Joystiq hands-on: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

When we first got our hands on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the fiercest of Charles Xavier's mutant do-gooders was carving his way through South America in a game that played like a mix of God of War and Uncharted. And we liked it.

We've now played a near final version -- once again starting out in the jungle -- and, well, we still like it. Luckily we got to see a lot more of what players are in for and found that, while Kratos probably has grounds for a civil suit, there are definitely plenty of unique elements to help Wolverine's adventure stand on its own.
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Another taste of the game's variety came when Wolverine battled a 200-foot-tall Sentinel.

The fully built-out and polished first level of the game gave us a good taste (and smell?) of what the ferocious X-Man is capable of. Which is, in addition to being super-strong, being able to regenerate his body, and possessing animal-like senses -- well, he rips his enemies to shreds (and rips off their heads, arms, legs) like nobody's business. We also came across a lot of conveniently placed -- and very sharp -- background objects just perfect to slam enemies onto with the grab button.

Part of the way through, an interactive sequence kicked in that had us controlling Logan as he leapt at a helicopter, used his claws to climb around to its front, then pulled the pilot out and held him up into the rotors, severing his head and coating the screen in blood. (Need any more convincing that it's gory?)

(It's worth noting that none of the screenshots or videos provided by Activision display the game's blood and gore. Wolverine is, at pace of almost one per every 10 seconds, grabbing an enemy and decapitating/disemboweling/eviscerating them using a timing-based attack.)

The level didn't offer much we hadn't seen and played before, sans a final "living rock" Golem boss Wolvie had to leap onto and stab away at. What happened next was a nice surprise (for us, probably not Logan). The setting changed to Canada, and the battle became a bar fight with Sabretooth. It incorporated pretty much every environmental object you'd imagine could be smashed over someone's head, including a telephone pole when the fight spilled outside into the rain.


We were told this admittedly brief scene was a taste of the gameplay variety to come later on. Another taste of it -- which we sadly didn't get to play -- was Wolverine battling a 200-foot-tall Sentinel. After strategically taking out the Goliath's feet and fists (while trying not to get squashed), Logan caught a ride as it attempted to rocket its way into orbit. The ensuing sequence saw him ripping parts off the robot using rapid button presses until it went hurtling back to Earth. Wolverine followed in free fall, dodging debris until finally landing on the giant and taking out its final core systems.

The second of the two areas we played was the interior of the Weapon X facility. This scene was Wolverine's enraged escape from captivity. We had to take out dozens of guards (while trying not to hit explosive objects), fight genetically engineered giants (these were almost exactly like the earlier Golem in terms of how they're fought), and use feral senses to escape the labyrinthine compound. Deflecting bullets with Logan's newly acquired adamantium claws was helpful -- and fun -- and we found his spinning attacks worked nicely in the cramped hallways.

While it wasn't especially useful in this environment (except to get onto the larger enemies' backs), we found the game's leaping/pouncing mechanic to be one of its most fun -- and handy. It's not only a combat move; it's used to traverse large gaps, spring on enemies below and cover large areas more quickly.

Raven Software says it's excited to get a chance to make a "true to form" Wolverine game. Well, we're excited to say we played just that. Heck, we're even more excited about it than the film on which it's based, and that's saying a lot.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.