June 14, 2011
With the summer season you can expect two things: big budget blockbusters movies and the inevitable slew of shameless game related tie-ins that go with them. By the same law of averages that says a room full of chimps could eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare, there is no doubt that eventually one of these games will turn out to be, you know, good. Heck, even great. Green Lantern is certainly not that game but the real surprise is that it’s also not that bad. Cue some shock and awe, but let’s poke around under the hood a little.
Thankfully this is not one of those games that follows the movie step for step, making it a spoiler-free experience, or a refreshing addition if you’ve already seen the flick. Instead the game charts one of Hal Jordan’s (the titular Lantern) first missions after gaining access to his kick ass new ring and body hugging suit. Thank the lord the ring didn’t choose someone with manboobs and a gut, right? It turns out that before the universe was defended by lovers of all things green, a bunch of robots called Manhunters kept the peace. In a shocking, but not exactly surprising, turn of events they promptly went bad and have now popped back for a bit of revenge pie. This will all be pretty familiar to any fans of the comics and pretty clichéd for just about anyone else.
Still, with the likeness and voice of Ryan Reynolds on-board proceedings do bob along quite nicely. His glib manner and little asides make the character and plot likeable enough that you actually enjoy trekking through the usual array of combat and minor puzzle solving. Levels are all decidedly linear but the variety is generally just enough to keep you from dozing off. There are also some Panzer Dragoon-style flying sections whereby you get to blow stuff out of the sky with wonderful regularity, although these sections tend to be extremely short and far too easy if truth be told. You can even bring along a buddy to step into the shoes of Sinestro and fight nefarious robot-style evil side by side.
The main draw is obviously the myriad powers of the ring itself. With the green energy able to take on any form that its wielder dreams up, which means it is a shame that the developers seemingly had such a lack of imagination, forming mundane objects like a hammer, baseball bat, gun or pistons and then ‘exotic’ fare like a mech suit and a giant exploding plane. It’s all pretty disappointing to be honest and you will find yourself falling back on the same two or three items time and time again. When your best weapon is a green machine gun then how is this game really that different from countless others?
Obviously such bountiful weapons aren’t yours from the get go, so instead you'll have to build up experience points to unlock new moves and constructs with which to batter your foes. Combat is never too strenuous as you can easily mix regular combos with your ring powers to devastating effect, though larger enemies require a ubiquitous button pressing sequence to finish off in style. It feels like it is almost becoming mandatory for movie games to have a QTE nowadays – perhaps there is a dummies guide to making these games floating around?
Aside from beating on peons you will also have to use your ring to solve various puzzles, though none of these are particularly tricky and most revolve around smacking buttons or a bit of simple fetch and carry. At least the boss fights are a bit of alright, though they either drift between the wildly predictable or the quite simply ludicrously unfair. Of course, learning the best moves in each occasion will reap dividends and your progress is never hindered for too long.
While you are consigned to the ground in most levels you can take to the skies on the odd occasion too, which basically lets you blast things out of the sky with ring blasts and green missiles to your hearts content. The only real issue here is the fact that enemies never seem to damage you too much, and the sections can be passed by simply holding down the fire button and dodging like crazy. Still there is a smidgin of enjoyment to be had and it helps to break up the general run of brawling and minor exploration.
The achievements are pretty drab, as you can pretty much snag everything in one run through the game if you whack it on the hardest difficulty (which truly isn’t that hard). Most of the points come naturally from progression or getting set amounts of kills with specific constructs. There are a few easy collectibles and one achievement for playing in co-op, so nothing too bad. The real pain is the fact that you simply cannot get enough experience by completing the game to max out your powers, so you have to resort to grinding through levels over and over again in order to max this baby out. A total pain, and one that developers really need to avoid.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is hardly a world beater, and it certainly doesn’t have anything that you haven’t seen before, but it is a strangely entertaining way to pass a few hours. The story isn’t overly long or taxing but you will have fun while it lasts and Ryan Reynolds helps to carry the plot with his amiable manner. The combat is fairly mindless but the ring powers help to keep things interesting and the variety of enemies and puzzles, plus the odd flight section, help to keep you engrossed. There are certainly much better games out there, but as movie tie-ins go, this is fairly solid.
Decent voice work from the star of the film, though hearing your foes spout the same few lines over and over soon gets annoying.
Decent enough, and the levels are pretty varied to boot. Sadly enemy models all look pretty much the same throughout and there are a few cases of foes getting stuck in scenery. Nothing game-breaking, but amusing nonetheless.
Straightforward combat is helped along by fun construct powers, though it does get a bit repetitive as you constantly abuse the same abilities time and time again.
Fairly generic and short really, so not really a must own game. But fun while it lasts and certainly a decent homage for fans.
A pretty bog standard list and one that isn’t helped by the need for some tedious grinding in order to max out all of your abilities.
This is a decent movie tie in, and like all blockbusters if you approach it for some mindless fun then it will not disappoint. There are better titles out there, but fans of the film and Green Lantern in general, will happily while away a few hours here.