Reviewed: June 28, 2005
Released: June 28, 2005
For a long time video games have been developed based on current movie titles. And for a long the games were bearable if not terrible. In the past few years that seemed to change after Activision released Spider-Man on the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. Since that release, video game movie titles have been surprisingly good games and now people look forward to them.
Like most of you, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the Fantastic 4 video game to coincide with the much-anticipated movie. Since it arrived several days ago I’ve been playing as much as possible and have enjoyed every minute of it.
In Fantastic Four players are be able to use superhero powers by taking control of The Thing, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, and The Human Torch. You plow through the game by using your powers through a completely original storyline which expands upon the movie's story. In addition, fans of the comic book series will surely recognize some of the additional special locations and villains. So, get ready to experience one of the best movie/game titles of the summer, Fantastic 4.
Fantastic 4 is an action game with some minor RPG elements mixed in. You play through a lot of very short and often linear levels with cut-scenes during and in-between them. This helps keep the story going and in earlier stages of the game helps you learn the basics. It is in these levels where superhero powers are used in some fast paced brawls against the enemies.
These super powers are amazingly cool and extremely fun to use. There’s a large variety of attacks, powers and combos for each character plus a special “Super” move, bringing the count to more than 40 moves per character. The “Super” move is the coolest and most spectacular of all the moves sinc, plus they are rare, hard to get, and can only be used on the level that you find them.
Another cool feature is the ability to switch between characters in the game, but you can only do so when they are available to play with. It’s an important feature because you will need it to perform certain tasks that are character specific. From scene to scene the characters that are with you vary depending on what’s happening in the story, so your actual choices of heroes is often limited to the script.
Fantastic 4 features some RPG elements which is initiated by killing enemies. Killing enemies gives you points which add up quickly and then you can use these points to upgrade any one of your characters. However I think it’s smart to upgrade all of your characters evenly since you don’t have access to all of them all the time, especially on your first pass through the game where you don't know who will be available for each level. In fact you can only upgrade the characters you are currently using so you may have to wait to increase their powers. If you make a mistake you can always Restart the level which will wipe out any upgrades you made during that level.
These points are temptingly evil in another way that can be described in one word, “Bonuses.” You can use the points you have obtained to unlock the Fantastic 4 trailer or licensed music from the movie. They haunted me every time I spent points on powering up one of my characters and had spare points. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to stay true to my characters and myself throughout the entire game. Now all I have to do is play through it again and buy all the neat extras.
Fantastic 4 plays well on the Gamecube and the controls are excellent overall. My only problem with them was why they decided to use the “Z” button instead of the “R” button when performing the characters power moves. As most of you know the “Z” button on the Gamecube controller is rather small and stiff. It’s not easy to push down on and is rarely used in games, but for some reason it was used here and it isn’t that comfortable. The jump button was placed on the “Y” button which may bother some people, but it didn’t bother me because of how infrequently it is used.
Graphically, Fantastic 4 is a mixed bag. The in-game graphics were extremely solid with nice textures and fluid animation. There were no slow downs and everything was crisp and clear with amazingly good fire effects. However when it came to the CG cut-scenes, they were total trash. They look like someone took an early 1990’s camcorder and video taped them in fog and then enlarged the already low resolution video. In other words, it’s not up to par with the in-game cut-scenes which look exceptionally detailed just like the character models and awesomely detailed level designs.
I really thought the in-game graphics were extremely well done with areas where the textures almost looked bump-mapped (on a Gamecube even!). I must note that not all areas were like that, but with the exception of the CG scenes the game looks very nice, especially the careful attention to the character design and animation. You can really tell the designers worked closely with the artists at Marvel to get this part of the game right. They even came up with some fresh looks for bosses who haven't been seen for years.
While Fantastic 4 sounds okay on a normal stereo TV it sounds way better on a 7.1 home theater system. After playing a few hours and only using stereo sound, I decided to hook up my cube to the surround sound system and there was a huge improvement improvement. I immediately found myself enjoying the game more and it also helps you get into the action.
The voice acting is incredibly good and maybe that’s because the voices were done by the main cast of Fantastic 4. Generally games based on movies aren’t able to get the big name actors to play their parts in the game unless they are contractually obligated, but 7 Studios did a great job making sure they got it done right.
Although the voice acting is good, the background music is rather bland. The generic rock riffs fits with the action theme, but it still just barely slips under the "annoyance meter". It does feature the main theme music from the movie and certain variations of it, but that’s the only real positive thing.
Fantastic 4 features a weath of fun content in addition to an original story mode, It packs in an awesome two-player co-operative mode. The co-op mode is what really sells the game and is where I had most of my fun, and even though I did play several hours alone, I still prefer the company and like they say “two is better than one.” Anyways, in the co-op mode 2 players can essentially run through thesingle-player story mode together and beat it together. I spent about 75% of my time playing Fantastic 4 in co-op mode and it was just as enjoyable as playing through Lego Star Wars. Each person takes control of a character and helps each other defeat enemies using a variety of solo and team combo moves.
You each gather points for killing the enemies which are pooled together and you both must decide how to spend them. Do you unlock the bonuses or keep powering up your characters? The variety of puzzles are small and you really don’t help each other out to much other than protecting one-another from on coming enemies, but that’s not the main draw. Fantastic 4’s co-op mode feels more like Gauntlet Legends with a good story or something similar to X-Men Legends. It’s mainly a fun brawler with very cool super human abilities.
Fantastic 4 is a fun and challenging video game, loosely based on the upcoming movie with a very entertaining and totally original script that expands upon the origins story of the film. The graphics may be hit and miss, but they are solid where it counts; in the gameplay, and the sound effects again, are merely average, but the two-player co-op mode is awesomely fun for gamers that are fans of the famed comic book series or action fans in general.
If you are looking to “Harness the power of four” and find a game that you’ll play through multiple times then look no further than Fantastic 4.