Honestly, I would never have thought that the Watchmen would ever get a video game. I know they are publicizing the movie quite a bit, but after reading the graphic novel a few years ago, I just could not see how a game could be produced. How does the Watchmen: End is Nigh stack up from my time with the demo?
(I am shamed to say I have not read Watchmen for about five years. As a result, my knowledge of what happens may be dusty)
Watchmen: End is Night
System: Xbox 360 Arcade
Available now: 1600 MSpoints
The Watchmen: The End is Nigh weighs in at over 1gb on the 360 hard drive. So, on my connection it was sort of a slow download. But, after it finished I booted up the game, and felt this wave of relief. This wave signaled to me that I would enjoy the experience.
The game opens up with an animated comic of sorts. You are in Nite Owl IIs basement, and Rorschach comes in talking about conspiracies in the Nixon administration. The game is set prior to 1977, and thus before the Keene Act, if memory serves me right. The comic looks nice, and has that minimal movement to it to make it seem like you are reading a comic. My complaint, is that the text on the bottom of the screen for the subtitles is rather small. But, this is only because of my Standard Definition TV.
The game then loads to the menu screen where you can select between Rorschach and Nite Owl. I have yet to play as Nite Owl, so my only experience for the demo is Rorschach. After you select your masked hero, the demo really begins. Nite Owl and Rorschach fly to an island prison where the inmates have broken out and caused the place to go to hell. Fires are set, police are not present...and there are lever puzzles. The game focuses on a co-op experience, so as you play one character the computer controls the other. From this, the PC player faired well on his own, and did not get in the way. The only time they took the lead, was during a cooperative "puzzle" sequence, where Nite Owl lifts a gate, Rorschach crawls under and then pulls a lever to raise that gate. Simple.
Graphically, the game looks marvelous. Easily one of the best XBLA games, sans Braid. The character models are nicely done, and look exactly like their movie-version counterparts. One little touch that I loved was that they did make Rorschach's mask change over time. This little detail was a huge plus for me. The environment looked rather decent, though repetitive.
Combat? In the short sense, it is simple. X + Y are attacks, and B is a throw button. But, I will say that even though the controls are simple, I actually LIKED it that way. It brought to mind Streets of Rage and that combat. Rorschach attacks at a slowish speed, but packs a punch. When you start stringing together attacks, he kicks some serious ass. He has this feral quality that just makes combat seem visceral. Combos are as simple as X+X+X+X and Y+Y+Y (or so I unlocked in the demo). You get a "bull rush" ability later, but it does not get much use.
I am honestly happy to say, that from this demo I would not mind a simple brawler. I can tell, though, that the combat will get repetitive. I do not mind that, however. The game just clicked with me, and I will gladly pay the 1600 point price for it in the coming week. For those, however, that expect a deep gameplay, look elsewhere. The game is just a simple brawler thus far, and from the reviews I have read, it lasts only a few hours (at most), and will not be worth the price. Download the demo, for sure.
Demo Score: 7/10
(Note: I wrote this earlier today before I saw Destructoid's actual review. The review supports my theory that the game does get repetitive. I still say try the demo, at least.)