TBT – X2: Wolverine’s Revenge
Wolverine has been a long-time favorite among us mutant lovers. Whether it’s Logan’s penchant for bloodthirsty brawls, or his near immortality, for some reason, the feral Wolverine leads the mutants in popularity. X2: Wolverine’s Revenge, while received with average reception, remains one of the most comic-accurate games of a single Marvel character to date.
Developed by short-lived British studio, GenePool Software (X2 is the studio’s only title) and published–of course–by Activision, it was licensed by Marvel, which likely lent itself to the game’s comic book accuracy. X2 marks the first time the hero had appeared in a game in two years, and prior to that, since 1994. While Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is featured as a cover image, Mark Hamill’s unmistakable voice was appropriated for the wild mutant, and Patrick Stewart reprised his role as Professor X.
The narrative begins with our hero’s origins, or at least, his adamantium origins. It’s a narrative unfortunately bereft of inspiration and twists, making it quite linear and without any surprises. An elite Weapon X team nabs an unassuming Logan and whisks him away to Alkali Lake, where the adamantium bonding process is initiated. Through a series of events, Logan–naturally–is able to escape, but not before The Professor (not to be confused with Professor X) who informs Wolverine that all Weapon X experiments were injected with the fatal Shiva Virus as a failsafe, and subsequently, has an unknown time left to live. It’s from here the game, and its title, begins.
For its time, the game boasted great gameplay and graphics, and–at least in this reviewer’s opinion–contains the most comic-accurate version of the hero the game industry has seen. Mark Hammill’s voice-over certainly assisted bringing the hero to life, but more than just vocal performance, his characterization within the script and gameplay was spot on.
An amalgam of hack and slash brawler, combat featured an array of slashing combos, fury mode, and even a stealth mechanic that worked quite well. Some would say Wolverine was most certainly more brawl than stealth, but a game with such player agency wasn’t something typically seen in action games, save for famous espionage franchises, Splinter Cell and Syphon Filter. This stealth mode was multipurpose; not only did it allow Wolvie to sneak up on unassuming enemies, it also let him use his heightened senses to detect things like minefields, or enemy path trajectories.
His claws could also be retracted by the player, allowing Logan to begin using his healing ability. It may seem simple, but still lent itself to player agency.
Missions were linear, but the world design fit the scheme well, built for either stealth, or brutality, players could utilize Logan the way they wanted. I personally started with stealth, whittling away at enemies till I was caught, or felt like going ham. Which was frequent, because shredding enemies with Wolverine’s claws was a visceral treat. Haptic feedback graced the dualshock 2 controller every time a hit landed, giving each blow weight, and when you’re slashing with fury, it certainly became a rumble fest.
Collectibles riddled the world, of course, hidden away from prying eyes. Some would give skins like the classic blue and yellow, his movie costume counterpart, or his staple leather bomber. Even the brown and yellow made an appearance. They didn’t offer anything in the way of game-changers, but it was cool to be able to change costumes. Galleries and other X-Men universe character bios were among the other collectibles.
All that said, X2: Wolverine’s Revenge was a blast to play. While it didn’t offer much in the way of storytelling, the gameplay remains some of the best-represented for one of Marvel’s most popular characters. It was solid and visceral and really made the player feel like Wolverine, something I think everyone would like to feel sometime.