Friday, February 09, 2007

Termite Games: Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005)

Pretty much the only video games I have time for at this stage of my life are the ones based on the comic books of my youth, which are also the comic books of my immature adulthood. Basically if the game has Spider-Man in it, I have to play it. And so I rented the awkwardly titled, awkwardly constructed and awkward-to-play Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.

Essentially, this is a fighting game that lets you (and a buddy, if you're the sort of nerd that has other nerd friends) beat the crap out of each other as an assortment of Marvel heroes and villains, along with a roster of characters created by Electronic Arts specifically for the game. Most of the EA characters are thinly veiled doppelgangers of the Marvels; for instance you've got some doof named Hazmat, formerly Dr. Keith Kilham (!!!), who injected himself with five different untested vaccines to survive a chemical attack by terrorists and eventually turned into a green guy who swings around on lines and crawls on the walls just like Spider-Man. Solara is basically a female version of The Human Torch, Johnny Ohm has electricity powers like Storm, Brigade is a big tough guy like The Thing, and so on. Paragon, who is sort of the focus of the story (more on that in a second) is not only a rip off of one of the Marvel characters (Wolverine) but also of the Top Cow character Witchblade, who she looks like almost exactly.

Look, I'm all for a game where I can play as a whole mess of characters and though I'd rather play with established guys I know, I'm not against the concept of these "Imperfects" (though their name sure says it all, doesn't it?). But by showing a total lack of creativity in "original" characters, by piggybacking off the Marvel guys that are already playable in the game, you're basically cutting the amount of different playable guys in half. And would you rather play as the real Spider-Man or the crappy guy you've never heard of that acts just like him and looks like Ecto Cooler colored ass? Exactly.

Though the characters are somewhat lacking (the full Marvel roster tops out at ten: Thing, Wolverine, Elektra, Daredevil, Storm, Venom, Spider-Man, Human Torch, Iron Man, and Magneto), the fighting's pretty good. The characters' moves are somewhat limited but they're well-animated, and attention has been paid to their unique attributes and styles. For my money, a few of these characters — particularly Daredevil, who's a karate-fighting, billy-club-throwing badass — have never been better represented, or fun to play as, in a video game. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty enjoyable to land in one of the seven different arenas and pummel some poor Imperfect into submission. Most of the in-game artwork is by Jae Lee, and man do I loves me some Jae Lee comics. The character design is pretty good too, though most of the women are alarmingly whored up. Here's Storm, who has worn some pretty slutty outfits in comics, but never anything this bad:

Can you imagine trying to stop an alien invasion wearing nothing by a thong? What happens if someone shoots you in the butt? Should that be EXTRA protected instead of less well-protected than normal? Yikes. She is going to catch a cold dressing like that. A cold, and possibly herpes.

Anyway, the game's creators make only a couple of characters available when you pop the Marvel Nemesis in for the first time; the rest you need to unlock by playing the odious "story mode," and here is where the game really begins to stink. First off, calling it "story mode" is generous; if this shambolic collections of cutscenes assembled seemingly at random were a comic, it would certainly the worst comic ever made in the history of the world. From what I could gather — and some of this is probably conjecture — a well-dressed but eeeeeevil scientist whose skin is covered in lacquer named Niles Van Roekel wishes to create a new army, and so creates the Imperfects. Meanwhile, simultaneously, a loose collection of Marvel's heroes (the ones listed above) stumble onto an alien invasion of Earth. Their plan? To wander around between the same seven locations (there's only seven different levels remember), punching every alien they come across. Eventually either they'll punch all the aliens back to their home planet or they'll die. TREMBLE IN ANTICIPATION GAMERS!

Since progressing through the story unlocks the characters (most of the good ones too, like the aforementioned Hornhead, plus Iron Man and Thong Song Storm), you're sort of beholden to trudge through to the end, meeting the faceless, generic villainry head-on. You're not even allowed to select the hero you want to use; each hero is assigned to certain levels, and after you clear those, you'll pick up the adventure with a different guy. That's good when you get to a character who kinda stinks (like, say, Venom), but that means when you're using a character you really enjoy, you'll eventually have to put him down to replace him with a character who kind of stinks (like, say, Venom). Each time you beat all of a hero's missions you'll have to play as an Imperfect and defeat the Marvel hero, turning them eeeeeevil. Cause, you know, a ballet dancing woman who can create earthquakes with the giant syringes on her hands called Fault Zone could totally beat up The Human Torch.

Occassionally, your forward progress stops so you can play "training" levels with a Van Roekel experiment gone wrong named Paragon ("DAMN YOU VAN ROEKEL!!! DAMN YOU TO HELL!!"). She's basically the perfect Imperfect, and at the end of the game, the Marvel characters are completely abandoned, so that you can fight Van Roekel in his BAD GUY ROCKET ARMOR OF DOOM (TM) as Paragon. You do, he sucks, you kill him, and the game is over. There is no resolution for the Marvel characters, who, last we saw, were mostly mind-controlled and eeeeeeevil. As game resolutions go, this one's about as satisfying as a hard kick to the babymaker.

It's pretty frustrating; to really enjoy the fun part of the game you have to survive the masochistic tortures of the boring first player mode. Reading about the game online I see EA's planning a sequel to come out later this year. I am not looking forward to that. But you know I'll play it. It's bound to have Spider-Man in there.

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Blogger shaquan said...

:O im actually looking forward to it, :P i just got into comic books and i guess i am a bit of a big geek XD. but i like it because they fight like they do on the comics eventhough wolverine specific other characters got "powered down" to keep the overall fareness of the game intact, to be honest i hated the fact that he had to use the stamina meter to contiue his super speed.. because speed is just who he is and he doesnt just runout, plus he always in berserk mode, so him going berserk only after you get into your powered up mode was a little disapointing ( i have alot to say ) :P

5:52 AM  

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