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Watchmen: The End is Nigh
Playstation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)
$19.99 (PSN), 1600 Microsoft Points (XBLA)
It was inevitable that someone would try to adapt, what some people call, the "unfilmable comic" into a movie. It was just as inevitable that someone would make a game from that movie. Watchmen: The End is Nigh is that game.
Rather than doing the tried and true of adapting the story of the comic/movie into a game (can something really be called "tried and true" if horribly fails every time? I guess if it does it consistently, yes.), the developers have taken a different route and set it well over a decade before the events of the movie. In The End is Nigh, you get to choose one of two characters, Nite Owl or Rorschach, in their prime and beat up criminals, mercenaries and police officers as you try to track down the escaped criminal mastermind, Underboss.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh feels very much like an arcade throwback. If Final Fight was a movie tie-in and was made today, it might be Watchmen. The one thing that's missing is the extreme quarter munching-difficulty setting. That may or may not be a good thing. Those old arcade beat-em-ups were difficult because they forced us to shove more and more quarters into the machine to keep playing. But as a downloadable game, we would have paid for Watchmen up front... would we stand for a frustratingly difficult game? But what a difficult game buys us is a sense of accomplishment. A sense that it was worth the quarters we could have used for laundry but instead used to beat a video game. Besides getting to the end of the game, the End is Nigh offers achievements/trophies which shouldn't be the primary reason to play a game.
But if you're looking to play the game because of the visuals, you're in for a treat. The graphics may not be on par with some of the best games out there, but they're pretty good nonetheless. Each of the six chapters in the game has it's unique look and feel (although, that look and feel does repeat over and over again) and each of the chapters is broken up by a pseudo-motion comic cut scene complete with Dave Gibbonsesque art. (I do question why they didn't just use the in-game models for the cut scenes instead of having someone try to draw and animate an approximation of Dave Gibbons art...)
The gameplay is your standard beat-em-up affair. One button for weak attack, one button for strong attack, one button for throw... you get the idea. There are combos to be unlocked, but they aren't necessary to complete the game. The combos do offer some variety to the attacks, but I'm hard pressed to think of a benefit of using the combos other than the fact that the game displays the name of the combo on screen if you successfully complete the sequence. (But they're not even especially good names. Just things like "area attack" and "fast area attack".) You can also pull off finishing moves (when you've beat your opponent to within an inch of their life a button appears over their head, press the correct button and complete the finshing move!) which are nice to look at the first few times but become stale after fifty or so viewings. Especially since all of the finishing moves take place in slow-mo.
In spite of the overuse of slow-mo, one of the biggest flaws of the game is it's length. Clocking in at three hours for a single playthrough, and that's being generous, it doesn't offer much value for your gaming dollar. Even if you played the game four times (once with Nite Owl, once with Rorschach and once with each of the characters in co-op mode) that's only 12 hours of gaming. There are different paths and sections for Nite Owl and Rorschach to explore (Nite Owl has nite, I mean, night vision goggles and Rorschach has a lock picking minigame) but those don't come frequently enough and about 90% of the game is the same from both perspectives.
Let's face it. This game had a lot going against it from the start. Not only is it a tie-in to a movie, but it's a tie-in to a movie most people thought was unfilmable. It's not a bad game, but it's also not a good game. It does offer good visuals, but because of the extremely repetitive, short and repetitive gameplay and twenty dollar price tag, I'm going to give this one a "pass"
But since this game is supposedly episodic, if the price tag ever drops, I may consider revising my rating. I definitely don't think the game is worth twenty bucks even if you're a Watchmen fanatic. (Actually, if you're a Watchmen fanatic, just the thought of a video game probably makes you want to vomit.) If the game dropped to ten or maybe even fifteen bucks, then it might be worth checking out. Until then, rest assured, you're not missing much.
- Hey, did you know they made an arcade game in the 80s based on the Minutemen from the Watchmen comic? Yeah, they didn't. But in marketing the movie, someone put together a faux-80s arcade game based on the Minutemen. It's short and repetitive, which I realize were my complaints about Watchmen: The End is Nigh, but the Minutemen game is something Watchmen isn't... it's free!
- No, I'm not recommending some other video game called Watchmen, I'm recommending reading the comic. For the price of the game, you can get at least a weeks worth of entertainment as you read the comic. If you're like me and you reread Watchmen every so often, you can get more enjoyment out of it. In my case, over a decades worth of entertainment. (Or if you don't like reading, do like you did in high school when you didn't want to read the book you were assigned and watch the movie... you'll get about the same length of entertainment but you'll shell out less cash...)
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First Appearance: Another Videogame Webcomic?!? An Introduction
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First Appearance: Bonus Stage! Here comes Player One!
Damsel I. Distress
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First Appearance: World Record
John Minion, or Min for short, is the hardest working employee at GameBizCo Inc. Playing everything from Goombas to no name thugs, Min gets beat up on a daily basis but loves every minute of it. He always wanted to work in the gaming industry and was originally hired as an intern. After years of getting coffee, his big break came when someone called in sick... and the rest is history.
First Appearance: Watchmen: The End is Nigh
Middle Manager works in the Human Resources department. He runs staff meetings and interviews prospective employees. The other 90% of his time is spent playing Freecell on his computer.
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