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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

7 Studios / Beenox

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 27, 2005

 

- Clunky story and voice acting will remind you of games of yesteryear

- Ability to remap the controls

- Character switching and combos should hold your interest for short periods

- Looks great

 

 

- Straightforward to the point of boredom if played in long stretches

- Make sure you have a really good gamepad

- Clunky story and voice acting will remind you of games of yesteryear

 

 

Review: Fantastic 4 (XB)

Review: Freedom Force (PC)

Review: City of Heroes (PC)

Review: Spider-Man 2 (XB)

 

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Fantastic 4

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

To quote the Armchair Empire’s own Kurt Kalata, Fantastic 4 is “a competent, if somewhat unremarkable, beat ‘em up.”  He was writing about the Xbox version, but the same can be said of the PC version, which will appeal to fans of the film and those not old enough to have experienced the classic beat ‘em ups like Captain Commando, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage.

 

fantastic 4 review          fantastic 4 review

 

You take control of the titular Fantastic 4 – not all at once but there’s enough character switching (with a button press) during the game to make it feel like you’re controlling them simultaneously.  Alternately you’ll play as the hulking Thing, the speedy Human Torch, the jiggly and at times transparent, Invisible Woman, and old stretch himself, Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic).  They’ve been fighting the likes of Dr. Doom since the group’s first appearance in 1961 with Jack Kirby’s drawings and Stan Lee’s writing.  It was a more innocent time back in ’61 – there was never any worry of a Fantastic 4 movie.  Flash forward to 2005.  The foursome hits the silver screen with a somewhat entertaining series of flashing images and special effects – and that’s about what we get with the game.

 

Like the classic beat ‘em ups of yesteryear, the aim of the game is to beat up everyone and/or smash everything in sight.  The twist that Fantastic 4 throws into the mix is the occasional bout of timed button presses or rapid button presses, and so on.  It works like this: clear a room of baddies, then force open a door with 

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timed button presses.  It doesn’t  break up the monotony that sets in during long play sessions so if the aim of the developer was to change up the gameplay they failed miserably.  Taken in smaller chunks the gameplay can be kinda relaxing because there’s not a lot of thinking involved.

 

Light attack, light attack, strong attack!  Grab a guy and smack him around!  Cosmic move!  Ker-POW!

 

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To accompany all this is a pretty good-looking graphics engine. By far, the PC version is the best-looking iteration of Fantastic 4 and it brings a lot “fun to look at” explosions and small touches that too often get overlooked, like the way the Invisible Woman’s breasts jiggle when she comes to a quick stop. (Jessica Alba, you are so good looking!)

 

If I have one negative thing to say about Fantastic 4, it’s that you’ll need a very good gamepad if you hope to squeeze any enjoyment out of the game.  My own gamepad is at least three years old but it’s never let me down before now.  There are just a few too many control options to be mapped comfortably to the buttons.  In fact, I had to assign some functions to the keyboard.  While it means it would be more comfortable to have three hands to really kick butt, I applaud Beenox for giving PC users the flexibility to map their own controls.  All too often with ported console titles those options are missing.  That said, I still wouldn’t recommend trying to play the game exclusively with the keyboard.

 

fantastic 4 review          fantastic 4 review

 

And if I had two negative things to say about Fantastic 4, it would be the clunky story that moves the action forward with some extremely touch and go voice acting from the cast of the film.  It’s not horrible and more than a few times it reminded me of poorly localized titles from Japan, like River City Ransom (for the NES), so it’s not a total write-off.  And because the PC version is selling for $20US less than its console counterparts, you can probably put up with a little ham.

 

When it comes right down to it, Fantastic 4 doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a straightforward beat ‘em up, action game.  It has some light diversions in the way of “mini-games” and a nod to role-playing games with the ability to upgrade your moves, and as far as movie tie-ins there has been a lot worse.  It’s also not without its share of bugs, but I didn’t come across anything crippling to the game and hopefully there will be a patch to address the some of the smaller problems.

 

- Omni

(September 2, 2005)

 

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