you couldn't get enough of Hugh Jackman shirtless in the movie then this is a game you should at least watch being played.
This game does lend itself to a bit of repetitive tedium, you'll be executing the same moves over and over, and once you've mastered the quick kill you probably wont bother with much else. You do fight some larger enemies that require special rules of engagement (which I won't ruin for you) but you'll be seeing a lot of them as well and once you've figured it out, they aren't hard to kill.
Breaking up the combat are some easy puzzles that can be a little annoying thanks to the somewhat awkward jumping and ledge mechanics. You can only grab onto certain ledges, which does make it kind of annoying in some spots as falling off some edges results in a game over. I did run into two major glitches while playing through, one of which resulted in having to load a checkpoint, though in ten hours of gameplay I guess that isn't too bad. The other I managed to get around, an enemy I had to kill to advance somehow became lodged inside a forklift and I couldn't knock him out but all it took was a little creative killing.
The levels are completely linear, with any side exploration resulting in a goodie of some form and a dead end. They are, however, superbly detailed, you won't find any empty rooms and the outdoor environments are lush and beautiful to look at. In some cases the camera can be a pain by forcing the focal point to a single spot and not letting you see other directions. In most cases it follows Wolverine pretty well and doesn't detract from the gameplay in the slightest.
What really drives this game is the story. There's plenty of well written and acted dialog, an enthralling storyline and so many tidbits I was bouncing on my couch with excitement. It bounces back and forth between his past and present, and without ruining it for anyone who doesn't already know, explaining how he became Weapon X and lost his memory. The dialog isn't forced and the actors from the movie do all the voice work thankfully, otherwise it just would have been so wrong.
The game itself is absolutely gorgeous. Hugh Jackman looks like Hugh Jackman. The developers even put in real time regeneration of the character model. There were points in some of the cinematics that I actually thought it was a live action clip. That being said, you will see a lot of the same enemies rushing at you in hordes like mindless idiots who haven't figured out they're up against a regenerating killing machine.
Origins is a fun game with great story and visuals, perfect for fans of Wolverine, hack and slash gameplay or a shirtless Hugh Jackman. However, with only about ten hours of gameplay you may be better off renting this game than buying it outright at full price. Being a single player only game, there isn't much replay value if you don't like what Origins embodies, or get simply get tired of slaughtering mindless idiots. For me, this is a game I look forward to playing through again, but this is coming from someone who has enjoyed most of the Dynasty Warrior games, over and over and over again.