July 13, 2007
Yes folks, that's right, here we have yet another wonderful video game based on a movie based on a comic book series. You know, this system reminds me a lot of the movie Multiplicity. For those of you not fortunate enough to have seen this gem (and I say that earnestly, I love that movie), the basic premise is that Michael Keaton has a doctor make a clone of himself to help around the house, but the clone comes out a bit different. Not a bad clone, but he's the "super-cool" version. Hilarity ensues when that clone decides he needs help around the guest house he's living in and makes a clone of himself, but this clone turns out to be a little "fruity" as it were. To make matters even worse (read: even funnier), that clone makes yet another clone, which turns out to be a little "slow" if you will.
Now, for those of you not following along, we have Michael Keaton (the comics), Clone 1 and Clone 2 (the movie) and finally Clone 3 (the video game). As you can see from the illustration, the comic books are top-notch, then the movie comes out and is up-played and Hollywood-ized (to make up a word for it), becoming both "super-cool" and "fruity" at the same time, then finally the video game comes along and is just plain retarded. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is no exception to this rule.
The plot loosely follows the plot of the movie (which again, loosely follows plot-lines from the comics, so we see the "copy of a copy" feel making things worse along the way), in which a mysterious being (Silver Surfer) shows up on Earth, leaving Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and the rest of the Fantastic Four (Invisible Woman/Susan Storm, Human Torch/Johnny Storm and The Thing/Ben Grimm) to try and figure out why he's here, and ultimately to save the day. The Silver Surfer we find is not the bad guy, his boss Galactus is the bad guy, but to make this game worse than I thought possible, Galactus doesn't show up at all. Instead, we get the side-bad guy from the movie to be the main bad guy in the game: Dr. Doom. Along the way, C-list villains from the comics such as Terrax and Red Ghost take part, mainly to give the game a little variety in the settings, where the Red Ghost missions take you into space and the Terrax missions take you inside a large mountain.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with games based on movies, or even games based on movies based on comics, but it seems like companies are just fine with putting no effort into them at all. Everything about them reeks of money-grubbing executives tricking people into shelling out their hard earned cash on a franchise they know and love, then those people realize just bought a compact disc that some guy in a suit took a dump on.
Aside from the awkward, terrible plot, the graphics and sound were clearly done by trained monkeys. When you think about next-gen graphics, you think about a woman's hair blowing in the wind, able to see every strand move (or something to that effect anyway), right? Well, in this game, we get a woman with four giant clumps of hair that don't move at all, except for when her entire body moves. Along with that, her face looks more like a geometric shape than that of one of the world's hottest actresses. The voice acting was apparently auctioned off to the lowest bidder as well, nobody from the movie appearing, forcing them to keep the cut-scenes short to make it less noticeable.
The gameplay itself is almost a redeeming quality. The fighting clearly got the most attention, thought you'll spend most of the game doing a single thing: smashing stuff with the Thing. Until I was forced to use their special abilities, I didn't use any member but the Thing. He's the strongest and just wrecks all the enemies. Scattered throughout the game are things you will have to use the other characters for, however. Things too high to reach require Mr. Fantastic's stretching, low barriers require the Human Torch's flight and laser grids require the Invisible Woman's... invisibility.
To make it more painfully obvious that each character is different (not only was the game made by idiots, they apparently think anyone who would play it is an idiot), they decided to give each one their own special level that only they could possibly get through. First up, the Human Torch and two "chase the Silver Surfer though a tunnel" levels that require you only to steer and use a speed boost once in a while. Mr. Fantastic gets a level laden with laser grids that he has to "stetch-vault" though and over. Thing gets to smash a mini-boss. And finally the Invisible Woman gets to hide from security cameras. Hooray, I've played as all the characters instead of just smashing stuff with the Thing now!
To try to spice things up a bit, a "fusion attack" system that will cause two characters to interact and do a special move when prompted was implemented, but for me it went unused once I got the achievement for it. Which was about a minute into the game. It would have been cool to see a 4-player fusion move, but once again, the Thing is so overpowered, all you needed was to keep smashing with him and you never run into trouble.
Speaking of achievements, most of them are extremely simple, just playing through the game. Aside from that, you are required to spend points that you receive throughout the level by collecting gold coins hidden inside rocks and boxes on upgrading your characters. The ultimate flaw in that premise is that you can only spend points earned on one difficulty, so you have to replay levels on Normal or Fantastic difficulty over and over before you switch to the other. The difficulties themselves need to be played through seperately to get achievements, doing it on the harder does not unlock the easier, another flaw found in most games. On top of this, there are silver coins and Doom spy bots hidden throughout the game to search for, making the achievements overall simple, but extremely annoying.
The one part of the game I did enjoy was the security systems in the Terrax levels and boss fight. A beam of light needs to be redirected through a series of movable mirrors until it hits a crystal to proceed. I enjoy puzzles, so that was a cool feature, but it was probably the only one. The other boss fights try to be interesting, but the whole "shoot something until a shield drops" as done in the Super-Skrull fight is pretty old, and I'm not sure why they decided to put a large machine in the middle of a fight with Doom that would knock him off the Silver Surfer's board so you could smash him. Supposedly the team just got there, so it wasn't their machine, and I think Doom would move away from a machine that could help his demise. Just a cheap way to plan a fight, really.
Ultimately, unless you're an avid Fantastic Four fan, or a child of ten or less, you'll see this game for what it truly is: a marketing plot to fatten some wallets somewhere. A cheap knockoff of a movie which was an expensive knockoff of a comic book, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is most definitely a rental.
The voice acting is terrible and not done by the original actors. The other sounds are overtly dismissable, because it's not that hard to make a smashing sound.
The game looks plain terrible. The levels themselves aren't that bad, and the bosses are alright, but for some reason the team you play as the entire game are horrible, especially during cut scenes.
With very few controls to speak of, if you can learn to hold a trigger down and press another button to use a special attack, you're golden. For some reason jump is mapped to the Y-button which feels awkward, but you get used to it.
For a game based on such a hugely popular franchise, it falls incredibly short. Some people might like the Red Ghost and Terrax characters, but they aren't even executed all that well.
Quite simple and not very time consuming, but over a boring list. Shouldn't take you more than 10-15 hours depending on skill and if you follow a guide for the hidden items.