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June 9, 2011

The Comics Console: Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters

As with all video games based on summer action blockbusters, I was nervous as hell when I popped Green Lanter: Rise of the Manhunters in my Xbox 360’s disc tray. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment dropped the ball in every way possible with their last superhero movie game, Superman Returns, and with the already bad reputation of superhero movie games with titles like Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Catwoman, I can’t blame anyone for passing by Rise of the Manhunters. But I think some fans will be very pleasantly surprised.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developers: Double Helix (360, PS3), Griptonite (Wii, DS)
Released: June 7, 2011
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS

Like all the modern movie games, Rise of the Manhunters takes place within the realm of the film counterpart, but tells its own story, separate from the plot of the movie. Thankfully for us Green Lantern fans, legendary comic book scribe Marv Wolfman pens this film inspired adventure. The story begins with Hal Jordan (already an established GLC member), Sinestro, and Kilowog paying their last respects to Abin Sur. Soon after, things get hairy when the Manhunters appear to attack Oa with a very specific agenda in mind.

If you’ve ever played Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, then you know exactly what to expect. The game plays like a slightly dumbed down version of Force Unleashed, which isn’t a bad thing. At its core, RotM is a beat-em-up, and usually beat-em-ups are extremely repetitive, which can end up being boring. But being a Green Lantern allows you several different attacks and weapons to wield with your ring, spicing up the action as you go.

Your meat and potatoes of combat are your melee attacks in the form of blades and hammers, but your bread and butter are your 12 different constructs. The constructs are very diverse ranging from a simple laser blast or baseball bat, to rocket launchers and a mech-suit. The animations and combos for each attack are all unique and very satisfying to preform. As you use constructs your “Will Power” meter will be drained, but the meter and all your constructs are upgradable as you gain experience points. Taking and dishing enough damage will fill your “Ring Surge” meter which allows you to enter a super mode that gifts you with a temporary boost in strength and Will Power.

Your enemies — the Manhunters — come in all shapes and sizes, from simple drones to juggernauts to giants, and so forth. Your missions all basically consist of tearing though all these different kinds of Manhunters, and yes, it can get repetitive, but the game does offer a change up in the form of a classic style rail shooter. As Green Lantern you fly through environments shooting energy bullets and missiles, and entering your super mode will have Hal piloting an F-15 fighter jet construct. These shooting levels are fun, but I wish the developers could have come up with something more clever than a used and overdone SEGA Dreamcast experience.

Marv Wolfman isn’t afraid to use the recent GL comic book lore, as you eventually leave Oa and journey to Zamaron and encounter energies from different colored Lantern Corps.

The graphics — both in-game and cutscenes — are good. My only problem is the camera is pulled far away from your character, making him look small at times, and I wish it were closer to the action. WBIE takes another crack at 3D, and just like Batman: Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year Edition, it’s cool at first, but the novelty soon wears off.

There is zero online support, but there is drop-in-drop-out co-op for a second player to play as Sinestro, and that’s really the best way to truly enjoy this game. But just a heads up, any second player Sinestros looking to cash in on some free Gamer Points, think again. Second player is blocked from gaining any achievements.

The game over all is pretty basic and even a little mediocre, but just a few extras could have made this a really cool first solo GL game. The soundtrack was absolutely forgettable. I actually put on some Megadeath while playing through because it fit the mood of swinging giant maces and firing a massive Gatling Gun. But the biggest crime is the lack of any kind of unlockables. There are no unlockable characters like Kilowog or a Guardian, and not even any costumes or skins. Why not throw in costumes for Hal from the full spectrum of the different Lantern groups, or at least a classic comic book style GL costume? How about some Guy Gardener, Kyle Rayner, or Alan Scott skins? It really would have made all the difference.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters isn’t a spectacular game, but it isn’t a bad one either. There aren’t any major annoying bugs or glitches that make you want to throw your controller at your TV, but there isn’t much incentive to play the game a second time either. The only glitches I noticed occurred in co-op when player indicators would appear during cutscenes, and disabled auto-save would glitch the level up mechanic, which is a big problem. There was even an instance where the second player’s life meter was completely depleted but he hadn’t died, making him invincible.

If you’re a huge Green Lantern fan, then you’ll find something to enjoy with this game, but you may not want to shell out the full $60. This is the perfect bargain game, and when it’s down to $20 is when I highly recommend this title.

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst


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