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‘X-Men’ Scissorhands

‘Wolverine’ Is Supernatural, But There’s Not Magic In It

May 18, 2009
By Doug Elfman, The Game Dork
Bob Mondello, the film critic for National Public Radio, put his finger on the problem of comic book villains in his negative review of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” “Everybody is indestructible because they all have to make more movies,” Mondello said. That is exactly the trouble with the slice-and-dice “Wolverine” game, too, because you end up beating the tar out of mutants who end up just walking away. Where’s the closure? You play as switchblades-for-fingers Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). He regenerates his health, no matter whether someone has just fired 20 bullets into his skull, or whether he’s been set afire by a guy who himself is constantly ablaze. Oh, you can kind of die. If your health drops badly enough — let’s say you get pinned to a concrete floor by a box of metal spikes — the game announces you have failed a level and must restart it. But you can’t really, really die. So even if you begin the game on a tougher setting, it’s easy-breezy and overly familiar to carry out this game’s raison d’etre: walk, kill, walk, kill. Now and then, you slay enough mortal henchmen morons — I don’t even know who these morons are, but they attack you, thereby inviting their putrid deaths — and then you watch cinema cut scenes concerning plot. The plot, heavy on flashbacks and flash-forwards, is as exquisitely mediocre as the dialogue. Essentially, Logan was subjected to a lab experiment that has given him eternal life; now blades pop out of his hands at will; he’s known as Wolverine; haters want to kill him even though they can’t. Major villains can’t die, either, because then they couldn’t exist in future comic books, comic book movies, comic book games, comic book Twitters, etc. Sure, you can beat up your brother Victor Sabretooth (played by Liev Schreiber, the husband of my “celebrity wife” Naomi Watts). But after much fighting, you go your separate ways. Later, dude. There are yet more problems. The gameplay is redundant. Illustrations don’t look especially artistic or realistic. Camera angles don’t always follow the action. And sometimes, the game flakes out, and you find yourself stuck in a room you can’t get out of. “Wolverine” is truly not all that bad nor all that good. It moves like an average sword game featuring no multiplayer mode. Cut. Chop. Blood spews. There is one cool thing. You can press a button to locate a faraway villain, then press another button to soar dozens of feet through the air and land on him with your sword claws, to cut off, you know, his head. Groovy. But that’s pretty much the only remarkable feature. Yes, it’s a supernatural tale, but there’s no magic in it. And there’s no adrenalin rushes to be had. As Mondello observed: “The most terrifying thing about the movie, really, is that plural: ‘Originsssss.’ So many mutants, so much time. Thank God we can leave that for another summer.” Oh, Bob, I hope not. Can’t game makers just leave Wolverine and his blade-hands in a kitchen somewhere to mince produce for a few summers? (”X-Men Origins: Wolverine” by Activision retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP and PC; $30 for PS 2 and DS — Plays mediocre, except for a few creative fighting techniques. Looks just good enough. Easy. Rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, language. Two stars out of four.) Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at—Elfman.html.

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Fact Box

Top Ten New Games Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to retailer Blockbuster. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2. 1. “Mario Super Sluggers” (Nintendo) for Wii; rated “E” (comic mischief) 2. “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” (Activision) for PS 2; also available for Wii, Xbox 360, PS 3; rated “T” (lyrics, mild suggestive themes) 3. “Major League Baseball 2K9” (Take Two) for Xbox 360; also available for Wii, PS 3, PSP and PS 2; rated “E” 4. “Wario Land: Shake It!” (Nintendo) for Wii; rated “E” (comic mischief, mild cartoon violence) 5. “Dark Sector” (D3P) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated “M” (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language) 6. “Army of Two” (EA) or Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated “M” (strong language, blood, intense violence) 7. “Super Mario Galaxy” (Nintendo) for Wii; rated “E” (mild violence) 8. “Sega Superstars Tennis” (Sega) for Wii; also available for Xbox 360, PS 3, PS 2, DS; rated “E 10+” (mild blood, mild fantasy violence, mild suggestive themes) 9. “Wonder World Amusement Park” (Majesco) for Wii; also available for DS; rated “E” (mild cartoon violence) 10. “Major League Baseball 2K9” (Take Two) for PS 3; also available for Wii, Xbox 360, PSP and PS 2; rated “E” (Ratings: “E” for “Everyone”; “T” for “Teen”; “M” for “Mature 17+”)


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