They’re at this point literally dozens, if not hundreds of characters in the X-Men universe, but none as iconic as Wolverine. He’s been the face of the X-Men film franchise since the original came out in 2000 and has been the only mutant to appear in every film, as well as to have their own solo movie(s). Wolverine has also been the only X-Men to star in their own video game, having a solo game on nearly every major platform save the most recent generation.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine the film didn’t do anything to help the X-Men franchise recovere after the poorly received X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, in fact an entire movie was devoted to erasing it from the X-Men movie canon this year. Not everything about X-Men Origins was a total write-off however, as it did give us the single greatest Wolverine video game to date.
Origins, specifically the Uncaged Edition on the PS3/Xbox 360, was developed by Raven software, those who brought us some of the best X-Men games to date in the X-Men Legends series. Origins, though far from being the first Wolverine game, was the first opportunity a player got to cut loose in a bloody, “M” rated action game. In the past, other games starring the character encouraged players to keep their claws sheathed to regain health or to sneak around, but Origins encouraged players to keep Wolvie’s claws open at all times to dismember an arm or decapitate a head.
What this game also did right was the damage taken to the character. Wolverine’s healing factor has been a staple in many other X-Men and Wolverine games, normally shown by a health meter going up, but the character model in origins showed visible damage to the character that healed over time when not being assaulted by enemies.
WHY DIDN’T IT GET A SEQUEL
For a movie game, heck, for an X-Men game, Origins Uncaged received pretty decent reviews (75% on Metacritic for the Xbox 360 SKU and 73% on PS3.) While the game does drag in points and is a little long (not a common complaint among others game of its type) its action and combat was incredibly visceral and satisfying. The template with some further refinement could have lead into a series of Wolverine games, not tied to the film series, interpreting some classic Wolverine stories into the video game medium.
Whether it was an issue with the game being a movie tie-in, based on a universally panned movie or both, Origins didn’t sell that well. In the month of May 2009, according to NPD data, the Xbox 360 version placed tenth while the PS3 version didn’t even crack the top 10, placing 13th overall for the month. In the following month neither version were in the top 20 overall game sales. Later that year, developer Raven Software would release a reboot of the popular Wolfenstein franchise that also failed to reach sales goals, forcing them to cut their staff through layoffs. After 2010’s Singularity, Raven has been doing nothing but working on Activision’s Call of Duty franchise.
DID IT DESERVE A SEQUEL
Yes, it did. Wolverine was the first game that fully realized the potential of the character in a video game; No sneaking around, no claws in, just bloody mature rated action backed by a solid combat engine. A follow-up not chained to a maligned film given the proper time to gestate may have had the potential to be the Wolverine equivalent of Arkham Asylum.