Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

F4_PS3_FoB_Final.jpgPlatform: PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Visual Concepts/Seven Studios
Release Date: 6/15/07
Genre: Action/Beat-em-up
Players: 1-4

Whereas Transformers: The Game is far worse than the movie it’s based on, the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer game is actually much better than its theatrical counterpart. That’s more because the new F4 movie sucked, but nevertheless the game is a serviceable tie-in that those who actually liked the movie and fans of beat-em-ups should find reasonably enjoyable.

Rise of the Silver Surfer revolves around a storyline consisting of plot elements from the film combined with original scenarios more akin to the comics. The basic gist of the story is simple: Silver Surfer has come to Earth to prepare it for annihilation by Galactus (who’s never even in the game, oddly) and it’s up to the Fantastic Four to put an end to this. Dr. Doom also shows up with a nefarious scheme of his own, as usual, and becomes the main target by game’s end. You’ll also confront other classic F4 villains like Terrax and Super Skrull too.

Shockingly, the story holds up fairly well, although it blazes by in only about five or six hours tops. Unfortunately, the actors from the movie don’t provide the voice-overs, but the hired sound-alikes do an unexpectedly commendable job filling their absences. 2K and Visual Concepts did at least replicate the character likenesses of the actors, and overall they are rendered authentically, especially in the cut scenes. Graphically, the four console versions are split in half when it comes to quality. On the PS3 and 360, the game doesn’t look half bad, sporting moderate detail in the textures and characters and some nice special effects for each hero’s super powers (it’s still all mostly average for what the platforms are capable of though). The PS2 and Wii versions (developed separately by Seven Studios), on the other hand, are, let’s just say… “unattractive” (or downright ugly in harsher terms).

RotSS’s gameplay is of the run-of-the-mill beat-em-up school of game design, with absolutely no originality to speak of, yet no seriously detrimental problems either (on the 360 and PS3 that is- the Wii and PS2 versions are far worse and should likewise be avoided). Playing in four-player co-op is where the game is at its best (all local multiplayer, no online sadly), as the shallow, button-mashing action of brawlers like this is always fun with a couple of friends. Going at it solo, you assume control of all four heroes by yourself, using the D-pad to jump back and forth amongst the team at will.

Each character has a unique set of powers to take advantage of: Mr. Fantastic can stretch to reach high switches or slink through laser security beams, Invisible Woman can bypass laser gates and use telekinesis to toss objects, Human Torch can shoot fireballs and fly, and The Thing, well he pretty much just smashes the crap out of any and everything. A fusion attack system also lets two teammates link up super powers for devastating combos. In between levels you can use earned points to upgrade super powers and basic character attributes too, adding a somewhat tacked-on but overall welcomed RPG element to the mix.

What’s really disappointing about RotSS is how Visual Concepts didn’t take the opportunity to fully exploit the Fantastic Four’s array of powers in creating interesting level designs and puzzles. Puzzles never get any more complex than using one of the Four’s abilities to bypass some mundane obstacle in order to flip a switch that opens the way to the next area. The level designs are even more uninspired, most of which appear to be constructed by the same set of barren hallways and rooms spliced together. A few stages do standout though, especially the PS3 version’s Human Torch solo missions that have you flying on rails utilizing the Sixaxis motion-sensing to steer – the controls are very basic, but they handle smoothly.

All told, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is one of those games you pick up at the local rental shop (or on GameFly) and just go to town with a few buddies over one of those lazy weekends where there doesn’t seem to be anything to do. As long as you take the game for what it is and don’t get all over analytical about its lack of depth or originality, it does have some no-frills entertainment value to give, not to mention a hefty lineup of unlockable bonus trailers, alternate costumes, concept art and comic book covers waiting to reward your efforts.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!