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NYCC 09: Wolverine 'Claws of Olympus' hands-on


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Imagine this: Wolverine, body riddled with bullets, climbs atop a helicopter. He bursts through the window, grabs the pilot and lifts the body up to the rotors. The pilot's head gets shredded apart.

Welcome to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One could talk about the various nuances of its gameplay, but overwhelmingly only one aspect of the game truly stands out: it's violent. Really, really violent.

It shouldn't be surprising that X-Men Origins is so bloody. It is, in fact, about a man who has deadly claws coming out of his hands. For too long, the big-budget Hollywood movies and video games have presented a neutered Wolverine. X-Men Origins: Wolverine wants to tell the story of a man who's very, very angry at those that created him -- a weapon of war.

Gallery: X-Men Origins: Wolverine | 19 Photos

The insatiable rage of Wolverine reminds us quite a bit of another angry video game protagonist: God of War's Kratos. But the similarities between these two games don't end there. The combat is very reminiscent of Sony's game; many of the moves and combos in the game look quite similar. One particular move -- a spin attack -- has a very obvious counterpart in Sony's game.

Wolverine has access to a number of brutal grabs and finishing moves. Just like the Spartan warrior, he'll rip enemies in half, tear off their limbs, and skewer them on various sharp objects in the environment. God of War is a great model to follow, but Wolverine manages to feel even more visceral. Take, for example, the representation of Wolverine's health. His character model reflects all the damage he's taken. If he gets shot, you'll see a bullet in his body. If he gets cut, you'll see a giant gash. After a furious firefight, you can see clear into his body, with exposed organs and bone. It's rather gruesome, but it really emphasizes Wolverine's incredible ability to regenerate. You'll see his body heal in real-time.

One unique aspect of combat in Wolverine is how acrobatic it is. By holding the right bumper, Wolverine can lock on to an enemy in the distance. A press of the left bumper causes Wolverine to lunge forward at his enemy, killing him instantly. It's a bit over-powered, but it's a great way of traversing long distances and starting combos.

Another large aspect of God of War's gameplay has been transplanted into Wolverine. Both feature interactive cinematic sequences. While GoW has relied on QTE button presses, Wolverine tries to make these sequences feel more like gameplay. For example, when Wolverine fights a helicopter, players won't have to wait for random buttons to appear on the screen. Rather, they use the same attack buttons to claw away at the windshield. Players have to dodge with the same button as the one in regular combat. Cinematic sequences have their buttons mapped to mirror regular gameplay sequences. It certainly feels a lot more natural than God of War.

The combat in Wolverine is fast, gruesome and very satisfying. While it doesn't reek of originality, it is incredibly polished. Surprisingly, we also found that Wolverine also takes inspiration from another game: Uncharted. There are platforming sequences where Wolverine must climb onto vines, jump from ledges, and grip onto suspiciously convenient spokes on walls. Anyone that has played Nathan Drake's game will find themselves in very comfortable territory.

It's uncommon to be so entertained by a game that's planned as a tie-in with a movie release. However, Raven Software tried to alleviate our fears, saying it was developing this game long before the film's announcement. We're not sure if that's entirely true, but the game we played featured a level of polish that's almost unheard of in movie games these days.

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