It goes without saying that with the blockbuster film season usually comes a shower of under-developed and, in some cases, unplayable video games. For every successful transition from silver screen to gamepad, such as LEGO Pirates or even Spiderman 2 (you know, the sandbox one?), there is a cluster of agony; Thor: God of Thunder and Battle L.A being this year’s main culprits. Throwing a quick glance at Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, it’s easy to bear prejudice, but does the emerald knight pull any surprises?[boxout]Developed by Double Helix Games (Silent Hill: Homecoming, Front Mission Evolved) Rise of the Manhunters isn’t a direct tie-in with the upcoming motion picture. You assume the role of Hal Jordan, the first human Green Lantern and a US test pilot who is given a mighty power ring by its previous owner, the alien Abin Sur. Presumably set some time after the film, you are summoned to the Guardian planet of Oa to repel a Manhunter invasion. Once the police force of the galaxy, the robotic Manhunters were replaced when the Green Lantern Corps came to power. After a brief skirmish, the Corps soon realise the onslaught was a diversion; a small band of Manhunter had managed to uncover the Guardians’ coveted vault containing yellow fear energy. With the corrupting substance now in the hands of the Manhunters, Jordan and his fellow Lanterns are tasked with stopping the spread of its influence, whilst also trying to uncover who informed them of the vault.
Green Lantern is roughly three to five hours long, even on its hardest difficulty, which doesn’t really allow any sort of intriguing plot anchors to develop. The game is quick to set the scene though, and builds a relationship between the three lead characters Jordan, Sinestro, and Kilowog, although it never really picks up until the final mission. Aside from collectibles and character upgrades there is very little incentive to play Green Lantern twice, but give it an extra hour or so and you can bag yourself a shameful platinum trophy/1000G for your collection.[drop2]Rise of the Manhunters follows a strict linear design, its gameplay heavily borrowing from titles such as God of War, though there are enough new mechanics and tweaks to keep it interesting. Players will have a number of standard actions available to them; basic/heavy attacks, jump, block, and dodge being the bread and butter of any combat-heavy adventure game. However, what sets Green Lantern apart is its use of “constructs”. Bearing a ring of power allows Jordan to summon any object he desires simply by focusing his will, an ability which doesn’t just have cosmetic applications. Players can assign eight of ten unlockable constructs to the face buttons, each set of four activated by holding either the left or right triggers. To begin with, you will have access to constructs such as the simplistic ring shot, though they soon become more creative and powerful. They all have their uses, and it’s likely you will have a favourite. However, using any construct will drain from your willpower and once the meter empties, you will have lost your most potent weapon.
Levels are usually split into dozens of mini skirmishes, each connected by one-way jump pads, creating possibly one of the most linear game structures you are likely to come across. At times it may feel as if you are constantly engaged in combat, though there are some efforts to break the monotony, including the occasional puzzle and even flight stages; both of which are succinct but can soon lose their fun factor. If you can get behind the combat mechanics, chances are you will enjoy Rise of the Manhunters but, if not, this game could easily be your worst nightmare.
With no CGI cutscenes or even clips from the movie, players are forced to sit through somewhat sub-par visuals throughout. There may be some well-designed characters and environments, but they soon become repetitive and hard to digest, especially upon realising how condensed each level is. Invisible walls are in abundance, and there is also a noticeable lack of reflective or lighting effects. However, given the high tempo of the gameplay and long shot third person perspective, the mediocre visuals can be overlooked to a certain extent.
On the other hand audio is actually well-done throughout Rise of the Manhunters, in both voice acting and soundtrack. Ryan Reynolds dons the mask of Hal Jordon, his committed yet cool-headed character seeping through the dialogue, though at times it can be held back by the occasional cringe-inducing one liners.
- Doesn’t directly mimic the plot of the motion picture.
- Combat is simplistic, enhanced by the playful use of Constructs.
- Voice acting and sound effects are mostly of top quality.
- Co-op play is effortlessly integrated.
- If you dislike the God of War-inspired combat, there’s little here to enjoy.
- Visual presentation is lacking, there’s also very little diversity among enemies.
- The game’s ultra-linear design leaves little room to explore.
- Campaign will only last a maximum of five hours with little replay value.
Fairly short and half-baked when it comes to overall presentation, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters may be a hard-sell to anyone without confidence in movie tie-ins. However, for those who take the risk, there is a satisfying game to be enjoyed, mainly thanks to the simplistic yet diverse combat mechanics as well as drop in co-operative play. It’s an ideal purchase for younger gamers anticipating the release of the film, but for anyone else, caution is advised.