When a member of the Green Lantern Corps passes on, their ring finds a new owner. Someone who has been singled out to help protect the universe and all of its sectors from great evil. For eons, humans have never been allowed to take part in this service, and have been looked down upon for having primal ways.
That is until one of the Corps’ eldest members passes on and his ring selects Hal Jordan – a human test pilot, as its next bearer. An unexpected decision to say the least, but the earthling takes his new role with open arms, itching to prove himself. Such is the basis of DC Comics’ Green Lantern superhero comic series, and its big screen adaptation coming out this summer.
As with most blockbuster movies (especially those that have anything to do with superheroes), Ryan Reynolds‘ Green Lantern has received a video game tie-in entitled, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. For better or worse, it’s become the norm in the gaming world, with a lot of licensed product ending up as nothing more than shovelware, due to short development periods and a lack of inspiration. Though the team at Double-Helix did their best to try to buck that trend with this release, opting to create a spin-off story for the green clad hero, instead of following the film’s plot verbatim. It’s a risk and reward type thing that paid off in some ways, but missed the boat in others.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters sees our titular hero trying to save the galaxy from an uprising of gigantic robots known as the Manhunters, whose goal is to suck energy out of hidden caverns on different planets. What is their reason, you ask? To power weapons that will wipe out everyone who opposes them, giving their steel species free run of the galaxy, to instill fear and oppression onto those who survive.
It’s pretty cookie cutter stuff, but the writing is half-decent when it comes to the in-game dialogue. If you choose to take the Green Lantern oath then you must do your best to stop this from happening, while attempting to solve the mystery of who tipped the evildoers off in regards to the existence and location of the energy fields, which had been long forgotten about. Fingers point towards the Guardians as they were the only ones who admitted to knowing and covering them up, but was it them?
You wouldn’t be wrong if you called this game a third-person brawler or an action game. At its core, that’s really what it is, as you beat up all sorts of foes using melee combat and special abilities, all of which are constructed through the use of the Green Lantern ring, which uses hard light energy to create anything its bearer imagines. Being that it’s a video game, you’re not given unlimited abilities based on anything you can imagine. It’d be tough to expect that.
Instead, you’re given the ability to unlock and purchase different abilities, such as a rocket launcher, a baseball bat and the knowledge of how to create mines, all of these add onto your traditional (light) swords and (heavy) hammer attacks. The special moves can only be called in when you have enough ring power, which recharges when you land attacks on your foes.
However, that isn’t the only thing up this Green Lantern’s sleeve. Three of the game’s ten missions (coming in at approximately six to eight hours in length) are one-man army flight combat segments, where you fly over large distances, taking out anything in your path or peripheral vision. Not one robot, turret or door lock is spared from the explosive carnage you create with a basic green blaster and a rechargeable rocket attack. The cool thing about these parts is the chance to turn into a jet with unlimited rockets, whenever you activate a full green meter. In the other missions, this just allows you to use any special move as much as you want, for a limited time. Though, when you purchase a specific upgrade, it will also make you invulnerable to attack.
Double-Helix’ attempt to add variety to their digital experience works pretty well, as the flight missions can be quite fun, even though they don’t push outside of the box and can be quite brief. The problem is that there just isn’t enough of them or enough variety in general here. Its combat is relatively fun for a while and can be entertaining in short bursts, but longer play sessions incur repetition that can result in a bit of boredom. The combat mechanics are quite basic at their core despite the special attacks, it’s not like you’ll be able to pull off spectacular combos.
You’re just limited to basic ones, which admittedly do look nice when the glowing green swords and hammers come out (which can be made bigger and stronger, through the use of the upgrade menu and certain amounts of spent experience points. It’s more fun and has more polish than your average movie/licensed product, but it’s too basic and uninspired to blow anyone away. Not to mention a bit short on easier difficulties.
Multiplayer is available in the form of co-operative play. Friends can play together locally, with one person controlling Green Lantern and another controlling one of his allies. It can add some extra fun to the game, as you could combine moves to create ultimate devastation towards your foes, though it’s not a revolutionary new feature. Kids may enjoy this aspect the most because they can invite their friends over for some fun during a weekend sleepover or party.
Other than the campaign, there isn’t much here to add more hours of enjoyment. The only replayability comes in trying new difficulty options (though if you’re a seasoned gamer, you should start on hard as it’s really not that difficult) and trying to find all of the collectibles. There are approximately fourteen of them hidden through the game (none during flying levels) and they’re generally pretty easy to discover if you look everywhere.
You might miss one or two, but you can always just reload a checkpoint through the chapter select menu, in order to find the ones you didn’t get in your first run through. They make it easy enough to find out which ones you’re needing, as your collectible progress is listed under each mission’s image. The blue rocks increase your health, while the green ones fill up your energy meter.
There’s the odd glitch to be found, such as the Green Lantern character model getting caught up on the environment during a custscene. Though, it generally runs quite well with a good framerate and a noticeable amount of polish and fine-tuning, which is usually scarce in a film companion or licensed game. There are some times where depth perception can be an issue, making you lose life force that you really shouldn’t be without. These moments tend to occur only when you’re hitting energy orbs back at enemies, and can be the result of a mediocre camera that sometimes is blocked out by large enemy worms.
It’s impressive to see that Ryan Reynolds was nice enough to lend his voice and visage to the 360 and PS3 versions of the game, adding an air of familiarity to the project. The Green Lantern character model looks quite nice in-game, both during cut-scenes and throughout play. He glows with a pretty green glow that also turns into the weapons he uses – all of which look nice and animate quite well. Generally speaking, it’s a nice looking game.
Most movie games don’t achieve this type of visual fidelity or quality, but that’s not to say it’s something that will wow you like Gears of War or the Killzone games. It’s pretty nice looking, but not a visual piece of art by any means. Though the hero looks nice, his enemies are detailed but bland – with almost all looking the same. Additionally, the worlds that you plow through are quite dull, repetitive and uninspired.
Sound is another pretty strong aspect of this superhero campaign. Apart from one or two members, the sound cast does a good job – especially Reynolds. The dialogue isn’t stilted and is quite well-written, crafting a storyline that will interest comic book fans and those who are looking for an interactive escape in the Green Lantern’s world. Though one cutscene featured dialogue that cut out at the end. There are some decent sound effects included, but nothing that will make you write home to mention, but they’re not bad by any means. Overall, it’s a pretty good looking and nice sounding game.
If you’ve been itching to get your hands on this game, or your eyes on the film, you’ll definitely get enjoyment out of Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. Even if you’re new to the lore, it’s easy to get into and will keep you entertained over a weekend or a few days. Though it’s repetitive and brief without much replay value, it’s certainly far from bad and can be considered just above average in relation to most games.
Being a film companion, this game offers gamers more than they’d expect from something of its ilk, but not enough to keep you occupied for long enough to get your money’s worth out of a purchase. Take the oath if you’d like – just try it before you buy it. Hardcore fans will want to have this one in their library, but most gamers will be satisfied after just a rental.
“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight! Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power..Green Lantern’s light!”
Green Lantern: Rise Of The Manhunters features more polish than your average licensed game. It has a decent storyline that's well written and as a nice bonus, Ryan Reynolds lends his appearance and voice.