You’ve probably heard about the upcoming Wolverine: Origins movie. You probably also know current Action Movie Law, which pretty much states that every game involving some amount of action should be accompanied with a tie-in game on various consoles. The problem is that this Law doesn’t actually stipulate the level of quality said movie tie-in should be, leading to such horrors as Superman Returns.
Naturally, when I heard about a Wolverine videogame being produced, my reaction was somewhat ‘meh.’ At least, until I heard more details about the direction the developers were taking this title, a direction surprisingly unique in the mainstream superhero genre.
There’s going to be lots of blood.
This does make sense. Wolverine is, typically, a berserker fighter with incredibly sharp, unbreakable claws that has little problem with slaughtering enemies who try to kill or capture him. The comics featuring Wolverine have grown much bloodier over the years, which is inevitable when you have a title character that can pretty much have the stuffing beat out of him without dying. Still, prior games featuring the feisty Canuck mutant have generally been fairly, well, PG-13, as have most of the superhero games produced.
Take Spiderman games; the guy gets shot at, burned, knocked away, cut, smothered, choked, and pretty much hammered to a pulp. But, of course, the damage from getting damaged never actually registers on his fancy blue and red duds; they don’t even get dusty, and if he does die, it’s more like he’s lying down to take a nap. Same for the enemies he regularly punts halfway across the street.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe toned down their usually extensive amount of blood and gore, and I can almost guarantee that the Mortal Kombat side wasn’t responsible for it. Somehow, seeing Superman beaten with his own dismembered arms might be traumatic to your average DC fanboy. Hell, it’d be traumatic to anyone.
So, this upcoming game’s gore will be an interesting change, to say the least. Not only because you would be actually be dealing very real, very painful looking gouges to your foes, but their own gunfire and knives would regularly be chipping away at your skin and flesh, wearing you down to your skeleton. It’s meant to be a particularly visual aspect on one of Wolverine’s trademark powers, his healing factor; avoid getting hit any more, and you’ll see the cuts close up and the bruises fade away before your very eyes. Unfortunately, you won’t get the shirt you lost back until you level up.
So, is this unexpected turn for the Wolverine franchise indicative of a larger change? After all, it’d be hard to perpetually try and make a franchise in which criminals and crusaders beat each other half to death a kid friendly
I somehow doubt it, myself. Some of the more iconic heroes, Superman amongst them, would probably suffer from the brutality treatment in video games; imagine trying to repeat to yourself ‘I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero,’ while you burn your enemies to their bare bones with your heat vision?
Wolverine has always been a bit of a special case; the vigilante, near anti-hero who is more than willing to get his hands really, really dirty. Actually, considering the claws are on his hands, he sort of has to get them dirty, what with the gouging and stabbing. And, since he’s not bulletproof, or the sort to rely more on superhuman agility, his typical strategy for avoiding harm is to… well, not avoid it. To some extent, a game that features this particular hero dealing major damage and getting himself shot and burned down to his skeleton would be much easier to believe.
Also, yes, the geek in me admits that it would be cool.
Spiderman will likely still remain as it is, same with Superman, the Ultimate Alliance games, and other titles featuring other heroes. After all, a large market for superhero games remains the younger audience, and so the upcoming Wolverine title may be the exception, rather than the rule.