Back in 1986 and 1987, writer Alan Moore, artist David Gibbons and colorist John Higgins had their limited comic book series published by DC Comics. This series turned out to be WATCHMEN. This comic featured troubled heroes as they dealt with the government movement outlawing all vigilantes while trying to discover the mystery of a murdered comrade, The Comedian. The graphic novel swept the nation as it critiqued the idea of costumed heroes and displayed how life could be if they ever truly existed. With all the publicity, the story has truly reached mainstream status with the release of its film adaptation and, of course, a video game counterpart. With the recent release of WATCHMEN: The End is Nigh Part 2 on the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, it’s time to take look at both the first and second part of this video game series, developed by Deadline Games, available for download (or for purchase at your local video game store since both can be found on one disc).
WATCHMEN: The End is Nigh Part 1
Part 1 takes place before the celebrated novel (or movie) to give players some back story on the two most popular characters, Rorschach and Nite Owl (Nite Owl II to be technical). There’s a riot at the prison and it’s up to them to put the prisoners back in there cells (by beating them into a pulp, of course). This is only the start of the story as the two protagonists begin their adventure. Once the riot is put down, they figure out something very suspicious is going on and they begin their search for the only man who broke out, the Underboss. However, if you’ve read the graphic novel or seen the movie, it should come to realization that these are the worst costumed heroes in the world and they’ll never see a happy ending or a concluded one. I won’t say anymore on that as to not spoil anything but the as the game tries to follow its comic book storytelling but fails in the end. The story rarely surfaces during gameplay and only sheds some light in the comic-style cutscenes but even then, many will probably not even care. At best, the game’s story is lackluster and will leave most likely leave some players with confusion and others with dissatisfaction (or maybe both).
The gameplay isn’t dynamic as well but it isn’t supposed to be. What the developers made it out to be was a classic style beat ‘em up with blood and profanity. Players are allowed to choose between Rorschach and Nite Owl, both equipped with different styles of gameplay. After choosing a character it’s time to run through the six chapters fighting wave after wave of goons and thugs. And that’s basically it so yes, it gets boring quickly. Sure, once you start the game and beat up your first eight batches of thugs you’ll have some enjoyment but when this goes on chapter after chapter it becomes tedious. Trying to mix things up, the game allows each character to perform finishing moves on enemies. These are really run as Rorschach’s are brutal and Nite Owl’s painful but there aren’t enough of these to continuously amaze players and with only one boss fight, the game doesn’t do much to impress. To break up combat there will be times when the duo splits up. This can be when Rorschach must crawl under a door to open it for his partner or when Nite Owl must use his grappling hook to get around a locked door. These do their job but they won’t excite anyone. You can play the story in splitscreen co-op but there isn’t any type of online multiplayer so besides that there is nothing else to do which really diminishes any replay value.
Now, with the two different characters the game does offer some diversity. Nite Owl is very precise with his combat and counters as he uses his martial arts skills to take his opponents down. His defense consists of blocking while his special moves deal with hitting the ground with a stun grenade and charging up his electrical suit to deal extra damage to surrounding enemies. He is also a much more elegant fighter than his partner Rorschach. The white and blacked masked man is a psychotic madman as he bull rushes and wildly punches with force. He doesn’t block attacks but he does dodge and roll out of the way. Rorschach is all about the offense as his greatest attack is his rage in which he yells out loudly and attacks with extra damage. He can also use weapons such as crowbars, nightsticks, bats, etc.
The graphics are amazing for a downloadable game. This was probably the best looking game on there before Shadow Complex was released. Still, the textures and environments are bland and it can sometimes feel like you are running down the same dark corridor or street over and over again. The character models of Rorschach and Nite Owl look nice but the enemies seem like carbon copies of each other in different outfits. The same two enemies will appear in almost every single level, one small and skinny and the other large and heavy. Just like the gameplay, the levels become repetitive and dull. I found myself sighing hoping for something new and different but I was given nothing.
The sound in the game is one of its strong points. Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Wilson, the stars from the movie deliver their voice talents to the game’s protagonists giving players a feel from the movie. Listening to the two converse with each other shed some light on their friendship before the film which was great. Hearing their voiceovers definitely boosted the game’s appeal to me but in no way is it their saving grace. The punches and kicks also sound great giving a brutal feel to each blow. The only thing I wasn’t impressed with was the music. The tracks were so forgettable that most of the time I couldn’t even notice it was there.
