Developer: Deadline Games (“Total Overdose”)
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Two years ago, when director Zack Snyder was promoting “300” and its corresponding game, he was asked if there would be a video game for his next film, the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel “Watchmen.”
“Absolutely,” Snyder declared. “It’s going to be a game that’ll need a lot of time to do right. The thing about ‘Watchmen’ is that it is, among other things, a comment on comics. Which means that the movie has to be a comment on comics and cinema, and the game, to be any good, will have to be a comment on comics, cinema and gaming.”
Sadly, “The End is Nigh”—the first in a proposed series of “Watchmen” games—is not that game. It’s not even trying to be. Instead, it’s a fun but rather simplistic beat-’em-up in which players can be either Nite Owl or Rorschach and run from one fist fight to the next.
As beat-’em-ups go, “Nigh” is quite good. A timing-based combo system—including throws, special attacks and finishing moves—combines with the game’s solid controls to keep it from being just another button masher. Both characters have their own unique style of fighting (though Nite Owl’s Batman-ish refined martial arts isn’t nearly as fun as Rorschach’s unhinged street brawler approach). You can also use found objects like bottles and crowbars as melee weapons, which come in very handy since the bad guys don’t wait their turn, preferring to attack you all at once.
Things get redundant after a while, but beat-’em-up fans will be used to that. The $20 download price—available from Xbox Live Arcade on the 360, PlayStation Store on the PS3, or watchmenvideogame.com on PC—isn’t bad, but the absence of an online co-op is glaring.
The bigger problem is that “End is Nigh” just isn’t very “Watchmen”-esque. Set up as a prequel, the game has Nite Owl and Rorschach running around, beating up criminals…and that’s it. Which just isn’t enough, considering the source material.
Along with Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight,” the “Watchmen” series rewrote the rules for superheroes and superhero comics, and the genre has been the better for it. Accomplishing the same feat might be a tall order for a video game, but the developers didn’t even try for anything close. Hmm…maybe if they had more time.
Bottom Line: Good for what it is, but it should’ve been so much more.
'Watchmen: The End is Nigh' video game review
Does the video game prequel live up to the movie? Or the book?
By Paul SemelSpecial to Metromix
March 4, 2009