Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Great For Youngsters And Dads Who Wannabe!

After seeing the movie recently, I took my son to the local Best Buy and picked up a copy of Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He was excited about getting to play the characters from the movie. We had purchased the first Fantastic 4 game and he had a good time with that. According to the reviews I read, this game was supposed to be even better.

The graphics in the game are really good. The colors are vibrant and pop from the screen. There’s plenty of action because there’s always something to do throughout the game. My son and I were kept busy solving simple puzzles to open doors to other rooms and hallways. In between all that, we were constantly under attack from the bad guys.

The game doesn’t progress as the movie did. Although there are many references to Sue and Reed’s wedding coming up, the Silver Surfer doesn’t come into the game still much later. When we first opened up the game and started playing, and found out the first bad guys we faced were the Skrulls, I was really surprised. There were no Skrulls in the movie.

The game evidently had to put more villains and more side treks into the play to boost the game time up. Even though I was expecting gameplay to be quite repetitive, it became even more repetitive than I would have believed. However, it proved into retaining to my nine year old. He had a blast listening to the barrage of insults between the Thing and the Human Torch. (He played the Thing and I played the Human Torch. Ben Grimm is his favorite character, but that’s fine because when I was his age the Thing was my favorite character too.) My son also added insult to injury by coming up with quips and barbs about me as we played, definitely getting into the role of our onscreen personas.

The gameplay not only lacks originality, but it also has some very frustrating viewing angles. Sometimes it’s hard to see what you need to see in a room. I missed doors and hallways, but my eagle-eyed kiddo spotted them every time and got us back on track. He also possesses a phenomenal memory because there were times I would have gotten us lost backtracking and he insisted he knew the way. He did. And, of course, that triggered even more insulting commentary.

The one thing I missed about this game was the ability to fight each other. I would’ve loved flying his butt occasionally just to show him who the boss was.

The gameplay the lot like the recent X-Men video games as well as Marvel Ultimate Alliance. At any time you can switch among the four characters, trading off to solve different puzzles as well as taking advantage of different powers. There are different unlockable features to the game. Collecting tokens on each level allows the player to open up different suits the Fantastic Four have worn over the years.

For mindless playability, though, the game is great. You can pick it up and lay it down at a time. Of course if your son wants to continue playing and see what’s going to happen next, you’ve got a problem. The good thing is that you can quit the game for a while, let him forage ahead on his own, and pick back up with him wherever he is. Then you have to deal with all the recap he wants to give you about what’s gone on before. Most of which you could have guessed on your own.

The dialogue, for the most part, was pretty good. It kept the story linear as much as is possible (especially in a game that was so decidedly linear that you could lose track of who was doing what when out of sheer mindless repetition) and provided a few laughs.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer probably won’t win any game awards for creative gameplay, but it sure is pretty to look at and it brings fathers and sons closer together everywhere. While we were off saving the world, exchanging insults and beating up bad guys, it also kept us out of my wife’s hair for hours, which I’m sure she appreciated during the summer months.

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