I got a chance to play Rise of the Manhunters, the Green Lantern movie tie-in game for X-Box 360. Now I’ve played some superhero games in the past that didn’t live up to the character they were trying to recreate, so I went in with a lot of expectations (some might say demands) for the game. Here’s a list of specific (and largely unreasonable) things I wanted out of this video-type-game
- Green Lantern is a supercool space cop in space, so I want a game that will allow me to have awesome adventures in alien planets
- Green Lantern has the most powerful weapon in the universe, so I want a game that will let me explore what it’s like to use the Green Lantern ring
- That said, I want an action game, not LEGO STARWARS, ATTACK OF THE MANHUNTERS, not that there’s anything wrong with Lego games, but I don’t want exclusively a context-sensitive press-X game.
- Since a video game has more time to expand everything I want to see more of the Corps than Sinestro, Tomar Re and Killowog.
- I want a Green Lanterny story, not a videogamy story, I don’t want to collect the seven glowing orbs of Killowog. (in fact I don’t want to go anywhere near Killowog’s orbs)
We’ll see how the game did as we advance through the review
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters contains the following:
- 1 (one) Case
- 1 (one) Instruction booklet that I didn’t read until after I had beaten 3 levels
- 2 (two) Green Lantern mask-shaped cardboard 3D glasses
- 1(one) Six Flags coupon
- 1 (one) Game disk
The 3D glasses are cute and a really good idea, more on the 3D gameplay later.
GL:RotMH (pronounced “Hillary Rodham”) is a pretty straight-forward, linear beat-em-up game. You play Hal Jordan as he fights back against the Manhunter invasion of Oa (and other planets). Racking up experience points which you can then use to learn new “constructs” such as “Buzz Saw” and “Mech Suit”. This right here is what gives the game its charm. In most games of this type you basically Mash X (or Q, or ▲, or Σ) and as you get better upgrades you are able to mash faster and deal more damage while mashing. “Rise”, however doesn’t operate solely on that model, Each construct is used differently, some are close area-of-effect attacks, others ranged single-target blasts and others, still simply juggle or stun an enemy allowing you to combo your other constructs. This allows the player to create a customizable play style, personally I’m a fan of gatling gun +air dodge until the enemies get close, then giant hammer, but I’ll vouch for the fact that other styles are clearly just as viable. I will say that the initial few minutes of play were somewhat jarring, since the opening cinematics have Hal flying around all over the place, but during the game you can’t fly around freely. you can hover more-or-less indefinately if you jump and start spamming attacks, but I was annoyed by the fact that Green Lantern wasn’t flying around. I think is an unfortunate, but legitimate decision the creators had to make in order to keep the game’s suspension of disbelief under control. Trust me, Hal not flying around is way more believable than invisible forcefields delineating every path. Which leads me to a surprising bit of gameplay.
DO A BARREL ROLL!
So in between the punchytime levels there are Star-Fox-like flying levels. I was taken by surprise by this bit of gameplay, and I enjoy it. It comes across as an apology from the game designers as well as a cute mini-game to break up the standard levels. There’s not much to these, for example, you can’t buy upgrades for your blaster and rockets while flying (although presumably global upgrades still apply in these levels) They also help the exposition as there’s a lot more talking during these than during the normal game as Hal calls up Sinestro to fill him in on what’s happening.
Wait, Sinestro? Doesn’t this game happen AFTER the movie in which Sinestro takes the spoiler and uses it to become the first spoiler spoiler?
Nope, this game has its own weird timeline, so I guess if Warner Brothers wants people who liked the movie to get into the comics this is a good stepping stone for them, you know, to get them used to multiple concurrent realities where something may or may not have happened before or after something that definitely didn’t happen. That said, it’s only really a problem if you try to squeeze the game and the movie together, otherwise the story stands just fine on its own. I will say that the ‘twist’ felt a little forced to me, especially because there’s so little character development it seems to come out of nowhere. I mean, you know the twist is coming, it’s just the twist itself is lackluster at best. That said, the plot is pretty decent for a video game, as we jump from level to level each move is motivated by the story, first we defend Oa, then we go on an investigative mission, then we go to rescue Killowog, all pretty organic. Also since the game gives writing credit to Marv Wolfman this video game has a stronger pedigree than most comics on the stand right now.
Graphics and Audio
Amazingly, the game actually features Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, unfortunately, it features no one else from the movie, fortunately it features Olivia d’Abo pretty prominently as Queen Aga’Po (obviously cast because they share a mid-name apostrophe). Killowog and Sinestro also appear, but no other Green Lanterns make an appearance.
That said, since we end up on Zamaron, the game does a good job of extrapolating the movie’s look to other locales. All the planets we land on seem different, while still maintaining a cohesive visual style. All around the game looks sharp and has a very cool visual style, especially when it comes to Hal’s powers.
I did try using the 3D glasses and managed to play for a whole 10 seconds before throwing them off my face. Now, I don’t mean to say that the 3D was poorly implemented to the game, all I’m saying is that level of focus on a video game that spends most of its time throwing exploding robots at you is too much for me. If you’re worried about eye strain, I’d steer clear of the (admittedly very charming) Green Lantern 3D glasses.
Alright, well, let’s see how we did.
Not bad. I’ma give Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters 4 whole stars. A solid beat-em up with added complexity waiting in the wings if you want it. Also one of those stars is for the Zamaron level loading screen, trust me, best loading screen in the game.