Fantastic Four Review
Fantastic Four the game is based on the events in the recent film, though some creative liberties have been taken to lengthen the game. The Fantastic Four were at one time normal people, but after an accident in space, they now have super powers. The Invisible Woman can, yes, turn invisible. Mr. Fantastic can stretch his arm to attack enemies from a distance and contort his body, allowing him to reach places others can't. The Thing is just different enough from The Hulk that someone doesn't get sued, and The Human Torch, wait for it, is not only on fire, but can light others on fire as well. Who says comic books aren't complex?
The game is essentially a brawler with some light, and I do mean light puzzle solving elements thrown in. Like the watered-down gameplay in Batman Begins, the game doesn't leave much to chance, color-coding objectives and making the interactive cut-scenes little more than rotating the analog stick or mashing the X button. Along the way you'll rescue helpless civilians, beat up hundreds of bad guys, and fight bosses - it's all standard fare. Sometimes you'll go it alone, and other times you'll have to team up with one of the other Fantastic Four. Teaming up is done by tapping the d-pad, having one character perform a task, and then selecting the other character and using their strength to finish the job. Like the puzzles, the game holds your hand too much during this process, but it does help add some variety to the game. Co-op play is available, and it does make the game more enjoyable since teaming up with a real person to get through situations is more natural than switching back and forth between characters.
As you fight your way through the levels, you'll earn points that can be used to unlock new moves as well as bonus content, like trailers, interviews, character bios, and concept art. The new moves don't add much to the game since you rarely have to do much more than pound the heavy attack button the whole time. The game is incredibly easy on the medium setting, so easy in fact; you can get several hours into the game before dying for the first time. The lack of difficulty stems from poor enemy A.I. where they'll just stand in a corner and take a beating without moving, and the game's slow pace. You can get bonuses from hurrying through a level, but there's not really anything to encourage you to move quickly - you can simply play it safe and inch your way through most situations.
Some decent visuals would have served Fantastic Four well, taking away attention from the repetitive nature of the gameplay, but instead the game looks no better than average, with the biggest problem being everything looking bland and non-descript. The level design isn't very interesting, and the cookie cutter rooms often make it difficult to figure out which way you entered and which way you need to go.. Explosions and fire are average, the animation is ok, the cut-scenes are serviceable, and the textures are poor. There's a fair amount of clipping, where characters walk through things or disappear through walls, and there are also times where they get stuck trying to get around objects. Throw in attacks that rarely appear to connect with their targets, and there are too many issues to look past.
Early on in the game the camera isn't a huge problem because there aren't a whole lot of enemies, but as you progress and you have to track multiple bad guys at the same time, the camera fails to get the job done. It can be adjusted with the right analog stick, but it's often too close to the character, and there's no way to fix that problem, unless you move away from the obstructions, at which point you'll have to try and adjust the camera again; all while trying to fend of hordes of enemies.
Fantastic Four uses voice acting lifted from the movie, but the clips are uninteresting and often do little to advance the story - they're just there to let you know you beat an area. Thankfully you can skip all cut-scenes with the X button and get back to smashing things. The music is decent, but nothing memorable, kind of like the rest of the game.
If you're a huge fan of The Fantastic Four movie, then you might have a good time renting the game over a weekend. If you're just a lover of comic books, other games, like Spider-Man 2 have been much better, so if you don't really care what superhero you are playing as, you might want to go with something else. Anyone thinking of picking up the game with hopes that it's simply a good game is going to want to look elsewhere - there's just nothing new here and it doesn't do anything particularly well.
8/7/2005 Aaron Thomas