reviews\ Jun 27, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Fantastic 4 - XB - Review

With so many superheroes seeing the transition from comics to film to video games, it seems only right that Reed Richards and crew get the same treatment. The Fantastic Four is the latest comic franchise to traverse the silver screen, and Activision is releasing a game based on the upcoming movie. The game features some great gameplay with touches of both the Spider-Man 2 game and X-Men Legends, complete with fully destructible environments and raging multiplayer action. While the game doesn’t quite feel as developed as either of the previously mentioned titles, it borrows some of the best elements from both to create a solid superhero experience.

The game follows the plot of the film as the Fantastic Four – Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Sue Storm (Invisible Girl), Johnny Storm (Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (The Thing) – battle it out against their friend-turned-supervillain, Dr. Victor Von Doom, or Dr. Doom for short. Along the way, you battle against other foes and gradually come to terms with your newly acquired abilities and, in some cases, physical attributes.

The game pushes the player through the storyline, giving them control over each member of the four at certain times. Occasionally, you’ll be able to play as more than one and up all four members of the team. You can switch between available teammates on the fly by pressing a direction on the D-Pad, similar to the system used in X-Men Legends. You can also perform a variety of combos and moves unique to each character. For example, the Human Torch can shoot fireballs at enemies and burn holes through doors, the Invisible Girl can go invisible and sneak past foes, and the Thing can pick up huge objects like cars and knock around his opponents with them. In another nod to X-Men Legends, you can perform team combos and pair up attacks with other enemies.

Aside from the straight up fighting, there are some mini-game puzzles that you must complete to proceed through the game. For example, Reed can hack through doors by completing puzzles where you must link up an electrical conduit within a certain time limit. Also, there are some reflex puzzles that require you to tap a button on the controller quickly for a few seconds to do certain things, like destroy a fire escape with a gun-totting gang member on it and so on.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a downside to the Fantastic Four. It borrows heavily from the top two Marvel superhero-based games, Spider-Man 2 and X-Men Legends (both also made by Activision), but becomes a bit of a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none. The combat elements feel like Spider-Man 2, but the game lacks its overall non-linear, free-roaming wow factor. Also present are the team-based elements found in X-Men Legends, but missing are the deep character development factors.

Graphically, Fantastic Four looks pretty good, with the characters bearing the likenesses of their film counterparts. The Fantastic Four character models are well animated, as Mr. Fantastic’s arms will stretch and flail about as he performs combos, and the ground will crack whenever Invisible Girl lets out a force explosion. The environments also look pretty impressive, and have a good amount of destructibility to them, especially when the Thing is tearing through. Unfortunately, the enemies look pretty simplistic and lack overall detail and the camera angles can get a little irksome as the onscreen action intensifies.

The sound department is pretty impressive, as the film stars lend their voices to give the characters an authentic personality. The music is pretty good as well, as the rock soundtrack gives the game a good sense of atmosphere. 

Fantastic Four is a solid action game and a pretty good licensed one. While the game doesn’t provide as deep an experience as other certain titles in the genre, it still is worth checking out if you are a fan of the comic series or if you are looking forward to the upcoming flick.

Review Scoring Details for Fantastic Four

Gameplay: 8.0
The gameplay is very fun, allowing you to rack up combos and take on multiple enemies at once. The team-based elements are great, calling to mind X-Men Legends. Unfortunately, the game lacks depth and feels pretty linear, making the adventure short lived overall.

Graphics: 8.0
Graphically, Fantastic Four has its high points and its lows. The Fantastic Four look great, complete with the likenesses of the film actors. The environments are also impressive and almost fully destructible. The downside is the simplistic look of the enemies, the camera issues and the overall lack of detail.

Sound: 8.5
The sound is great, featuring the voice talents of the film’s stars. The music is also pretty good, giving the game an edgy sense of atmosphere.

Difficulty:  Medium

Concept: 8.0 
While it isn’t the best superhero action game, it does borrow heavily from the two top dogs, Spiderman 2 and X-Men Legends.                                                                                                                             

Multiplayer: 8.5
The multiplayer is great, giving the deep team elements in the game. Pairing up and completing the game co-operatively is definitely the way the game was meant to be played.

Overall: 8.5 
Fantastic Four won’t take you too terribly long to complete, and the gameplay isn't too terribly deep or non-linear. However, Fantastic Four is still a fun game with some solid team-play elements that fans of the comic would do well to check out.


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