Dear God, what have I done wrong in this world? After the mediocre Batman Begins videogame, my boss, the allmighty tyrant that goes by the name Speed, decided to send me Fantastic 4, the game. I know I’m not thy most loyal or humble servant, but I don’t think even I deserved this kind of torture. So, please excuse for what I’m about to say and please grant me access to heaven in, let’s say, 60 years. Here goes: may you burn in hell, Speed, for doing this to me!
Why is Fantastic 4 so horrible, you may ask? Well, for starters, the presentation is downright awful. The menus look like they’ve been created somewhere in 1998 by a designer who wasn’t too fond of his job either. In short: outdated, about a mile away from what we’ve come to expect of a present-day PC game. Oh, and since when do we have to quit the game entirely to be able to change the (hideous) controls or the game’s resolution? Apparently Activision’s auto-detection thought my A64 3200+/X850XT PE/ 1GB DDR rig was just enough to play the game in 640×480…
Ingame there isn’t too much of a difference between that and 1280×1024 anyway. Even in high-res the game still looks subpar. The levels are very dark, so you’ll have to crank up the brightness or you won’t be able to see ANYTHING. And where can you change the brightness? You guessed it: in the options menu that can only be opened after you’ve quit the game. Also the main characters (Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic and The Thing) don’t have a lot of detail to them, so you can just forget about recognizing Michael Chiklis or beautiful Jessica Alba.
Speaking of which, Activision failed to do the only thing they had to do. There are no cutscenes from the motion picture. That means you won’t be able to see the real Jessica in the videogame. It’s a cruel world after all. Instead you get some half-baked CGI cinematics you’ve probably seen a hundred times before.
But hey, at least the actors did the voicework of the game, right? Well, sure, but I doubt it’s something to be proud of. They weren’t very enthusiastic about the idea, that’s for sure. They all sound plain and dull, with Jessica winning the award for worst performance in a videogame this year. This is definitely Razzie material! Really, Jessica, it breaks my heart saying these things about you, but please stay away from videogames in the future. It doesn’t do your career any good.
All of the previous wouldn’t be much of an issue if the game itself was good, but unfortunately the gameplay is where the proverbial shit really hits the fan. For starters the standard controls are downright awful, especially when playing on a keyboard. I’ve never been much a WSAD-man, but using the keyboard buttons around it for punching and jumping is just downright annoying. But wait, it gets worse. When you have to press a button, the game for example tells you to press a green “sword icon”. Now I don’t know about you guys, but I really have no fucking clue where the “sword button” on my keyboard is. I had to quit the game (again!) to check which button I had mapped it to. Apparently I had chosen the left mouse button for it. This is clearly a remainder of the console versions (probably the Xbox-version with all its coloured buttons) and I think this is a problem that could have been quickly taken care of before the launch.
The camera isn’t great, but it will suffice, since you can manually adjust it with the mouse. It’s a tad too sensitive, but when looking at the rest of Fantastic 4’s flaws, this is just a minor hindrance. There are some visual glitches in the game (textures not shown correctly, some clipping problems…) but those aren’t even worth mentioning compared the rather big bug I’ve encountered during my first session. In the first level you play with Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (the rubber guy), you encounter goofy-looking robots that put on some kind of combat suit to attack you with. You then have to defeat them to be able to continue. As you might have guessed, due to some bug, this didn’t happen and so I had to restart the level.
The game also has a 2-player cooperative mode, but I didn’t even bother to test it. The thought alone of having two players bash my keyboard to shreds was enough for me skip this part. Blame me if you want, I just don’t care.
Anyway, if you haven’t figured it out by know, Fantastic 4 -the game- is just pure rubbish. Practically everything in the game is below standard and not even the actors from the Hollywood blockbuster can change that. On the contrary, they bring the game experience down even more. Add some sleazy Samsung commercials to the mix (every monitor in the game is a Samsung one) and what you get is simply a bad game. My advice: go see the movie. It costs you about one tenth of the game, plus you get to see Jessica Alba! Hooray to cinema!•P.S.: female readers can swap Jessica Alba with Chris Evans, the guy that plays Johnny Storm/Human Torch. He’s very cute, or so my friends say.