NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 07/24/2013
X2: Wolverine’s Revenge is a game that is very deceptive in it’s marketing. It was released close the the release of X2: X-Men United in theaters, features the “X2” logo, Hugh Jackman’s likeness on the cover art, as well as Patrick Stewart as the voice of Professor X. In game however the game is clearly related more to the comics, with the default costume modeled from the New X-Men era and Wolverine referencing events such as when the adamantium was removed from his body by Magneto.
Developed by Genepool software, a fitting name for a company making an X-Men themed game, X2: Wolverine’s Revenge deals with a fail safe from the Weapon X program in the form of the Shiva virus that has triggered and left Wolverine with two days to find a cure. The story, penned by Wolverine comic writer Larry Hama is quite good and you’ll definitely want to see the story through to its conclusion if you’re a Wolverine fan. It helps that the voice of Wolverine is handled by Mark Hamill who always entertains no matter what voice role he inhabits. Of course, it’s not bad at all that the above mentioned Patrick Stewart is along for the ride either.
The story will keep you involved in Wolverine’s Revenge, but it comes at the expense of unfortunately having to PLAY the game. X2 is a hybrid stealth/action game leaning more towards the stealth and it’s an odd choice given the character, at least for me personally when I think of Wolverine I think of action and rushing into a fight as opposed to avoiding one.
The hook of the game is the “Strike” system, and it applies to both stealth and combat. You hold down the L trigger to put yourself in stealth mode that allows you see the world using Wolverine’s senses, pointing on enemies you can get the jump on and traps like mines and cameras. This also puts you at a disadvantage as you have to constantly hold in the L trigger and you move slower than normal, making it hard to avoid a camera that’s on a swivel. It would’ve been nice if Genepool would’ve added an option that you could either hold the trigger in or toggle in to stay in that mode. As much as I dislike the stealth in the game, admittedly some of the stealth kills can be fun to watch play out. One of my personal favorites is pulling a commandos legs through a bed post while they’re sleeping and slashing them for the kill.
Stealth is your best option to get through the levels unscathed, but you’ll still have to rely on your fisticuffs from time to time. Combat in X2 is awkward outside of facing an enemy one to one. You’re locked into a position where you’re facing an enemy one to one where you can use basic punch and kick combos. When faced with multiple enemies provided you can line yourself up in a particular way (like an “L” shape or with an enemy to the front and both sides of you) you can hit the “X” button to do a combat strike. These tend to look cool, but do not really deal much damage or help in crowd control.
Every so often the regular gameplay will be interrupted with sections where you’ll enter a turret or take control of a combat droid. Normally these sections would provide the player a sense of empowerment and a break from being vulnerable, but it’s not the case here. In the case of the turret sections you have a power meter that drops incredibly fast and you’ll take more damage from a person with a rifle than an attack helicopter. When in control of the droid the controls are terrible and it’s difficult to aim the units guns. Similar to the turret sections the combat droids health depletes rapidly and when it dies, it does not spawn another droid for you. It wouldn’t be so bad, but when you get access to the droid you absolutely need it to clear a section and you might as well start the level over.
This leads into the biggest, most controller throwing, blood pressure raising problem in this game: there are no checkpoints whatsoever. So if you get to the end of a long stage, and there are quite a few in this game, and die you have to go aaaaaalllll the way back to the beginning. Needless to say you have to have a high amount of patience to see this game through to the end or be a hhhuggggeee Wolverine fan.
X2: Wolverine’s Revenge has an engaging story with solid voice performances hindered by incredibly broken gameplay mechanics. Had Genepool maybe implemented a checkpoint system within the levels of the game, I would regard this game higher but not as it exists. To think, we’ll never see the sequel that Genepool teased at the end of the game. Oh, I wonder why that never came to pass and why this is their only game.