Activision held a press event on the eve of New York Comic Con to highlight some of the games they will be featuring at this year's show. Front and center was the action game “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the tie-in to the upcoming movie. The game is being developed by Raven Software (“X-Men Legends” I & II, “Marvel Ultimate Alliance”), and Project Lead Dan Vondrak was on hand to present a demo and answer some questions.
The presentation began with Vondrak talking about how “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” will feature Wolverine “as he always should have been.” The audience did not have to wait long to see what he meant, as the demo opened with a cutscene of Wolverine in a bombed-out building, standing amidst bodies of soldiers while holding one up and using him as a pincushion. He then began moving through the building, as soldiers in heavy gear searched for him. At one point, a soldier leans into a wall to listen for sounds of Wolverine, only to get three claws through the side of his head. From that point forward, it was a bloodbath, with Wolverine cutting through soldiers, lopping off limbs, completely eviscerating everyone he came across.
The cutscene then faded to an earlier point in time, when a younger Logan was being airlifted in to the jungle for a mission. He dove out of a helicopter and began free falling, which is when the actual gameplay kicked in. Logan dodges missiles on his way down to earth, and he lands on top of an enemy, who explodes on impact in a splatter of gore. Logan then begins making his way through the jungle, taking out gunmen with vicious attacks, which range from basic slashes, to grab moves where he holds an enemy up with one claw and rips him open with the other. He also impales enemies on objects in the environment, like tree branches or wall spikes.
After a while in the jungle, the demo jumped to a later point in the game where Wolverine is in full costume, battling his way through an underground tunnel system. At one point the tunnels get flooded, and Wolverine has to grab onto one of the escaping trucks, battling enemies who are trying to knock him off. The trucks are racing to get out of the tunnel as the water rushed toward them. Wolverine hops from truck to truck, taking out enemies as he makes his escape.
The demo finished with a scene that was inspired from the upcoming movie, where Wolverine faces off against a helicopter. He lunges onto the copter and begins to tear it apart, using his claws to damage the cockpit, He gets shot and almost falls off, using his claws to climb back up. After punching out the window, he grabs the pilot and holds him to the rotor blades, blood spraying everywhere. Wolverine then proceeds to take out two more helicopters before jumping down to the ground, as the last one explodes in the background.
As the demo faded to black, many of those in attendance applauded and cheered. We then had a chance to get some hands-on time with the game.
The section that was playable was the jungle level from the demo. The controls were very accessible, with normal, heavy and grab attacks each mapped to a button. It was easy to use the basic attacks and rip through enemies, but some simple combinations elicited much more satisfying results. Players can grab enemies and throw them, or use timed button presses to perform execution moves. Performing the environmental kills is as simple as using the grab and throw techniques while standing near spikes or branches. Racking up the kills unlocks new abilities, such as “Feral Senses,” which highlights a path through an environment, or places to climb to another level. There's also “Lunge,” which lets Wolverine pounce on enemies from a distance. “Lunge” can also be used with different attacks to create maximum damage. The gameplay was fast, visceral and blood soaked.
Following the hands-on time, CBR had a chance to sit down with Dan Vondrak and discuss the game. Vondrak said that Raven had been starting to work on ideas for a Wolverine game before the movie came about. “We actually got the team together and starting making some stuff in Unreal before the movie script was there, before there was even an official movie game,” Vondrak told CBR. “Basically, we said 'What if somebody made the best Wolverine game ever? What if someone totally unleashed this guy, and what would [the game] have in it?' So we kind of made out a white board full of ideas, and part of that was just the unrelenting, brutal nature of Wolverine, [we wanted to] get that out there. You know, we all have read the Barry Windsor-Smith 'Weapon X,' and that's the guy we're going for.”
Vondrak also talked about how the control system was simple on the surface, but provided a deeper experience for those who want it. “I think that's one of our strengths,” said Vondrak. “The thing we really added with Wolverine is the whole context-sensitive nature of the game. [People] just have to remember the normal, heavy and grab attacks for the game, and depending on if the enemy is on the ground, in the air, if you're in the air—all of those do something a little bit different. That makes it so easy to pick up. But we also made sure to include 5, 6 button combos, 3 button combos at the same time, to give people like myself, an action game fan, something more deep.” Vondrak also mentioned that “Marvel vs. Capcom” was an inspiration for the combat system.
As to how the game ties together with the movie, Vondrak explained that the game will provide a broader story. “We looked at what the movie was doing and expanded on it,” he said. “In the movie there's little hints about what might have happened on some jungle mission with Wolverine and Creed, Wade and Colonel Stryker, and we said 'Let's flesh that out.' We got Mark Guggenheim, who's well known for a lot of stuff he did with the Wolverine comics, to come on board and he helped us flesh out exactly what was going to happen.” Vondrak also confirmed that all of the characters from the movie would be appearing in the game, as well as some additional characters that are part of the Wolverine mythos. “Other iconic characters, other iconic moments that people come to expect from a Wolverine story that weren't in the movie—we added them because we're fans, and we wanted to make sure that stuff got into the game.”
CBR would like to thank Dan Vondrak for taking time to sit down and talk to us about the game. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine is schedule for a May 1, 2009 release on all major platforms. For more information about the game, head to www.uncaged.com.