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Reviewed: X2: Wolverine's Revenge
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: May 14th, 2003
Page: 2

The storyline starts out with a plausible hook; Wolverine, back when he was in Weapon X, was given a virus that was sort of a "kill switch", so that if he ever escaped the facilities at Alkali Lake he wouldn't be a menace to the outside world, or betray the secrets of the facility. His amazing healing factor has kept it in check for years, but now it's mutated and he needs the antidote from the facility.

So he goes to Alkali Lake. That's the story setup; now sneak in, beat stuff up, tear it to shreds with your claws, and get the antidote while rediscovering Wolverine's past.

It's a nifty concept, with a lot of good points to it.

For starters, the game makes FULL use of Wolverine's mutant abilities. Pull back your claws, and healing factor kicks in, giving you health back. Go to "stealth" mode and Wolverine can use his enhanced senses -- see where people have stepped recently, see their scent in the air as a green trail, catch hidden items that glow in infrared vision. He can also sneak up and make "stealth" kills on enemies, in a system somewhat reminiscent of the Tenchu line of games.

Get enemies into proper position and you can trigger prearranged combo attacks, that show Wolvie beating the crud out of the enemies in some prearranged sequence.

Bosses? Expect lots. Wendigo, Juggernaut, Sabretooth -- they all show up.

Graphically, the game is superb, but the players already knew that. We've seen the ads and the screenshots. System-by-system, Xbox is the crispest, followed by Gamecube and then PS2, but that's the usual progression for games these days. The sound and voice acting has come a long way as well -- gone are the days of horrid voices in the X-Men fighting game line, because there are only two voices that this game needs and it uses decent actors. Patrick Steward once again lends his voice to Professor X, and while I would have preferred Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine, Mark Hamill is definitely not a bad second choice. 

Unfortunately for Activision, someone screwed up royally when they programmed this game's control system, and it needs to go back for another 6 months of reprogramming in order to be fluid enough to work properly.

For starters, the Gamecube controller (as seems to be normal for cross-platform games) is the worst of the three to use, but that doesn't matter much in my evaluation because the controls are so touchy.

For sneaking around, Wolverine is given a wall-hugging maneuver. Great idea, and it worked for Tenchu. Unfortunately, any similarities to Tenchu end there. Because, unless Wolverine does a "sneak around the corner" kill, getting off the wall in time to kill an enemy is an exercise in futility. Likewise, he seems to grab onto walls that aren't even there or at least aren't, visually speaking, walls, which can get incredibly annoying when trying to sneak up on an enemy from behind in a narrow corridor. Put bluntly, he grabs walls too easily, and doesn't let go easily enough.

Then, there's the battle combos. Nice theory, bad execution. If you're not in PERFECT position (with enemies at 90 degrees and you standing in the center of an X formation) it's not available. Plus, enemies tend to sidestep OUT of those positions very quickly, making it nearly impossible to lead them into those formations.

And then there's normal stealth kills. Again, nice idea, but the timing and lousy error margin kills the idea. There's about a 1/10th of a second window where it's available; miss and you alert the guard you're trying to attack. Painful and horrid.

Bottom line: play it, get through it, and then get rid of it unless you're a glutton for punishment, because the control system in this otherwise well-made game is enough to give any serious player a migraine.

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Added:  Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/3

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