Monday, June 16, 2008

Review: The Incredible Hulk - The Game

It's the oft-proven rule that games based on movies usually are pretty mediocre at best. I have yet to actually see the movie (I know, {geek_cred--;} ) and it kind of works against this title.

Overall the graphics are rudimentary, sometimes a little disappointing. Although the game automatically detects your desktop resolution and adopts it for play, beyond that it isn't that impressive. Most models are pretty simplistic, the textures are low res and visibly pixelated, and there's plenty of "SUDDENLY A TREE!" popping up where you didn't see it until you were 10 feet away, and overall the draw cutoff distance is very noticeable. There doesn't seem to be a way to customize the graphic detail at all, because there is no "settings" menu option... just start, and quit. If you were to remove the movie cut scenes (which themselves look pretty PS1), the whole mess would actually fit on a single CD, instead of a DVD.

Hulk sounds good (RAWR!), and the sound effects do the job, but I think they went a bit overboard on the voice overs. They probably had to pay Edward Norton a whole lot to do the voice acting in the game, so I guess they were trying to wring their money out of him by volume. I actually got tired of the sound of his voice (and also, I kept waiting for him to start talking about Tyler Durden and Marla Singer).

The story must sort of follow the movie (again, haven't seen it yet) but to someone who hasn't, it's disjointed, random, chaotic, and slightly frustrating. I suppose that won't bother those who just want to click "start" and have Hulk SMASH, but I found the half-hearted attempt at story exposition to be a frustration. It almost would have been better with no story at all.

Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat: The control scheme for the PC version of this game is just ridiculous. It can't be customized either. Seriously.. here are some examples... for hulk to heal, press 1, then hold the right AND middle mouse buttons, and then push "f" on the keyboard. W...t...f? Hulk has special moves and combos the game never really bothers to teach you about, and you're forced to find them out by hitting a brick wall and then just mashing buttons until you find what you want. Incidentally, when it gets to the part where it tells you "use thunderclap to defeat a swarm," it doesn't mean you have to use the supermove that takes away a full meter of rage, it means you can just hit 2, then right and middle click to make a small clap... but it never tells you that.

However, the RPG element of the game is kind of nifty. To unlock hulk's special moves and powers and such, you have to do special things, like jump a mile (to get higher jumping), destroy 100 cars (to get the ability to bend cars around your fists as gauntlets), etc. Really, powering up becomes the main impetus behind the game.

The healing factor though makes it so that the only way you ever are defeated is through the cheese factor. Like, say hulk picks something up and you can't seem to get him to drop it or face the right way or move so 3 puny humans crowd around you and you're nibbled to death by ducks. That's enough to make anybody turn green.

More than anything, the game put me in mind of my brute character from City of Villains. If CoV had a more action (instead of target and click/button) based interface, it would have been identical, aside from the fact that hulk can smash entire buildings and is actually capable of harming bystanders. The graphics are similar, the feel is nearly identical, and the powers are so reminiscent that I'd almost think Cryptic Studios had a hand in this.

The status quo is maintained. The game isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. Another mediocre movie tie-in. If you're an absolute hulkamaniac you may get more enjoyment out of it, but for the rest of us, life is too short and there are too many other better games to waste too much time on this one.

Grade: C

And that's the word from bandit camp.

Apparently this trailer is for the PS3 version, and I guess some of the shading effects and whatnot didn't make it to the PC version. ah well.


1 comment:

patrick said...

look pretty fun