By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
He slices! He dices! He's Wolverine!
Launching simultaneously with much-hyped X2 feature film, X2 Wolverine's Revenge follows the adventures of mutant X-Men in an original story developed by Marvel Comics writer and editor Larry Hama.
It's also the first video game that allows players to climb into the retractable claws of Wolverine.
While not as much fun as the Spider-Man video games (another joint effort between Marvel and video game publisher Activision), Wolverine's Revenge is more than a shameless movie tie-in.
In this single-player title, Wolverine discovers that the nefarious organization that endowed him with his unique mutations has triggered a deadly virus in his body. Wolverine has only 48 hours to secure the antidote before he succumbs.
Clawing his way in
Using Wolverine's razor-sharp claws to hack and slash through enemies consumes much of the game play, but strategy and stealth are also required to infiltrate high-security locations.
The title is divided into six "acts," each of which includes three or four levels of game play. Visually, the game is played from a cinematic "over the shoulder" third-person perspective. Wolverine travels to different parts of the world to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and collect key power-ups and other items.
As a fun addition to the game play, players can collect dog tags spread across the globe that can be used to boost the intensity of combat. The tags, which come in bronze, silver and gold, can be used to unlock special concept and production artwork that is displayed in photo and movie galleries once the main game has been completed.
Comic book covers are also littered throughout the game, and players can use them to give Wolverine a quick wardrobe change. The featured costumes are derived from the comic books and feature films.
Along with his retractable claws, Wolverine's other well-known attributes - an unbreakable adamantium-laced skeleton, accelerated healing, a "feral rage" boost and an animal-like sixth sense to "smell" danger - come into play during the game. And fans of the comic book series will find a few familiar foes such as archenemies Sabretooth, Magneto, Wendigo and Juggernaut.
Big-name voice talent
Voiced by actor Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men), Professor Charles Xavier provides the player with hints and clues through a telepathic link to Wolverine, who is voiced by Mark Hamill (Star Wars).
The game isn't perfect. Controlling Wolverine during combat can prove difficult, especially when there are multiple enemies onscreen simultaneously. Also, some camera angles are finicky, obstructing a clear view just when you need it most.
What's more, the visuals in Wolverine's Revenge don't take advantage of the "next-generation" hardware the title runs on.
If you can get past the well-timed movie franchise tie-in and some minor assorted issues, X2 Wolverine's Revenge" should appeal to action/adventure game enthusiasts, comic book readers and fans of the movie.