Only Watchmen fanatics should even think about buying this game. For everyone else, this is a rent at most. The story isn’t interesting like the movie and will leave many with an urge for more. The gameplay is fun but becomes repetitive way to quickly and the environments follow up right behind it. The sound is definitely one of the best parts but it doesn’t redeem all of the faults the game has. To everyone, you may find some enjoyment out of it for a little while but in the long run it will just be another arcade game taking up space on your hard drive.
WATCHMEN: The End is Nigh Part 2
Recently released for download, many hoped that this game would build upon the first part, have less repetitive gameplay and deliver gamers some online play with a better story. Did it follow through?
The story is definitely much clearer this time around. A young female named Violet Greene is kidnapped and forced into sexual practices. Her parents are sent a video of this so Rorschach goes on the hunt to get her back with a reluctant Nite Owl. Their trail lands on that of Twilight Lady, a seductress who has a past with Nite Owl. She has apparently brainwashed Violet into liking her job as a prostitute and now Rorschach and Nite Owl must put an end to her spree, one wishing to kill her while the other only wishes justice (I’ll let you figure out which costumed hero wants which). The story is straightforward but it still isn’t very interesting. It felt just like another comic book story where a girl gets kidnapped and must be rescued. But as I said before, the Watchmen aren’t the most efficient heroes so don’t expect a happy ending.
The gameplay has hardly changed. Rorschach and Nite Owl have the same moves, finishers and counters which was a huge letdown. The bonus is that there are only three chapters so the repetitiveness won’t last too long but if you have played the first part already, be prepared for the same thing. There were only three changes I noticed. One was the way Nite Owl pulled off his counters. In the first part you could hold the block button and just press the quick punch button to counter any attacks. In Part 2, this button combo must be pressed at the perfect time while facing the enemy in order to counter attacks. Why did they do this? Rorschach still counters the same way. What was the point of changing Nite Owl?! It just makes it frustrating when you’re trying to counter and you keep getting hit from behind because you aren’t standing in the right place or pressing the buttons at the perfect millisecond. The other was the additional finishers when you fight against the new female opponents. These finishes are absolutely brutal as Rorschach pounds away at these women or elegant when Nite Owl knocks out a dominatrix. They were actually pretty entertaining a sick sort of way. The last is that instead of constantly splitting up the duo must open doors together… Whoop-dee-doo. Again, this only serves as a mean to break up the fighting and nothing else. Next to the story and co-op mode there is also versus mode between Nite Owl and Rorschach once the game has been completed. However, without any extra characters this mode will die out in a couple of minutes.
The graphics have made a tiny step up as the character models look better than before. Rorschach and Nite Owl look great and some extra textures and less bland areas make the experience look nicer. You still won’t care for the environments but you won’t find yourself feeling as if you have been running through the same area over and over again. The sound is great once again with the original actors portraying their characters and the punches and kicks sounding as beautiful and deadly as before. The music is a little better since you can actually hear it as you go through some of these long levels. The only theme I can remember though is the disco song in the first chapter when you fight your first wave of opponents. I wasn’t humming this song down the street but I did throw in some John Travolta as I tossed thugs around the club.
Like the first, this is only a game for true hardcore Watchmen fans or if you are a huge fan of beat ‘em ups. Everyone else should either just download the trial or rent the game. For many, there will be no long term value to this game especially since there aren’t any other modes besides story, co-op and a Rorschach vs. Nite Owl mode. The story is better than the first but it’s just another comic book kidnapping. The repetitive gameplay hasn’t changed except for Nite Owl’s counter combo and there was no need for that. The graphics and sound are good but it’s not enough the make this game a classic, or to just make it a good game for that matter.
If you absolutely need to get this Watchmen series, do yourself a favor by buying a used disc version sold in game stores since it comes with both Part 1 and 2. Other than that, I recommend only trying this game out to figure out your own take on the game. Feeling the classic beat ‘em style gameplay in HD did bring me back some nostalgia but it’s not enough to give it a warm place in my heart. In the end, trying out the game won’t scar anyone especially since I had some fun with it after I had a bad day (beating the hell out of a thug or dominatrix put a smile on my face) but making a full purchase (for either Part 1, Part 2 or both) may cause you to want to pull a Dr. Manhattan and wipe this arcade game from existence.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com