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Game Profile
7 Studios
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-4
June 27, 2005
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four

More in this Series
 Written by Vadim Leonov  on July 26, 2005

Review: It's clobberin' time? literally.

Every big movie release seems to be accompanied by a video game based on the film, and this has certainly been the case with superhero movies. X-Men Legends, Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2 and The Hulk are just a handful of games that immediately come to mind when one thinks of superhero movies/video games. Fantastic Four the movie was recently released in theaters across the world and? surprise, surprise? Fantastic Four the video game was released at the same time. You are probably wondering, "Is this game truly that fantastic?"

Fantastic Four is loosely based on the movie, as the developers decided to add some passages from the comic books in order to increase the game's longevity. The basic plot involves Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johny Storm, Sue Storm and Victor Von Doom traveling on a space ship, when all of a sudden a freak accident occurs. Their DNA is altered, which gives all of them super powers. Reed gains the ability to bend and stretch his body into any possible manner and becomes known as Mr. Fantastic. Grimm transforms into The Thing, a rock-like Hulk character with an attitude. Sue Storm turns into Invisible Woman, can turn invisible, and uses force fields to her advantage. Johny becomes the Human Torch, can levitate, and use fireballs to combat evil. Together, these characters become the Fantastic Four and they trek through ten levels, rescuing citizens and defeating a plethora of enemies along the way, even the treacherous Dr. Doom.

Fantastic Four, the game, allows you to control any of the four characters, depending on who is on the screen. Some missions involve controlling one character, some have two, while boss fights have all four characters fighting together. All of the characters have six specific combo moves, as well as three unique cosmic powers. For example, the Human Torch can heave fireballs, while The Thing can throw his body on the ground to do some heavy damage. All of these moves are upgradeable, and they are improved using a point system. Whenever you kill an enemy, you earn some points, and these points can be used to upgrade moves or purchase bonuses. However, cosmic powers deplete the hero's cosmic power energy meter, so you can't perform just cosmic powers all the time. Besides these combos, characters are also equipped with a wide array of punches, kicks and grabs. Virtually any object or enemy can be picked up and smashed to pieces. Even a super move can be accessed by successfully completing a bunch of combos. Characters even work together at times, as one character might grab an enemy while another punches it.

Although there are a few puzzles here and there, Fantastic Four is mostly a third-person action game. The game's ten levels, which are broken down into roughly 5 sub-levels, are filled with dozens of enemies. Each sub-level has a set of primary, secondary and bonus goals. Each sub-level also has an F4 secret, the collection of which unlocks even more bonuses. The sub-levels in each level feature a common theme, such as New York City, a museum, a vault and a spaceship. As I mentioned earlier, there are dozens of enemies attacking you at all times. Stealth plays absolutely no role in this game, as it is just absolute mayhem. Enemies come at you in packs, so mashing buttons is the order of the day. Mummies, robots, dinosaurs, droids and dragons are just a handful of creatures that you will encounter throughout the game. The levels culminate with a huge boss fight. To make the action less repetitive, there is always a weakness that each boss possesses. Without finding out what this weakness is, defeating the boss is nearly impossible.

The developers gave this game the necessary Fantastic Four feel with the upgradeable cosmic powers. However, there are times when you don't get to perform the special moves yourself. Some of the cool moves are performed only through the aid of hotspots. These are different colored glowing spots on the ground, each one corresponding to a specific character. When a character runs over there, the character must play one of four mini-games. If you are successful, then a cut-scene will be shown with the character executing the move. The mini-games range from tapping the A button as fast as you can, to rotating the thumbstick as fast as you can, to matching some circles on the screen. All of them are incredible easy, and your reward is the character doing something for you. In one level, The Thing had a hotspot, after which he picked up a truck and threw it at a throng of enemies. It would have been way cooler if I could have done this by myself. As a matter of fact, the game tends to guide you along, telling you what to do way too often, making the game less challenging that it could have been.

Beating the game by yourself shouldn't take you much time at all. On the medium difficulty setting, it took me no more than six, maybe seven hours to beat the game. Granted, I didn't complete all of the bonus missions and I didn't find all of the F4 secrets, but chances are, neither will you. To extend replay value, the developers added a co-op mode, where you can go through the game with a friend at your side. Even in stages where only one of the Fantastic Four is in action, a sidekick in the form of a droid acts as the second player. Not a bad idea, but it doesn't turn this into a great multi-player title.

An Arena Fight mode was also included, which is actually quite fun for a while. There's a practice room, but the real action takes place in the Survival Mode. Here you take on as many enemies as possible until you die, strictly for high score purposes. This can even be played with two players fighting each other. And finally, the developers added a bunch of bonuses that you can unlock with the points you acquire during the actual game. You can unlock all sorts of goodies, including a few extra levels, production art, interviews with the actors, an Ultimate Spider-Man trailer, interviews with Stan Lee, pages from the original comic books and comic books covers. All of these are nice to have, especially the interview with Jessica Alba.

Graphically, I was disappointed with what Fantastic Four showed me. The character models were hit-or-miss, with The Thing and Mr. Fantastic being hits, and the Human Torch and Invisible Woman being the misses. Invisible Woman looks almost nothing like Jessica Alba in the movie, which is a shame. The character movements were smooth and fluid, although too much on-screen action led to visible slowdown. In one particular level as the Human Torch, with the burning museum and dinosaurs running around me, there was a lot of slowdown. I had a few quirks with the camera, too, as there was more than one occasion where the camera would get stuck behind an object, and there were even times when the camera couldn't be moved at all. The targeting system could have also been worked on, as it was too complex for my liking and resulted in a few cosmic power misses. The levels themselves were fairly detailed in appearance, but I didn't like the way they limited your movement. In one of the jungle levels, there were flowers next to you, but you couldn't go there as a virtual barrier was put in place. This merely makes the game as linear as possible.

As for the sound department, it certainly wasn't one of the game's highlights. All of the actors from the movie did a few sessions in the studio for the game, which is always great. This adds a lot of authenticity to the game, and ties in the movie with the game. However, I didn't like the way the dialogue was delivered. Instead of cut-scenes in between levels all the time, there were a bunch of times when you would have to press a button after every line of dialogue. It's like text scrolling with recorded audio. This sets the stage for some awkward oral sequences and disturbs the flow of the dialogue. The sound effects are your typical set of punches, explosions and object smashes, although the quantity of effects was surprisingly large. As for the music, it didn't quite fit in with the game at all times. The guitar riffs were very early ?90s, and some of the music was flat out annoying (especially the level in New York).

Bottom Line
Fantastic Four is yet another game based on a movie that was rushed to coincide with the release of the film. With a little more polish, Fantastic Four could have been quite a game. However, issues such as the camera, the short length and repetitive nature of the game keep it from being a game to remember. Although Fantastic Four is definitely a fun game that almost everyone will enjoy, I recommend renting this one. It is rumored that a sequel is in the works, and hopefully the sequel will turn out to be a bit more polished.

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