Alan Moore’s Watchmen is one of our all-time favourite graphic novels here at Oscar Mike Media. Unlike your everyday superhero rag, it carries an element of grit and humanity, leaving you pondering in thought long after the final page has fallen. Instead of being crammed cover to cover with action sequences, Watchmen is submerged in heavy character-centric exchanges and strong political themes, two narrative elements rarely portrayed (well) in video games.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh launched in the same window as the 2009 film adaptation, available to download via Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. Despite Watchmen’s sudden burst in popularity and the games having high production values, both episodes failed to make an impact, due to the demanding £13 pricetag and a gallery of scathing reviews.
Put simply, Watchmen: The End is Nigh is a linear brawler which can be played alone or with a partner via local multiplayer. Either way, you will assume the role of either Rorschach or Nite Owl, both with their own unique movesets. Nite Owl can deliver fast-paced combos as well as gadget “shock” attacks, whereas Rorschach makes for heavier lunges with the added ability of using improvised weaponry.
The combat itself is quite divisive; there is an evident lack of pace, though this simply adds a brutal impact to each of the attacks, especially the finishers. Watchmen’s core gameplay lies somewhere in between Batman: Arkham Asylum and God of War, aside from the co-op puzzle solving.
One of the game’s highlights is easily its production values. Though the graphics and animations can be a little rigid at times, Watchmen is head and shoulders above the majority of downloadable title, even today. Environments are appropriately dark and gritty, and there’s even a fair bit of distinction between the enemy character models.
Despite the somewhat shoe-horned comic style cutscenes in between missions, the audio is consistently impressive throughout, borrowing Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley to provide the voices for Nite Owl and Rorschach. Unfortunately, none of the other characters from Watchmen feature heavily, and though it would have been nice to form a Dr. Manhattan/ Comedian tag-team, it would have likely played hell with the brawling mechanics.
For those who like to feel plenty of bang for their buck there’s bad news, if you aren’t a trophy hunter or completionist, both episodes will only clock-in at around 4 hours of play-time, less if you happen to be hooked up with a friend. However, if you are a Watchmen fan dying for some additional fictional material or just looking to smash some heads as Rorschach, this could be a keeper.[buy]If interested, there are demos for both episode 1 & 2 available to download via the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network (when the store is fully operational.) It’s also worth pointing out that a retail copy of The End is Nigh, bundling both episodes, is also available, though quite rare.