THE GIST: Based on the movie of the same name, veteran sports developers Visual Concepts take a shot at the “if-it’s-a-movie-we-can-make-a-game-about-it” market in this souped up version of Final Fight that is bizarrely reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online, but with significantly less depth. You control one of the four heroes but can change to anyone of the on-the-fly, and in some cases you have to.
THE GAMEPLAY: One part brawler, one part RPG, with a few follow-the-leader segments thrown in to break up the monotony. The controls are spot on and feel natural though after about 5 minutes you will find yourself using Ben’s (The Thing’s) Shockwave Attack for the entire game. You also can team up for combo-attacks with other characters, but their appeal and effectiveness hardly ever call for the need to.
Like Marvel Ultimate Alliance you have 4 characters on screen at once with a quick tap of the D-Pad to change to whichever hero you’d like, but MUA this is not.
Initially the levels seem rather long, especially the first one that is more tutorial than action and induces what I can only imagine one would feel watching Sting do an acoustic version of “Message in a Bottle” on his lute. To give you a break once in a while you do get to partake in solo sessions with each character with missions calling for their specific Fantastic forte (The Invisible Woman has to use her skills and sneak around sentries, The Thing has to basically pummel everything within sight, etc.) which are somewhat fun except for The Human Torch’s on-rails fly, don’t die stints. Oddly these feel like the trench run at the end of Star Wars with all the fun and drama plucked out and replaced with “suck.”
VC tosses in your standard find the hidden items and look for the weak spot on the boss fights which never amount to anything more than using 2.645% of your brain. In fact, the final fight (SPOILER ALERT!) against Dr. Doom is so anti-climatic it very well could have been penned by David Chase.
One saving grace is the fact that the levels are largely destructible. Busting open rocks, crates, etc., reveals energy (depleted when you use certain attacks), health, and coins (which can be used to upgrade your characters abilities).
THE GRAPHICS: With 2K as the publisher I was not at all surprised to see the level of graphical detail applied to the license. While nothing FF:ROTSS offers is jaw-dropping the levels are rich with detail and sometimes (like in the Terrax levels) rather pleasant in their scope.
The animations look great with subtleties added you could appreciate, like when Mr. Fantastic leaps his legs stretch ever so slightly to accentuate his ability to stretch, it’s a nice touch.
The are some particle effects and other bells and whistles added to give the feeling of polish, it’s just a shame that this sort of attention wasn’t applied to the gameplay.
THE AMBIANCE: The music, sound effects, and voice-acting are all quality and the story is somewhat compelling but nothing to write home about. There are a few one-liners tossed in there that may make you crack a smile but largely it’s rhetoric you’ll tune out or skip past.
THE VERDICT: While on the surface this may looks like a title that can’t miss there is little that FF:ROTSS offers to validate a 60 dollar purchase. Look closely and you can see that VC uses the same font as they do in NBA 2K7, this laziness transcends to the gameplay which is ho-hum at best. Though not totally avoidable, I suggest renting this one, beat it (the achievements are rather easy to obtain), and be done with it.