"I’ve decided that it’s pointless to judge Watchmen: The End Is Nigh as a genuine narrative addition to the Watchmen saga, because of course it fails. The graphic novel is considered the height of the medium by nearly anyone who reads it, and was penned by Alan Moore, one of the greatest writers of the last century; the game was made for no reason other than to cash in on the mainstream success that the license only just obtained a couple of weeks ago with the movie. You’ve seen thi..."
I’ve decided that it’s pointless to judge Watchmen: The End Is Nigh as a genuine narrative addition to the Watchmen saga, because of course it fails. The graphic novel is considered the height of the medium by nearly anyone who reads it, and was penned by Alan Moore, one of the greatest writers of the last century; the game was made for no reason other than to cash in on the mainstream success that the license only just obtained a couple of weeks ago with the movie. You’ve seen this kind of thing a million times before. The difference is that messing with Watchmen is treading on thin ice, indeed – hell, just look at the uproar Zack Snyder caused when it was announced that the genetically engineered squid would be removed from the film. The End Is Nigh makes the presumably wise decision not to follow the original plot of the book/movie (which wouldn’t have provided a very excited game design), but that means the writers had to come up with an original story instead, and attempting to add to Moore’s original work seems almost like an act of heresy.
Then again, applying it to a brawler so painfully generic that the word itself seems flattering couldn’t have helped, either. Despite the overachieving visual presentation and cringe-inducing attempts to mimic Rorschach’s fractured metaphorical dialog, The End Is Nigh is so simplistic, so repetitive, so mind-numbingly insubstantial that if it didn’t have the Watchmen license attached, it wouldn’t even warrant a full-length review. You beat up some dudes, and then you beat up some more dudes, and you repeat until you reach the finale in which you beat up a particularly large dude, and that’s the game.
The End Is Nigh follows Rorschach and Nite Owl during an adventure of theirs in the ‘70s that was hinted at in the book: They’re going after Underboss. The two are side by side for just about the entire campaign and you’re given the option of playing as either of them, though Deadline Games must have realized that everyone will choose Rorschach and thus made him the better fighter of the two. (Nite Owl has the special ability to be really nerdy and lose his erection at the most inconvenient moments, but apparently there was no way to work these traits into the gameplay of The End Is Nigh.) The bulk of the combat is done with the two mouse buttons, bringing back memories of Manhunt, and that is NOT a favorable comparison. Despite the game’s attempts to convince you that the battle system is in any way complex (with unlockable combos and context-specific finishers), you can essentially clear the entire campaign by mashing the right mouse button for its entirety.
Is it fun? Well, no, of course not. I like that the combat has this gritty, down-to-earth quality about it, and some of Rorschach’s bone-crunching finishers are brutal enough to give the player an appropriate sense of power. But I cannot overstate just how monotonous The End Is Nigh really is. There are six chapters, and while their environments vary, their enemies do not. The thugs you slaughter in the first chapter are the same thugs you slaughter in the last chapter, the only exception being the final boss, whose lone distinction is that he’s a big thug. This is one of those games where the incredibly short length is actually a good thing – you can beat The End Is Nigh in about two hours, a revelation I greeted with a sigh of relief. Think of it as euthanasia.
I’ve heard that the game’s entire first chapter – set in a jail – is fully playable in the demo, so I suppose if you really want to experience The End Is Nigh, download that, and play it six times. Then spend the twenty bucks on the graphic novel instead, if you haven’t already. It really is as good as they say it is, you know.
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