The phrase Movie Tie-In Games elicits shudders down the spines of any serious video gamer. These titles, like the infamous E.T., evoke quickly produced and poorly made cash-ins. While there are a lot of these types of games, this is not always the case. In 2009, a fully interactive video game shaded in more of the backstory of an upcoming film. Bringing costumed vigilantes and classic style beat-em-ups into the new generation of video games, in Watchmen: The End is Nigh Part 1.
Set during the shadow of the 1972 election, when vigilantism is still legal, we follow the conservative crusader Rorschach and the intrepid Nite Owl as a crime-fighting double act. While investigating the prison riot, they realise that the whole escapade is a diversion for The Underboss (a notorious villain that had been apprehended back in ’66) to make his escape. The duo takes off to hunt down the villain, battling legions of hired thugs in their way.
You play as either Rorschach or Nite Owl, Rorschach can pick up items and fights in a chaotic and aggressive style, whereas Nite Owl plays more conventionally, relying on Batman-like tool and martial arts prowess. This isn’t just a beat-em-up affair, exploring the levels you can find unlockable combos by scouring hidden paths for collectables. Some of these are gated behind detailed lock-picking mini games, that can provide a fair challenge, and there’s Even some rudimentary puzzles, nothing too taxing but it does provide a break in the main gameplay loop. As the experience is intended to be played with a partner, the ability for co-op play is greatly emphasised, Though the A.I. can handle the other character if you’re playing alone, and the A.I. can handle the fray quite effectively.
The six levels follow through some iconic locations in New York, such as The Wharf, the infamous Sing Sing prison, sewers, places where you would expect scum and villainy to dwell. They look good, capturing the retro feel while utilising the visual capabilities of the new generation of video game consoles. These levels are inter-connected with these animated cutscenes, highly reminiscent of the original comic books, with the voice acting of Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley make these moments the best of all three depictions of the Watchmen world.
Watchmen The End is Nigh is a promising opener for this blend of episodic beat-em-up gameplay, easy to pick up, fun to master, and a great getaway ticket into the world of the famed comic book. Terrific visuals and voice work form the main cast helps Watchmen become the standard for modern beat-em-ups and movie tie-in games. It turns out that whoever is watching the watchmen is having a tonne of fun.
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