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ups: switch between four different characters on the fly
downs: jacked up control scheme, horrid graphics, boring level design, uninspired gameplay

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Fantastic Four
game: Fantastic Four
one star
posted by: Eric Bodrero
publisher: Activision
developer: 7 Studios
ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 02:11 PM Sat Aug 20th, 2005
last revision: 01:54 PM Mon Aug 22nd, 2005

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Click to read.Developer 7 Studios and Activision dive into the superhero/action/adventure genre with Fantastic Four, the video game for the movie of the same name based upon four characters: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and of course, The Thing. How does the game stack up to the movie or the comic book? Well, it doesn\'t, and quite frankly to say it leaves a lot to be desired would be a gross understatement.

First of all, anybody who knows anything about the Fantastic Four, or has at least seen the movie, know that it\'s about five scientists who, during a space mission, get exposed to an obscene amount of radiation, leaving their body\'s genetics changed to allow for super mutations, such as a severe stretching ability as is the case with Mr. Fantastic, invisibility, spontaneous combustion and, um...becoming a giant rock creature, much to the chagrin of Ben Grimm.

The fifth wheel and ultimate baddy of the show is of course Dr. Von Doom, whose internal systems start changing into some kind of metal alloy, and is able to control electricity at his will. Dr. Von Doom (or Dr. Doom for short) being a vain man, eventually dons a mask because of a cut he sustained during the mission. The game boasts of radical multiplayer action in which you can team up with your fellow superheroes for wild combo attacks and insane action, but it all sounds a lot better in theory than it actually plays out on screen.

First of all, the game follows along the storyline of the movie almost exactly, which is for better or worse, so you\'ll see lots of cut scenes straight from the film. Graphically the rest of the game is somewhere between PSX and N64 graphics. It\'s really pretty bad. Character\'s and enemies animate poorly, running and jumping like the giant awkward polygon blobs that they are, and gets pretty annoying fairly quickly. The rest of the game\'s graphics lack pizzazz, and leaves you extremely under whelmed. The game\'s levels are about as blank and barren as it gets. This is another one of those truly movie-to-game experiences in which producers have rushed the product out the door quickly to meet the opening weekend at the box office.

The actual gameplay, if you can call it that, lacks in almost every way. Ideally, you are to progress through the game by using each character\'s special abilities in unique ways and by switching characters on the fly with the press of the directional pad, but it\'s much easier said than done. The control scheme is a huge mess, with a mish-mash of wonky button-mashes and forced coop play, and it makes for some very frustrating gaming. Perhaps the most bizarre choice of all in this department was the multiplayer. You and one friend can play coop. You would think in a game called Fantastic Four, based around four team members that at least four players would be able to play at once. Unfortunately, this isn\'t the case, and it leaves me scratching my head and wondering just who was in charge of development.

As if to make up for the poor play mechanics, you have an Arena Fight mode. Basically, you can choose either to practice or play something called Survival Killing, where you try and destroy as many meanies as possible before dying. Wow. Those are some killer choices there. Really, all it\'s for is to make you think like you\'re getting more for your purchase, when really, it\'s just pure filler fluff.

The audio fares no better. Yes, we get the real actor\'s voices and all, but for some reason that sounds rushed as well, and we are talking about Jessica Alba after all. Sound effects are bland and very generic, and I\'d almost be willing to bet that they were taken from the same existing, boring library that was used five years ago, and is probably now buried under a few inches of dust. Everything from explosions to robotic enemies to the musical score and even the actors themselves sound cheap, unenthused, and completely devoid of feeling, it\'s really quite sad.

If you make it through this game once, you\'ll certainly not want to have a go through it again, as you can be any one of four characters throughout the entire game at any given time, and quite frankly, it\'s bad enough once. So you can flush replayability down the toilet, too. Sadly, what it boils down to is this: every facet of this game is unfinished, from the game\'s levels and character design to the crummy audio and wacked-out control scheme. This game is the epitome of a rush job, and will certainly leave players with a sick feeling in their stomach if more than a few dollars were exchanged over the counter for this game, whether in purchase or in rental form. To be fair though, my five year old son did see me playing this once, and he was quite captivated.

Just do yourself a favor and avoid this mess altogether. Trust me, you\'ll be a lot happier if you do, and you\'ll save yourself some hard-earned cash in the process, which can be used to play more superior games out there, superhero or otherwise.

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