Fantastic 4 Review

PlayStation 2

July 29, 2004 by

Fantastic 4 Image

Virtually every comic book superhero has their own video game. Often inspired by the release of a blockbuster motion picture, comic book superheroes have made numerous appearances in video games over the past few years. Unfortunately, a large number of these movie-to-game adaptations have seen a range of mediocre games being released. These often provided bland, uninspired gameplay that was nothing more than a quick moneymaking ploy. Such titles have given games based on movies a bad image, with only a small handful of worthwhile titles providing more than 15 minutes of enjoyable gameplay time.

Unfortunately, 7 Studios developed title, Fantastic 4, which is unsurprisingly based on the recently released Fantastic 4 movie, continues the ugly tradition of providing a lifeless and uncreative adventure that sparks little interest in the mature gamer. While the younger gamer may enjoy the simplistic, repetitive gameplay, those looking for a varied gameplay style with a compelling storyline will be hard pressed to enjoy Fantastic 4.

For those who are unaware of the details on the once comic book-based superhero team, allow me to fill you in: Fantastic 4 allows you to control four super heroes who obtained their unique powers after an accident that incurred during their space voyage. Returning to earth, the four awake to find that their bodies have undergone a rather interesting transformation; Mr Fantastic, for example, now has an elastic body that allows him to stretch and distort in unusual ways. The Human Torch, on the other hand, now has a body that is constantly surrounded in burning flames, allowing him to utilize the power of fire to issue attacks and perform other fire-based activities. The aptly named Invisible Woman is now capable of turning herself into an invisible form, evading surveillance equipment or dangerous enemies. Finally, possibly one of the most recognizable characters of the game is the Hulk-like Thing, who is capable of dealing tremendous damage with his now rock-like body. The four heroes are certainly an interesting bunch, although, the interesting aspects of the game stop there.

While you will be offered the opportunity to control all four heroes throughout the course of the game, a number of the stages limit you to the access of one or two of the heroes. As such, the bland storyline, which essentially involves battling continuous hordes of Dr. Dooms men in different locales, has been molded around the use of a single or duo team. Usually when a second hero is involved, they simple act as a sidekick during fights, allowing you to switch between the two characters at yous discretion. While this may sound somewhat interesting at first, the extremely ordinary battle system results in the game becoming surprisingly tiring rather quickly.

Each of the Fantastic 4 characters offers there own set of individual moves that must first be unlocked using your fighting points. These points are earned upon defeating each individual enemy, with the number of points awarded varying depending on the difficulty of the opposing creature. Each of the unlockable moves has been divided into two separate categories; slow, yet powerful moves and quicker combo-esque moves. Naturally, each move is suited to certain situations, such as a powerful move being used to clear the immediate surrounding area of frustrating enemies, while the combo moves are perfectly for dealing quick blows to single enemies. Unfortunately, while these moves have been designed to suit the characters individual appearance and personality, they fail to capture any solid interest from the gamer. Performing these moves is as simple as pressing a series of buttons in order which, unsurprisingly, becomes old after performing the moves two or three times. Considering that the game is largely based on fighting, the lackluster storyline fails to delve the gamer into a believable world, with the poor fighting styles further digging the player into utter boredom.

Apart from fighting tiring hordes of virtually identical monsters, youll also be required to participate in a number of context-sensitive activities. These essentially involve picking up objects and moving them to their specific destination, while other operations will require moving locks appropriately to unlock certain doors. These sections of the game are far from thrilling, and often involve performing the same actions numerous times.

Apart from the main story mode, the game also offers a two-player co-operative mode, which allows you and a friend to venture through the games single player campaign. The Survival mode is also available, which is an un-exciting experience that involves continuous hordes of enemies being thrown at you, similar to what occurs in the single player campaign.

Fantastic 4s failure continues through to the graphics department. While some of the cutscenes offering some rather impressive, detailed and fluent visuals, the in-game graphics are rather poor. Characters and enemies offer limited detail, often moving in clunky motions that look far from realistic. Furthermore, the environments found throughout the game are incredibly bland, often pitting you through scenery that varies little and appears to be repeated. The environments are also extremely linear, preventing movement significantly, which is rather disappointing especially during a lush forest level, with the only single pathway being limited to a few meters wide. One of the only appealing aspects of the game, which still appears to be absent in many of todays games, is that destructible environments is regularly on offer. During the early hospital stages, for example, you are capable of smashing furniture and potted plants till your hearts content, all the while setting the curtains alight whilst controlling the Human Torch. On urban street stages, on the other hand, you are given the option of ridding thugs on balconies by pulling them down or destroying the support posts. While these destructive abilities are far from revolutionary, they certainly are an interesting addition to the game.

While we anticipated a solid movie-to-game transition, the end result is a game that appears to have received little development effort. While young gamers may enjoy controlling their favourite superheroes, more sophisticated gamers who look for variety in their game will find near to nothing to enjoy with Fantastic 4.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.