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Fantastic 4

Developer: 7 Studios | Publisher: Activision
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 06/27/05 | Genre: Action

What happens when you take one of the summer's most hyped movies, use an improved X-Men Legends game engine, and make the game follow the movie's storyline? Activision's Fantastic 4 is the end result. Unfortunately there are just entirely too many issues to warrant the word "Fantastic" being in the title.

Players can control one of four different characters in Fantastic 4. Mr. Fantastic is able to stretch himself and attack enemies from farther back. The Thing is a powerhouse and can dish out major damage to enemies nearby. The Invisible Woman is fairly weak but her strengths lie in turning invisible and freezing enemies. The Torch is made purely of fire and can use the flames against enemies. He is also extremely fast. One or two players can join in on the action by playing through the story mode together. Switching between these four characters is very fast and easy to do. Just hit the D-Pad towards the character you want to control and you will instantly be using them if they are available for use. (The PC version uses a mapped key for each character.) The AI will control unused characters.

Fantastic 4 sports some of the worst graphics during cinematic sequences I have ever seen. With full use of the movie license, how can you make the characters in the game look so little like the real actors? For example, Jessica Alba plays the Invisible Woman and she looks very unattractive and much older in the game. What were the developers thinking? When you have someone as gorgeous as Jessica Alba to star in your game, how can you possibly make her look ugly? This probably went down something like this:

Activision: Okay we have been given the green light to make a game based on the upcoming Fantastic 4 movie. We only have a little over a year to finish the game.

Developer: No problem. We have already worked out a game engine and should have it complete well before time to ship. Here is an alpha.

Activision: Hey, isn't this the X-Men Legends engine?

Developer: Yup. It is better than anything else we could copy from another game.

Activision: Holy crap! How come the cinematic sequences look so bad? You know you can use the actual actors--right?

Developer: Who has time for that? This is left over from the PSone Fantastic 4 project you guys shot down.

Activision: Oh, that is right. Just make sure the game is ready for the movie premiere. We will make sure you get good PR even if you are using PSone cinemas....

That conversation is completely fictional but is the only conclusion I could reach as to why the cinematic sequences look straight out of an original PlayStation game. Yes, they are that bad!

The in-game graphics are decent and much improved over the cinemas. Despite this, I found them to be lacking detail and appear very static and average. There is some interaction within the environment that allows for you to destroy some items. However, most items are not destructible and it is quite humorous for your "all-powerful" heroes to only have the ability to destroy certain objects. It would have been very nice to see fully destructible environments. However, I would have settled for a map to show you where your characters have explored and where the next objective was located.

Overall Fantastic 4 is an average game based on an over-hyped summer flick. It may not be as bad as some other games I have played this year--but definitely rent this one before you purchase. A weekend of playing is all that should be required to satisfy your curiosity.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 08/12/05
ESRB Details: Mild Language, Violence
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Screenshots for Fantastic 4

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