Comic books and video games. Two passions shared by millions of people all over the world. Bringing the two together makes perfect sense and should result in an overwhelming unparalleled joy…right? Well, then why am I feeling so much hatred and animosity? How could a simple equation such as Xbox plus Fantastic Four equal so much disgust?
Developer: 7 Studios
Released: June 27, 2005
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Cube, PC
The Fantastic Four, like so many other heroes, fell into the assembly line of a familiar franchise producing quick cash. I can’t imagine any hardcore Fantastic Four fans remembering Tim Story’s 2005 action adventure film as a true homage to the spirit and heart of Marvel’s fist family, and just like every other bad big budget action film from the last decade, an equally terrible video game adaptation was spawned. You would actually think a video game, going places and doing things a film can’t do, would in many ways be superior to a silver screen counter part. In Fantastic Four‘s case, it’s exactly the opposite.
It’s a no brainer that each of the four main characters should come to life in their own unique ways, and — to one of the game’s few credits — they do. Yet, somehow, Fantastic Four managed to hit shelves with a Galactus sized flaw that even in last generation’s gaming technology is completely unacceptable. Fantastic FOUR is only a TWO-player game. What could possibly be a more complete FF experience than gathering three of your friends to smash through eight hours of poorly designed and rendered levels? Most of the game’s flaws like empty and bland settings, simple and uninspired enemies, pointless and ill conceived puzzles, and mind numbingly repetitive gameplay could have been over looked because you and your friends would be working together for a common goal as the iconic Fantastic Four. However, we’re robbed of that opportunity in this first (then) next-gen FF game.
The game’s story does more to fill the cracks in the film’s story than offer something entirely new, which is acceptable. We get to travel to the Earth’s core and clobber moles and board the Skrull mothership to stop an impending invasion. Things that should be incredibly exciting are made boring and frustrating by the game’s dull beat-em-up combat system. With a heavy and light attack, along with a few special “gamma” maneuvers, you’ll X and A button your way through wave after wave of the same drone henchmen. As your Fantastic Duo changes with each level, you’ll have to work together with your partner is different ways using their unique abilities — and I’m not referring to signature powers the four posses. Reed Richards can hack computers, Johnny Storm can wield leaky pipes, Ben Grimm can lift massive objects, and Sue is basically useless the entire game.
The full cast reprises their roles for the game, which is usually great, but the already poorly written lines are phoned in by the cast with as much exuberance as a sarcastic adulation toward anal warts. And poorly polygoned Jessica Alba looks just as out of place in the cinematic cutscenes as she does in the actual movie. The two unlockable bonus levels that take place in Latveria at first glance sound interesting, until you quickly realize it’s more of the same boring garbage, only in Dr. Doom’s home town. The game encourages you to play through again to earn more points to unlock concept art, comic book covers, developer interviews, and a series of interviews by Stan Lee, none of which is worth playing through the campaign a second time for. Especially when there aren’t even any bonus classic costumes to play through in.
As massive an abomination as this game is to the beloved Fantastic Four, I’ll admit, it has its spot on my shelf of shame alongside Superman Returns, Thor: God of Thunder, X-Men: The Official Game (the brilliantly titled game tie-in to X-Men 3), and others. Thankfully, four-player co-op is addressed in the game’s direct sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but that’s a disc full of disappointment left for another day.
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