There's nothing remotely fantastic about this awful movie tie-in.
- Both the case and the game can be recycled.
- Absolutely everything else.
It's no secret that games based on movies often get a bad rap. It's also no secret that games based on movies that are based on comic book characters tend to be among the worst offenders when it comes to portraying their source material. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii does nothing to buck that trend. Every aspect of the game is categorically bad; the story is tough to follow, the graphics are lousy, and the gameplay is so contrived and repetitive that it's unlikely anyone will garner much enjoyment from the game, no matter how low their standards are for being entertained.
Fantastic Four is supposedly based on the movie, but it takes several liberties with the story--so you're essentially getting a new, mostly lame tale. There are cutscenes before each level, but much of the plot is conveyed through boxes with talking heads and text that pops up while you play, so it's particularly difficult to understand just what is happening if you haven't seen the movie. Of course, if you have seen the movie you might find yourself wondering what the heck is going on, since Galactus is nowhere to be found.
FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer on the Wii and PS2 is a standard beat-'em-up that is somehow more basic than it was on the 360 and PS3--and much worse, too. You can play alone and switch between characters by pressing the D pad, or you and up to three friends can play together on a single system. You'll play as Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Thing, and Human Torch as they brawl their way through locations such as the Skrull lair, the Himalayas, and Shanghai. The locations may be exotic, but the mission objectives certainly aren't. You'll spend most of your time fighting seemingly endless hordes of enemies so you can activate a bridge, so you can deactivate lasers, so you can destroy a door, so you can get to an elevator, so you can do it all over again. The number of times that you walk into a room only to have the door behind you close and dozens of enemies appear are countless.
It's almost comical how repetitive the levels are--at least, it would be if they weren't so long. There are checkpoints here and there, but they're spread far apart, so if you die you're doing it all again. Fortunately, you probably won't ever die (unless you fall asleep). When characters die, they just vanish for 30 seconds or so and then reappear. As long as you make sure not everyone dies at the same time you can beat every single boss and enemy in the game by standing there and punching them; or you can go to the side of the room and toss fireballs. If that's too much work, you can literally put the controller down and watch your brain-dead, CPU-controlled partners fight the brain-dead bad guys. Yes, it's possible to beat entire rooms without even touching your controller. If you get tired of what is supposed to pass for action here you're going to have to make it to the end of a level before you quit, because that's the only place you can save your game.
All the characters have basic strong and weak attacks, and if you mix up your attacks you can string together combos. Of course, each person has special powers that you'll need to use from time to time. Invisible Woman can shoot energy waves and turn invisible; Mr. Fantastic can stretch and spin around to hit multiple enemies at the same time; The Thing can lift objects and damage bad guys by pounding the ground; and Human Torch can toss fireballs and shoot fire, and uh, shoot fire in another not-so-different way. Unfortunately, the game does little to take advantage of these superpowers. Human Torch can zoom around in the movies, but here he can barely get off the ground. The Thing can smash his way through a few walls here and there, but most items in the game are impervious to his strength. Mr. Fantastic is able to swing around wildly and hit lots of guys, but not much else, and Invisible Woman is all around pretty worthless.
On the PlayStation 2 special moves are done by holding down or double-tapping face buttons. On the Wii they're performed by holding buttons and moving, waving, or twisting the remote and/or Nunchuk. Both methods feel unresponsive and are difficult to perform when you're in a crowd, which of course is when you need them. You'll earn experience points and gain new attacks as you wail on bad guys, but none of this really matters. All you need to do to get through the game is pound the attack button and defeat thousands of mindless bad guys until the credits roll, or, more likely, until you turn the game off in disgust. The gameplay is absolutely mind-numbing, and other than the fact that it is technically playable, it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. While it may feel endless, Fantastic Four is a short game that can be beaten in around six hours. The typical assortment of extra costumes and artwork can be unlocked by finding tokens hidden in each level, but if you're somehow able to force yourself to finish the game, there's little incentive to play through again.
Fantastic Four's visuals are just as bland as its gameplay, though there are at least some decent lighting and particle effects. It's too bad these effects kill the frame rate. Most rooms and areas are barren and look nearly identical to one another. This makes it hard to figure out where you're going and where you've been--a problem, given all the backtracking you'll be doing. The enemies you'll be fighting are small and lack detail. There's little variety to their looks, so you'll be fighting the same few guys over and over again. The Fantastic Four don't look too hot themselves, and it's difficult to keep track of where each character is when the action ramps up. The camera shows the action from an almost isometric perspective and it can't be moved. This means you'll spend a lot of your time getting hit by enemies that aren't even onscreen. All the characters are voiced by sound-alikes who do a respectable job in spite of the amateurish script. The sound effects and music aren't much to get excited about, either.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a failure on every level. The combat is agonizingly tedious, and the objectives are cliché and repetitive. As a movie tie-in it does a poor job of following the movie, and as a game...it's insidious.