Release Date: Out Now!
Developer: Double Helix
Publisher: Warner Bros
Multiplayer: Local Co-op
(Title provided free of charge by publishers for review)
DC Comics haven’t really had the greatest run of videogames (damn you, Superman 64), but at least they do have the greatest superhero game ever in their catalogue. Ok, so I’m talking about Batman: Arkham Asylum and not Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, but that’s ok as this game isn’t actually half bad. It’s not great, but for a movie tie-in you might just be surprised.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Green Lanterns, they’re essentially a galactic police force created by the Guardians. The Green Lanterns power comes from a ring that allows them to create “hard-light” constructs by using the power of their will. So, for example, they could create a giant hammer to smash something, or perhaps a bear-trap.Throw in some super speed, strength and the ability to fly and you have a hell of a police force. The Green Lantern that the game and film follows is Hal Jordan, test pilot on Earth, who is played by Ryan Reynolds in the film. He also lends his voice talent to the game and does a pretty good job of it.
In the game the Manhunters, the original protectors of the galaxy, have returned to cause trouble for the neighbourhood and it’s up to Hal Jordan to pummel his way through ten levels of tinheads. Along the way his mentor Sinestro will show up and so will his friend Kilowog, but ultimately they don’t have that much of an impact on events. It’s disappointing to see that Rise of the Manhunters doesn’t make use of the Green Lantern lore that’s available, but it’s not too surprising.
Luckily, Hal is actually pretty good at smashing up metal minions thanks to his Ring. When you start the game things don’t look that great, though. Hal has a light and heavy attack which can be combined together in very simplistic ways, but as you progress through the game you’ll get access to new constructs to play with. These range from simple blasters to fully fledged gatling guns and mech suits. Hell, later on you even get a massive jet which you can spam like mad to win practically any fight. These constructs can be thrown into almost any combo and can be cancelled out of at will making for a nice free-form fighting system. Watching Hal smash robots with a giant hammer is hugely entertaining, as is creating a mine and whacking it with a baseball bat. All these wonderful constructs are limited by your ring energy which needs to be recharged by…..whacking robots around. Nice. While the combat doesn’t have the depth of the big name games it still proves to be quite entertaining with new constructs coming quickly enough to keep you smiling – there are twelve constructs in total. And who doesn’t like throwing a jet at robots?.
During your fighting escapades you power up your ring which can be used for a Ring Surge when maxed out. Activate it and increased damage, better protection and infinite ring energy are yours to play with. Sadly this power surge does make a bit of a mockery of the bigger enemies as you can simply activate it and spam a few attacks for an easy victory.
Each enemy slain, smashed or otherwise injured yields XP which propel you through the ten ranks available in the game. These hard-earned (well, easily earned) points can be used to purchase upgrades for Hal. Upgrades include simple things like increasing the amount of hits a simple light attack chain can deliver to upgrading how quickly your ring energy fills up. New constructs can also be purchased via your XP points.
The game does throw in a few other things to try to break up the constant combat. A few simple puzzles intersperse levels, but are incredibly simple and won’t challenge you in the slightest. The puzzles may not make for a good distraction, but the flying levels do. Several missions in the game see Hal taking to the skys (or space) to blast enemies. You’re control of Hal is fairly limited; up, down, left and right, but he is armed with missiles and a handy blaster. For some reason he’s also far more powerful during these levels than he is on foot. How very odd. While they can be a bit hectic they never feel unfair and are actually pretty fun.
Despite being fairly competently executed the gameplay does prove to be the biggest flaw of the game; it’s repetitive. Though the flying levels and occasional small puzzle do add some variety to the game it spends the vast majority of its time making you beat up bad guys. The combat is enjoyable enough to cover the four to five hours of game time, but by the end you will be starting to tire of crushing the same enemy types over and over. Even the games larger foes fall foul of repetitive attack patterns. Hell, even the biggest boss battles use the same attacks that the smaller enemies use, though it must be said that the quick-time sequences used to finish these tinheads off are pretty damn cool.
A big draw of the game does come from the ability for two players to play through the game together in co-op mode. The second player which take control of Sinestro during play, and can drop in and out at while by tapping the start button on the second controller. Oddly, the co-op mode in this game can only be played locally with no Xbox Live support. It’s fair to say that they missed a beat here as online play would have been a perfect addition. It also feels as though it was tacked on later in development as there are moments where Hal will talk to Sinestro like he’s on the other side of the galaxy and not standing two feet away. This stems from the singleplayer where Hal would contact Sinestro using the ring. The fact this basic mistake wasn’t remedied could easily be called lazy.
+ Smashing things with a Mech Suit.
+ It’s a movie tie-in that’s actually not terrible!
+ Some kick-ass finishing moves.
– It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. I maintain hope that a film tie-in can become the best gamer ever.
The cutscenes look decent enough, but the in-game graphics are lacking in fidelity.
Ryan Reynolds puts some good effort into his role and it shows as Hal sounds good, as does most of the other acting in the game. The music is mostly forgettable.
The story is a simple tale of beating up bad-guys, but it does have a neat twist nearer the end.
It’s not going to amaze you, but it proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable adventure game with decent combat.
Around five hours are needed to complete it on normal difficulty, and even less in co-op mode. There’s no reason to go back and play through it again.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters may not be the best game ever, or even a great game, but it is a decent game that proves not all film tie-in games have to atrocious. If you love the film then you’ll enjoy the game, and for everyone else this is worth a look for a bargain price or rental.