Well with a more or less slow summer of releases, what outlet does the video game industry have to turn to? Movies, of course. And with the release of yet another sequel comes its accompanying game. It’s Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer this time around to get you back into the shoes of Marvel’s first superhero family. But as most movie licensed games turn out, FF: ROTSS falls just as flat as the corny humor riddled throughout the game.
Rise of the Silver Surfer somewhat follows the general storyline of the movie: a strange alien being—the Surfer—has been spotted on Earth and it’s up to the F4 to help figure out what’s going on and put an end to it. Unfortunately for them, they also have to deal with the surprising return of Dr. Doom—because honestly, what’s the F4 without Doom, right? So in all that, it’s up to you to figure it out as you go along, because the game starts off with you being placed into a mine. There’s a small cutscene beforehand to brief you of Reed’s intelligence on the Surfer but nothing else. Speaking of nothing, the game doesn’t focus too incredibly much on the Surfer himself. You’re following his trail, to a degree, and only encounter him a few times. So much for having his name in the title.
It won’t take you long to complete the game. One could probably do it in a manner of six hours. You could take longer if you decide to max out your character skills. Although, it can get a bit time consuming.
The game looks pretty good in the graphical sense and is a clear advancement over its predecessor. There’s more attention to the character models mostly, although Thing looks overly rocky. The Invisible Woman also looks a bit odd, but really, can a computer generated Jessica Alba look as good as the real thing? The game does help lower the oddity of the blond hair and blue contacts combo, at least. At times during cutscenes, the characters will go through a slight decrease in quality, but it mostly affects Sue and Ben. The environments are pretty good, but nothing fantastic (yes sir, a possible pun). They're expansive enough and load times only occur when a cutscene is about to happen, but those are repetitive and more shiny than detailed.
Rise of the Silver Surfer definitely handles better than the last game and adds more team involvement to help defeat oncoming enemies. The attacks are basic for the most part and cosmic powers—obviously—are character specific. They get slightly over-responsive from time to time, but it’s not too big a deal. New to the game are fusion attacks, which add a new dynamic. Unlike the movie, in which Johnny Storm can swap powers with another member of the team, the game allows two characters to team up and create a more devastating attack. It comes in handy for a bigger group of enemies (although most of the time, it’s not that hard to just punch them all to death) and for boss battles. For power enhancements, PS3 and Wii owners will be able to use your controllers for more devastating attacks. And for much the entire time, you’ll have your whole team together, which is nice. DS owners will be able to take the reigns of the Fantasticar, which is a nice touch, and the Silver Surfer himself. There are instances where you’ll take control of a particular character in a small sublevel where only their powers will come in handy, like when you must chase the Surfer with Johnny.
Two of the game’s biggest problems are its repetition and its ease. All the environments, as stated before, look okay, but most sections look exactly the same. Take the Shanghai level, for example. You’ll be running through the same looking street for 10 minutes fighting the same enemies over and over. A statue is thrown in every so often, but that’s it. The rest of the levels will have you run around to the next group of enemies, beat them up, then repeat until you get to the boss—and of all six levels, there are a mere three bosses. Every so often, you’ll have a puzzle of sorts to figure out so you can advance, but they aren’t too difficult. And all of that won’t take long to complete because you’ll be able to defeat most enemies pretty easily. Bosses aren’t too hard either once you figure out how to beat them, especially since your characters will respawn as long as you have one alive.
But perhaps the most inexcusable part of the game is the lack of online multiplayer. Online play has come far enough, and this game had screaming potential to take advantage of it. However, all you can do is hook up a few other controllers and play with your friends on the same screen. Let the excitement commence.
So with no online multiplayer, there really isn’t much else to the game aside from the small extras. Finding silver F4 coins and Dr. Doom’s Spybots will grant you certain extras in the menu (which is incredibly bland), not to mention a couple of achievements if you find them all. Among the extras are ‘60s and ‘90s style costumes to use in the game, old comic covers, and concept art. Nothing, however, is too exciting, but it is kind of cool to play in the original costumes.
By the time you’re done with the game, you’ll feel slightly satisfied with it, but you’ll also feel slightly cheated because there could have been so much more to this game. However, it can only be taken so far since the F4 aren’t the same type of crime fighters like Spider-Man or Batman, so one can’t expect a free roam game. Unless you are a die hard Fantastic 4 fan, it’s hardly worth a purchase. Still, it’s a solid rental and a good way to spend some time having a bit of fun. If you really want to kick ass as the Fantastic 4, go play Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.