Fantastic 4 (PlayStation 2) review
"I had no desire whatsoever to play the Fantastic Four video game. The movie looked dull and the comics are a bit too campy for my taste. But if Iíve learned one thing in the several years Marvel has spent trying to branch out, itís that the company is multitalented. The game wandered into my collection by chance, but it was by choice that my hands were glued to the controller and I found myself unable to put it down until the very end. Marvel has once again proven that it can make great comics, ..."
I had no desire whatsoever to play the Fantastic Four video game. The movie looked dull and the comics are a bit too campy for my taste. But if Iíve learned one thing in the several years Marvel has spent trying to branch out, itís that the company is multitalented. The game wandered into my collection by chance, but it was by choice that my hands were glued to the controller and I found myself unable to put it down until the very end. Marvel has once again proven that it can make great comics, good movies and mind blowing games to go along with them.
The first thing that drew me in was the unflinching co-op. There isnít one instance where you find yourself alone or on a solo mission. Even at the very beginning, where Ben Grimm (The Thing) is floating around the space station, he has a tiny robot tagging along with him to help him close the doors. Everything about this game is a partnership. Certain enemies can only be hit from behind, leaving you to draw the attention of them as your partner blasts them in their weak spot. If psychotic monsters blast the bridge out Mr. Fantastic stretches across so you can use him as a rubbery bridge. Run low on your hit points and Invisible Woman will wrap you in a Force shield, protecting you from any harm.
The co-op isnít only necessary in helping your partner survive, but in destroying the countless hordes of enemies that would otherwise seem impossible. Tapping the X and square button will only allow you to swing you fists, but when you hold R1 as well each character will release one of his super powers. Fireballs, stretch punches, massive elbow drops and countless others are at your disposal. When your characters unleash this at the same time--for example if Human Torch does his Fire Vortex and Thing does his elbow drop--you get a massive one hit combo that levels anything near it. Magma Crunch was a fitting title for that one. But there are so many more and the joy is in finding them.
But donít worry if co-op isnít your thing, there are a massive amount of super powers if you need that upper edge without a partner. As I said, pushing the circle, square or x button along with R1 allows you to pummel your enemies with cosmic induced mojo. Mr. Fantastic can stretch his arm all the way across the screen to smack an oncoming thug; Human torch can sling fireballs at an insane rate and Thing can pull off a mean, charged up shoulder block. Invisible WomanÖ pretty much speaks for herself but try sneaking past the buildings security with anyone but her.
These powers donít come in handy just for taking out the trash, but in progressing through the level as well. Some thug blasting you from the fire escape? Have Thing jump up there and shake him--and the whole damn balcony--down in a couple tugs. Metal door blocking your path to the next room? Meet Johnny Storm: super hero and part time welder. These little tasks are everywhere in the game. Sometimes itís pushing a car over other times itís latching onto a fellow clinging for his life off a building. Each one is conveniently marked with the characters color and a tiny four, so theyíre hard to miss. Youíre a super hero. Itís your job to save people so donít let them pass you by. And even if youíre downright evil and find joy in watching innocents plummet to their death, keep in mind you get points for damn near everything--even saving stupid citizens who get caught in a crossfire.
These points are dire if you wish to improve your characters. Super powers and combos can be upgraded. You can also purchase bonus material like cast interviews and comic covers. Building up stats gives the game a sort of role playing feel--and being an rpg fan--I thought it was a great addition.
So youíre not a fan of stat building, co-op or the fantastic four? Youíre still going to want to play this game. Keep in mind that itís Marvel who made this and they have been known to go all out in their games. Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and Chris Evans loaned not only their voices to the game, but their likeness as well. The character rendering is flawless. Every scar, every facial expression and detail is captured effortlessly and while there are no actual scenes from the movie you wonít complain. Every super power is a blast of visual ecstasy and the cut-scenes leave nothing to be desired.
The voice-overs remind us that talented, professional actors are behind the mic. Doomís impending evil, Thingís gruff tone and Torchís flamboyant attitude are beyond compare. Even if I didnít watch the interviews I would know the voice directors would settle for nothing short of perfection. If voice-overs arenít your thing, the intricate thump of fists upon flesh, the searing of super powers tearing through enemies and environments are enough to make you leave the volume up.
All that aside, this game is still a blast. I like breaking things. I enjoy smashing countless robots with rubber fists, setting mole-people ablaze with fireballs and dropping a rocky elbow on ancient Aztecs. This games fun factor is molded between exciting battles and an abundance of decent characters like Diablo, Mole Man and Dr. Doom. The cut-scenes and mini-games do an extraordinary job of breaking up the constant melee. Not to mention that virtually every element in the environment can be broken and switching between the four members just to cause a different kind of damage never gets old.
I have only one complaint about this game: It isnít long enough. There are a few things like survival mode and two secret levels that are available after itís over. Beyond that the game just seemed too short, but that could be because I played the hell out of it.
Iím still not a fan of the comics and I probably wonít go see the movie, but I guarantee you if a sequel to this game comes out Iím going to be the first one at the store. Everything in this game is proof that Marvel holds nothing back. Fantastic Four could go head to head with any other comic based game and hold its own. It not only burns right past most of the competition in its genre but also stretches the envelope of games entirely.
Community review by True (July 14, 2005)
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