Fantastic Four Review

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Graphics: 5.0
Sound : 6.0
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : 6.0
Overall : 5.6
Review by Andy Levine
Fantastic 4 for the PS2 is yet another video game based upon a movie of the same name. This standard button mashing action title utilizes the cosmic powers of each member of this elite group across a seemingly endless campaign. While playing as your favorite character in the Fantastic 4 should feel like a comic book come to life, this game is merely another cheap attempt for the developers to fill their pockets.

In Fantastic 4, you will battle your way across ten different main missions, each being comprised of a series of various tasks and a never-ending bombardment of enemies. While there are four different characters at your disposal, in most levels you won’t have the option to play all of them. By using the D pad, you can switch between the heroes available to you during any mission. The storyline often depicts the group parting ways, so you will be limited to one or two characters at a time. Each character possesses unique powers that come in handy throughout the adventure. Mr. Fantastic can stretch himself in such a way that he can attack far away enemies and reach distant objects; the Invisible Woman can, evidently, become invisible and cast a protective shield; the Human Torch is extremely fast and can ignite his enemies, while the Thing is quite powerful in hand-to-hand combat. In order to use these special abilities, the player must build up enough cosmic energy. Cosmic energy can be restored during the heat of battle and is relatively easy to obtain. If used correctly, you can constantly perform a combination of cosmic attacks without even getting scratched. If you run out of your cosmic energy, you can always smash and bash your way through any level using the two attack buttons. The combos are simple to perform, but when strung together can also be very effective. Aside from the relentless beat down you put on the opposition, minigames will popup occasionally to diversify the gameplay. Such minigames, where you must perform tasks such as rotating the analog stick or pressing a button repeatedly, are basic and bland. The minigames are significantly simpler than the normal gameplay and seem very unnecessary. The experience would be much more involved if the characters’ distinct abilities could be used to overcome certain situations. For instance, instead of using your special powers to save a fire truck from falling off of a bridge, you must walk into your character’s respective beacon and perform a minigame. Afterwards, your character will do something exciting, such as Mr. Fantastic stretching himself to save the fire truck, but you can only see this through a cinematic scene. This leaves Fantastic 4 devoid of intuitive user involvement, and the monotonous beat ‘em up style of gameplay is also somewhat tedious.

Repetitive gameplay, lack of innovations, and awkward controls all lead to a disaster of a video game. There are some frail attempts to make Fantastic 4 feel like a more involved button masher, but everything feels out of place. An occasional minigame or environmental obstacle will interrupt the flow of battle significantly and leave the gamer wondering around when he should be killing something. The characters don’t feel powerful at all, but instead they feel very light and tend to drift across the levels. While you would imagine that the Thing would feel very heavy and pack a hard punch, it doesn’t feel like he packs any kind of punch. The level designs are repetitive, and it is easy to get lost in a series of rooms that look identical. Between the different missions, you will face different enemies and deal with different environmental hazards, but there is too much uniformity within each level. After killing hundreds of foes with the same attacks over and over again, you hardly feel like you have done any damage.

The opposing computer A.I. consists of a horde of enemies that are complete pushovers, while the other members of the Fantastic 4 are also not the strongest fighters on your team. The only real challenging moments involve the mini-boss and boss battles. In these confrontations, you will have to take control of the different heroes and bestow their greatest powers to succeed. Certain abilities, such as a shield that will protect you from all damage, will be very useful in these situations. Aside from these few epic battles, the game is boring and uneventful.

The overall production value is also lacking of anything impressive. The character models and most worldly objects have terribly rough edges and low texture resolutions. Special effects are used sparsely, and even the lighting effects are plain. Even though you would expect features, such as the Human Torch igniting himself on fire, to be enticing to watch, they are actually very simple. The voice actors include the same cast from the movie, but this is the only notable audio feature. The soundtrack isn’t uplifting, and the sound effects are also weak. A chaotic battlefield filled with fireballs, cars being smashed, and enemies dying everywhere should sound a littler more emphatic.

Fantastic 4 supports both a cooperative mode and a one-on-one arena mode, but both could use a lot of improvements. The cooperative mode allows you to take a friend on the adventure with you, but there are hardly any benefits of having two characters under human control. Every once in a while you can pull off a fancy two-player combination attack, but for the most part, you can expect to mindlessly mash buttons as usual. The arena mode is also very dull, and the battles are quite uneventful and far from satisfying.

In conclusion, Fantastic 4 for the PS2 is a rather disappointing title. There was a lot of potential here for an in-depth game filled with an assortment of lethal superpowers, but sadly the gameplay is repetitive and unexciting, making Fantastic 4 worth nothing more than a rent.