Jun 252011

I’ve been waiting a very long time for a good superhero game. Even after being let down time and time again, I still can’t help myself, and have subjected myself to an endless stream of very un-super games over the last few years. For some reason I thought Griptonite’s Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters would be the game I was waiting for, but it suffers from many of the same shortcomings of another recently released superhero/movie game: bland level design, under utilization of the Wii’s hardware, being attached to a movie license, and…being completely devoid of gratuitous shirtless shots.

Gameplay and Story
Here’s a little background information for the readers who may be unfamiliar with the premise of the Green Lantern. The Green Lanterns are a sort of like an intergalactic group of forest rangers. They each have received every gay man’s fantasy–a very powerful and magical accessory in the form of a ring that can create any object the Green Lantern imagines out of green energy. These objects are known as “constructs”, and are the Green Lantern’s primary source of offence and defense against the evils that plague the universe. Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters focuses on the adventure of a new recruit to the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan, as he struggles to aid his fellow Lanterns in fending of scores of very mean robots called “Manhunters”, which unfortunately are not the kind of man wrangling cyborgs they sounds like.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is a 2D sidescrolling beat-em-up adventure, and that’s about as far as the basic description can go due to the fact that the story is so boring and bland it hardly bears noting. You guide Hal through each bland level with either the standard Wii Remote/Nunchuck option or by using the Classic Controller. There is a mild RPG twist which involves spending experience points to level up your various attacks, health bar, or your ring’s power bar. It is trivial which attributes players chose to level up, because the enemy design is so unvaried. If you find yourself preferring melee, then spend all your points on melee. Enemies seemed to be equally weak to your punches as well as blasts of energy from your magic ring, which by the way, is so blingalicious it would even put pieces from Miss Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection to shame. Most players will probably find themselves forgetting to spend their experience points, because aside from the times they overwhelm the player with their sheer numbers, the enemies present little to no challenge.

This is a 3DS screenshot, but I'm using it because this is what the game ACTUALLY looks like, just blurrier and bigger. For some reason all screenshots for the "Wii" version are actually PS3/360.

What’s really weird about how Griptonite handled this game is the way they tackled the Green Lantern’s constructs. In the comics, he can form any sort of weapon or item he imagines out of green energy from his power ring. Giant emeraled hued battle axe? Simple. Cosmic hot waxing kit for a little “manscaping” before beach season? Easy peasy, lemon squeesy. However, in the game you must find the new constructs by scanning a magical sparkly spot using the ring. The new constructs are always in really out of the way places that you could easily miss by going to each objective in the game. Often, many of the contructs won’t even be usable in the level you are in, despite the fact that there are plenty of places they are obviously needed. This hints at the idea that the developers intended levels to be replayed, but they are simply too boring for that to be a feasble option.

Visually, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is a cartoony version of the Green Lantern universe shown in this summer’s movie. It seems that the art director thought this animated approach was a reason to not show off the Green Lantern’s hot bod, but that begs the question: Why would Ryan Reynolds be cast if it wasn’t for his phsyique?! We all know he can’t act. In all seriousness, the actual gameplay scenes look mediocre at best, and the motionless, silent cutscenes are painful to watch. It almost looks as if this is a port of the 3DS version of the game, and much was lost in the translation to the big screen. A lot of people like to argue that a game on the Wii is expected to look crummy in this hi-def age of gaming, but games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Monster Hunter Tri have proved that even the underdog Wii is capable of running great-looking game, so there is really no excuse to put out something that looks like this. The sound is, unfortinately, completely unremarkable but at least it doesn’t make the game any worse.

We all know THIS is why a knucklehead like Ryan Reynolds gets cast for anything!

Will we ever get a good superhero game? Is it too much to ask for a hero that doesn’t feel completly crippled by things like turning constructs into hidden items, or a scene every now and then where the Green Lantern drops his ring, and then ever so slowly bends down to pick it up? I DON’T THINK SO! There is so much untapped potential in the major comic book intellectual properties that is just begging for an amazing, cutting edge developer to come along and make our geekiest fantasies a reality. Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters isn’t unplayable, and in fact may be a great game to pick up for kids who liked the recent Green Lantern movie. However, more mature gamers are going to need to keep looking for a definitive superhero game.

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters

It is nice to see games offering a choice between the Wii Remote and Classic Controller. Yeah, that's it...only one pro. Under developed visuals and gameplay mechanics really ruin what could be a great gaming experience.
VerdictIf you really HAVE to play this game, you should pick it up on the 3DS. At least then you could be bored, but with 3D visuals

  3 Responses to “Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters | Review (Wii)”

  1. I was really hoping that this game would turn out decent. I still have hopes for the 3DS version as I've heard it's a more Metroidvania type game. Being such a huge fan of the comics I really want there to be a good Green Lantern game.

    Of course I also really wanted there to be a good Green Lantern movie…

  2. I read that the 360/PS3 versions are basically simple fun co-op brawlers so I'll probably check one of those out

    • I heard the same thing, basically a simple beat 'em up with a Green Lantern skin. I could live with one of those.

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