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Friday, July 11, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 63.0° F  Fair
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GAMES

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is supernatural, but there's no magic in it
DS, PC, PlayStation 2 & 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii (Rated Mature)


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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 also the trouble with the slice-and-dice Wolverine game (developed by Middleton's Raven Software) 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'être: 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 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 (Liev Schreiber). 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 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?

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