The X-Men character Wolverine has always fascinated comic book readers for a multitude of reasons. Some attribute his comic book history, or lack thereof, as the main reason for his massive popularity, as comic book readers can't help but feel totally engaged when Wolverine tries to dig up pieces of his past. Pieces that, in all the years of X-Men's publication, have never seemed to come together totally. Others say the reason that they like Wolverine so much is because of his personality. Wolverine is rough, Wolverine is raw, and 99% of the time Wolverine has the same expression on his face, an expression that just screams "I'm angry right now, don't f*ck with me". However, this constant demeanor only sets the stage for the truly greatest part of his personality... when he gets soft. The moments when Wolverine calms down and actually reaches deep within are few, but when they do happen they are powerful. Others though still retain that the reason Wolverine is so popular is far simpler than his history or his persona... it's those retractable claws of his. They're long, sharp, shiny, and totally portable - what more could you want in a weapon?
Why you like Wolverine isn't what's important here though, as what is that Activision has a new game out based exclusively on the character going under the name of X2: Wolverine's Revenge. The developers of the game, Gene Pool, have made an admirable attempt to swirl stealth, action, and adventure gameplay all together in a big ol' pot, along with some Wolverine flavoring, in order to provide a fun and compelling third person adventure for Wolverine and non-Wolverine fans alike. So, the big question is, did it work?
In a word: No
Though the game does many things right, the general lack of originality and polish just drags the game down from being good to just being mediocre. The problem starts in the gameplay department. The game plays out much like many other 3D action games, in that you will roam around fairly linear levels while you battle enemies in real time and solve puzzles.
The problem that Wolverine's Revenge faces is that neither its puzzles, nor fighting, nor adventure elements are really anything extraordinary. The puzzles are simple flip-the-switch fare that does absolutely nothing to stimulate your brain. The combat is similarly lifeless, as while the action that you're seeing onscreen is quite complex, all you're really doing is mashing buttons.
One thing that Gene Pool tries to use unsuccessfully to shake up things is Wolverine's powers. Like in the comic books, Wolverine has the ability to heal himself, along with enhanced senses. Though it was novel of Gene Pool to give players the ability to use these powers throughout the game, they didn't do that great of a job implementing them, or deciding if they'd work within the grand scheme of the game for that matter. Take the healing powers that Wolverine possesses. While you can heal your entire body automatically, doing so requires you to wait for at least 2 minutes while your health meter slowly builds up. What does this mean? It means that you'll be spending a whole lot of time sitting around waiting for your health to regenerate, which really deters the pacing of the action segments and therefore dampens how fun they are.
The stealth fighting that the game boasts and encourages isn't much better. Though Gene Pool constantly tries to make you use stealth tactics throughout the game, the fact is that you really don't need to be stealthy to finish the game. Most gamers in fact will find it much easier to just blast by enemies than to quietly take them out.
The graphics the game is presented in are decent, but nothing amazing. The character models aren't especially deep, and many graphical effects, such as walking through snow, don't look very realistic or detailed for that matter. With the exception of the cool heat-sensor view given to you when you click on Wolverine's enhanced abilities, not many of the graphical effects within the game are that amazing. Character animations for Wolverine are fluent and look great within the game, although you get the distinct impression that there is a lack of animations as some actions that just scream for an in-game animation are left without one. A good example of this is when Wolverine falls off of a cliff; he stays in a fixed pose while he's falling as if he were still walking on the cliff edge.
Unlike the graphics though, the game's audio does not disappoint in the slightest. Mark Hamill does a great job of voicing Wolverine, and his great performance injects a healthy dose of life into the game. Sound effects are also plentiful and appropriate, and the orchestral score does its job by adding tension to the game when the gameplay fails to naturally create it.
When this game was originally announced, it looked like it had potential, but now that the final product is out, it's pretty safe to say that X2: Wolverine's Revenge is a disappointment. Though the gameplay is okay, it's nothing special, and despite the awesome license this game possesses, it’s sure to grate on anyone after a few hours. So, in conclusion, if you're a big X-Men or Wolverine fan go ahead and check this game out, but no one else.