Every major action movie nowadays gets a “side” video game released around the same time it gets to the cinemas. And of course X-Men 2 wasn't an exception. As a matter of fact the movie trailer of “X2: Wolverine's Revenge”, a third person stealth action game, was played in cinemas right before the movie started. As the game's developer Activision chose GenePool. Consequentially GenePool was faced with two hard tasks: make the game worthy of its proud X-Men heritage and have it ready for release on PC and multiple consoles simultaneously with X-Men 2's release in cinemas. As a result Wolverine's Revenge got to the PC as a console port. Which is unfortunately where most of its problems start.
The story in Wolverine Revenge has nothing in common with the X-Men 2 plot, even though it was made by Marvell as well. Instead it's focused on Wolverine alone, and he will be the only playable character. The story starts in the sixties, with Wolverine (still human at the time) is converted into a perfect killing machine during a super secret US military experiment. But Wolverine rebels against his masters and escapes their facility (or actually lets you do it for him). Thirty years later however, he discovers that this whole time a deadly virus called Shiva was present in his body, and if he doesn't find an antidote he will die in fourty eight hours. As a result Wolverine engages on a search for the antidote, some answers and revenge. As a result you'll be facing hordes of baddies and bosses (including Sabretooth and Magneto) in six game episodes.
The gameplay is your standard console action kill-em-all, with Wolverine's only weapons being his claws, speed, fast regeneration ability, and enhanced vision and hearing (that's when the stealth element comes into play – more on this later). The action itself is pretty fun and furious for the first couple of hours. The battle controls are immensely easy – there are only two attack buttons that you'll be using (legs and arms), and there are no combo hits. Instead GenePool decided to use “strikes” - which are special moves that Wolverine makes after you press one of the attack buttons for a different amount of time. Different combinations of strokes invoke different moves – all very effective and presented as engine generated animated CGIs. The use of “strikes” in Wolverine's Revenge is innovative (at least for PC games), as it also makes up for some RPG character development – there are four different levels of strikes, and to get them all you'll need to collect enough enemy dogtags, make some nice-looking moves when fighting the enemy, and use stealth hits.
But while the battle controls are easy, it becomes hard coordinating them with movement controls, since you end up pressing too many buttons in a fight. That's why the developers strongly recommend using a controller to play the game – but last I checked, the majority of PC gamers (myself included) don't own a controller (correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore I used my keyboard to play the game. And the pains that I went through... Wolverine's movements are imprecise (like in many console to PC ports) and feel uncalibrated. Amidst a battle it gets hard to keep it all together. But it gets even worse during some obligatory “stealth” parts of the game; some of the levels can even be failed when enemy sounds the alarm. You see, Wolverine can move quietly, look behind corners and “stick” to the walls. Mostly in theory, because the insensitive controls make it all hellishly hard. In reality it'll result with you repeating the same level time and time again before you'll get it right. Oh, and did I mention that (once again, like in many console to PC ports) there's no actual in-game save option? Guess I didn't, and that's one more reason that at times you'll want to scream in frustration and throw your PC out of the window.
However it happens only from times to times, while otherwise the game is fairly easy. Mostly thanks to (lack of?) enemy AI. Computer AI constantly misses, occasionally”forgets” about you, often surrenders and generally makes playing the game much easier than it would be with a decent AI in place. However while the usual generic soldiers are easily killed, the bosses (in a true console fashion) require you to restart the level for a number of times before eventually getting killed – that is mostly because only a specific (and individual) combination of “strikes” can kill each boss, and you'll be spending quite a bit of time figuring out what it is for each of them.
But even with all that said GenePool managed to create a GAME, which is at times fun to play, no matter all its problems. Especially before the initial “WOW” effect of Wolverine's “strike” scenes settles down. But after you've spent five or so hours on the game and seen them all, the gameplay becomes redundant and repetitive. If it wasn't for the storyline (which isn't bad at all for a video game), chances are you wouldn't complete the game even once. And even an increasing variety of “strikes” later on in the game and a “berserk” mode that opens for a short time when your aggression bar becomes full (in fight) can't save the game.
Being a typical console port, Wolverine's Revenge suffers from low polygon count. This manifests itself everywhere – the levels are mostly unattractive, textures bleak, enemy models too crude. The only exceptions are Wolverine – whose model, while still somewhat low poly, is well done, and is wonderfully animated (with motion capture being responsible for that) and a couple of bosses (whose appearance, while still subpar to Wolverine's, is still overall well done).
Apart of that everything else is mediocre, including even the cutscenes. Even the in-game camera location itself presents yet another problem: looking from behind your back it offers a pretty lousy range and angle of view, which often translates into inability to locate an enemy on time, especially because for a big part of the game you'll have to navigate through hallways and small closed locations. All this doesn't contribute to general appeal of the game.
The highlight of the game is most probably its voice cast. At least it seems like that's what a big part of the game's budget went towards. The cast is really all-star (including Patrick Stewart), and everyone does an above average job. And not only the voice quality is good, but some of the dialogues are even funny. The actual sound generally does its job OK, although there's nothing really special to talk about. The music (when it sounds) is OK as well, but is subpar to anything from X-Men 2.
Non-available. This directly results in replay value of the game going down a lot.
Wolverine's Revenge turned out to be a second rate console port, plagued by most if not all problems that usually haunt such projects. Bulky and insensitive controls, repetitive level design, mediocre graphics, repetitive gameplay, low replay value, lack of multiplayer. Rather short-lived action gameplay, nice storyline and excellent voice cast are the only positive things about the game that I could name. Therefore although the original console version of the game (which I must admit I've never played) might be fun to play (not suffering from all the console to PC porting problems that “happened” to the PC version of Wolverine's Revenge), I'd suggest you to stay away from the PC version. You're better off saving up that cash to buy X-Men 2 on DVD when it comes out.