As you may remember from last years crop of comic-book movie tie-ins (see Hellboy: The Science of Evil, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk), games based on films based on superhero properties are rarely any good. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had the potential to be different.
For once, it seems to have been developed by a group of people who were committed to the project, who had the technical skills to do it justice, and an understanding of what makes this much-loved character tick. This is easily the most blood-splattered, endless violent, dynamic take on Wolverine I've ever seen on the screen. The 18 rating has freed Logan from the shackles that have consistently held him back even on the silver screen (and that's not in any way to fault the first two X-Men films or Hugh Jackman's excellent performance in them).
Unfortunately, that doesn't actually mean that the game is all that great.
With the X-Men Legends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games behind them, Raven Software has a pretty good track record in the superhero game arena, and with Wolverine it has got an awful lot right. The last X-Men game, based loosely on X-Men: The Last Stand, didn't know what to do with the character bar send him through an endless, plodding series of brawls, battling from one dull chamber or corridor to the next. It was a game so dull and repetitive that I literally fell asleep while working my way through it.
Wolverine ups the ante considerably, mainly because - like Hellboy: The Science of Evil - it's an unashamed rip-off of Sony's mighty God of War. The action now comes fast and furious. There are platforms to navigate and the odd puzzle to solve. The combat system is relatively simple, but allows you to pull off a wide range of moves, and it was designed by somebody who knows that Wolverine isn't the sort of guy who wanders up to foes and hits them repeatedly, but the sort of guy who leaps, pounces, slices, stabs and dices until he's the last man standing in the room. Like God of War, this game also isn't afraid of a little gore. Limbs are hacked off; Adamantium claws are visibly thrust through mortal bodies. The claret flies just about everywhere.
What's more, this is easily one of the best-looking superhero games to date. Raven used the Unreal 3 engine for Wolverine and we get detailed environments, rich lighting and all the glossy surfaces or lush jungle vegetation you could wish for. Raven has even gone big on reproducing the ‘regeneration' effect we've come to know from the movies, with Logan's flesh torn away from his bones by sword attacks and repeated gunfire, only to grow back before your waiting eyes. The character modelling and animation is generally great, with the man himself bearing a more than passing resemblance to Hugh Jackman (unlike the digital Robert Downey Jnr in Iron Man last year).