Actvision has really managed to cash in on its Marvel license in a big way thanks to Hollywood being in love with superheroes at the moment. That's not to say the games haven't been quality because for the most part Activision has avoided the whole cash in and realised that movie games need to be quality to sell. With Fantastic 4 just around the corner from Marvel movies, it was a given Activision would make a game and, well, they have. The game is almost finished, the movie is finished and is just a few weeks from release. Activision recently gave us a tour of the latest build and here are our impressions.
Fantastic 4, in the movie and game, will tell the story of how the characters in the quadrant gained there powers. (Movie spoiler ahead) A huge explosion in space causes a disturbance in the universe. The four characters are on a space craft when this explosion occurs and thus they gain various abilities and together can solve any problem. See what we're getting at? You have to use different characters to perform different tasks throughout the game.
In terms of how the game plays think of it as a more action packed version of X-Men Legends. Considering how awesome legends was, this was a smart move on Activision's part and for those who don't like the RPG side of things, F4 will be right up your alley. At anyone time you can have control of up to four characters and the DPAD will be used to switch between Ben, Sue, Reed and Johnny. On some levels though you do only have access to one or two characters such as the first few missions we saw which displayed how the characters discovered they had the new power and how to use them. These were tutorial levels but they didn't feel like it and were quite fun to play.
The game also will mix up the action with a number of mini games and button mashing games. For instance to open a door with Ben you may have to bash the A button or Sue may need to build up a charge by rotating the left analogue stick. They are small inclusions but help the game move away from being a button masher, as does the character special moves which are all based around their power. Ben can pick things up and throw them and you can combine the powers of two characters such as Ben holding a character while Reed punches them numerous times, it's really quite cool to play in co-operative.
The missions we saw were from a variety of areas from the game. Due to the movie not being out yet we were heavily restricted as to what we could see and generally weren't allowed to watch the cut scenes so keep that in mind during these descriptions. The first few levels were the tutorials which were quite fun to play but some other levels we played included a jungle and inside a museum. We played some missions single player and others co-operative. The jungle level featured some interesting graphics and was a boss fight which will figure in the game quite a bit.
Another area we saw was the inside of a museum which, considering the whole game is destructible, was quite fun to play and offered quite a bit of variety including the hacking mini game and a boss fight. The boss fight showed that it's not just a case of bashing enemies either. Specific points must be hit generally to do damage and it seems that there will be one character suited to each enemy more than others. Finally we saw the inside of a spaceship in co-operative mode which demonstrated that you will have to work together to progress. For instance, to pass a fire, Johnny will fly through, turn the valve off and then Sue can progress through. One interesting quirk is water will damage Johnny which shows the level of detail the developers have put into the game.
Visually the game is looking quite interesting with the character models based on the real world actors. They generally look and sound like those in the movie but it can take a little while to get used to characters stretching etc which in other games is generally a bug. The sound effects are looking ok with a cinematic soundtrack used and the voice acting seems to be well done from the short amount we have heard.
Fantastic 4 should, like Spiderman 2, continue Activision's commitment to quality Marvel titles and also offer some fantastic action ('scuse the pun). Fans of X-Men Legends are going to lap this one up, especially if you like beat 'em up action games.