I know it's a little bit late (sorry for necroposting!), but I thought I'd chime in here with my thoughts on Watchmen: The End is Nigh. I downloaded the game for the Xbox 360, and have played it through several times (yes, I'm an achievement whore). Would I have played it as many times as I did if not for the achievements? Probably not, but I don't think the game deserves half of the bad press it has seemed to receive.
I came to the game with no expectations - I hadn't paid much attention to the previews/reviews until after I'd played it, and maybe a fresh perspective helped my opinion. Hopefully my thoughts might help some of you guys out in your decision, or maybe think about the game a little differently. So, I'll break my thoughts on it down.
Story: The story definitely impressed me. Not only does it show a little bit more of the Watchmen world (and how it differs from our own), it really felt like it could have been the plot of an actual Nite Owl and Rorschach story, if it had been fleshed out a little more. While it would have been nice to see more of the other characters, this felt like it very much fit into the world of the Watchmen film without much trouble, and there didn't seem to be anything that contradicted the comics, either.
Graphics: The graphics are great. Colour wise, it struck me as very consistent with the film, and I was particularly impressed by the environments - the shadows, lighting and reflections were very well done. For saying it's a downloadable game, I was very impressed. The character models (while a bit repetitive when it comes to the bad guys) were also well done - Rorschach's mask was good, and while the punches and weapon blows didn't always seem to visually connect with their targets, the brutality of them came through loud and clear. Rorschach fights with a very dirty, brutal, and almost feral style, while Nite-Owl (II) has more strategic, strong and fluid attacks. Well done. The cut scenes were in a motion-comic style, and the artists did a good job of emulating Dave Gibbons' style, but I felt the art was a little sparse, could have used a bit more detail. One thing that bothered me was that in Silk Spectre II's very brief appearance, she was missing the characteristic mole.
Sound: The music fit. That's all I can really say about that. Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Wilson did a great job voicing their characters, and the quips that the enemies made were great (and had a lot of variety - even after several playthroughs, I'd hear the occasional line I hadn't heard before). I wish I could say the same for the voice actors behind Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre II and the Comedian, as they felt really phoned-in, but it was largely excusable (except for the news anchorwoman talking about Ozzy-Man-Die-Us). The combat sounds were good, in my opinion, and conveyed the "oomph" of the attacks. The crack of a bat hitting a thug in the head comes to mind as an especially good example!
Controls: While occasionally a little - let's say finicky, on the whole they were adequate. The combos were easy to pull off once I got the hang of the timing, but it felt like you should have been able to jump. Rorschach's dodge move always gave me a little bit of trouble (especially when trying to time a counter-attack), but it wasn't terrible, and again, just took some getting used to. I'm not sure how it would work on a PC, but the controls felt adequate on an Xbox 360 controller (if not terribly intuitive).
Gameplay: I've played (and beaten the game) both as Rorschach and Nite Owl II in both single player and co-op. Basically, the game consists of moving from area to area, beating the crap out of whoever gets in your way - from prison inmates, Top-Knots to mercenaries. Yes, it is repetitive - it's a straight forward beat 'em up, almost old school. I found it fun for what it is - it's not a very innovative or spectacularly varied game, but that's okay. It's value priced, and depending on how much you like collecting all of the combos and/or power-ups (some of which can be very tricky to find), you'll get a good few hours of play out of this, more, like I said, if you aim for all of the achievements/trophies. There's not much to this game other than running around and beating up bad guys, with a few platformy/puzzle elements to break up the monotony a bit, but I didn't find it got incredibly boring. The co-op mode, at least for me, was where the game really shone - it was a lot of fun to play the game alongside a competent partner, and really added to the experience. I understand that the no online co-op aspect is a big downside to people, and if I didn't have someone to play with, I could understand that, but I found single-player mode to be fun for what it was, as well. The final boss is challenging, but not frustratingly difficult.
Replay Value: Well, if you're like me, you'll want to get the 200/200 gamerscore, so there's some replay right there. Other than collecting all of the power-ups and combos, there isn't much replay value to the game - for the most part, with the exception of a few areas, there's nothing that Nite-Owl II sees that Rorschach doesn't, and vice versa, but it is fun to play through the game on both characters.
Final Thoughts: It's a $20.00 game. I know a Watchmen game in the first place is a bit blasphemous, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did a good job with it. It doesn't tarnish the comic or movie, or represent it badly, but adds on to the universe in a nice way. It's a simple beat-em'-up, like the old school arcade games, presented in 3D and current-gen graphics, and so long as you aren't looking for more than that, it does a good job with it. I urge you not to pooh-pooh it simply because it's a movie-based game, or after the demo, as the demo is exceedingly good at representing the game poorly - the first level is easily the blandest and least fun of the 6, and I found things didn't get really fun until I collected more of the combos.
I have run into a few bugs and glitches, but none, in my experience, that were game breaking (although one did make getting the speed run achievement impossible on two run-throughs), and the way achievements are handed out in single-player mode is confusing and frustrating - some achievements (for example, the ones given for beating the game as one of the two characters) simply aren't awarded for beating the game in co-op mode.
Over all? I'd give the game a 7 out of 10. Not the best game ever by far, but a fun little beat 'em up, and definitely a very fun co-op beat 'em up. I look forward to the next installments!
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning int the darkness of mere being."
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