Fantastic Four
Rise of the Silver Surfer

Format: Xbox 360
2K Games

5 026555 246231
Age Restrictions: PG
15 June 2007

Marvel's first family of super heroes faces its greatest challenge yet as the enigmatic, intergalactic herald, the Silver Surfer, comes to Earth to prepare it for destruction. As the Silver Surfer races around the globe wreaking havoc, the team must unravel the mystery of his origins and confront the surprising return of their mortal enemy, Dr. Doom, before all hope is lost...

Based on the film release of the same name, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is pretty much what you'd expect from a movie tie-in - a little to rushed and not very impressive. In fact, I'm left wondering how many hours were devoted to ironing out the bugs.

For those who bought and enjoyed the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Rise of the Silver Surfer is in a very similar vein. The basic controls and idea is almost identical. However this time around you can only play as four characters (who, incidentally, were also amongst the many characters you could choose in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance), and you'll spend a little too much time just running around opening doors and getting in lifts. Not only that, but the graphics are extremely poor for an Xbox 360 game - it looks more like a PS2 game.

Rise of the Silver Surfer allows you to take on the role of any member of the Fantastic Four team and switch characters at any time, or you can play with up to three other friends who can each play as one of the four team members. Each member has unique special abilities that will help the team get through different situations.

As you race around the levels you are confronted by various nasties to beat up (by far the easiest way is to use the Thing to pick them up and throw them over the side of buildings, or into the lava flows that race below you on certain levels. Every now and then you'll hit an obstacle which can only be solved by one of the four characters. It could be that you need the Thing to smash through a wall; the Invisible Girl to sneak past something unseen; Mr Fantastic to stretch to an area unreachable by the other characters; or the Human Torch may be needed to fly over a powerful forcefield. Whatever the obstacle, once you learn which character is useful for what type of problem, you'll soon be able to make your way through the levels easily.

This undoubtedly works best when you are playing with three other gamers - each taking control of a different member of the team. As a solo game it gets incredibly frustrating very quickly and, as most of the time you are battling against hoards of bad guys, you'll be playing as the Thing - who is by far the coolest character anyway.

Every now and then one of the characters is chosen to perform a level on their own (the Human Torch flying through a tunnel above lava; Mr Fantastic squeezing into an area that is too small for the rest to follow etc). While these are entertaining enough, they are a little old school - the Human Torch levels are so slow and dull that they make the main game look good in comparison.

What is surprising is how un-super your super hero abilities are. As the Human Torch, or the Invisible Woman, you can only use your main power for a laughably short amount of time. And, as the Thing, your main attack is limited to only a handful of goes before your energy runs out. Then you are, more often than not, quickly knocked out by even the weakest of foes.

When this happens, you automatically switch to one of the other characters... but if you wait for a few seconds, your original character comes back to life, fully charged up. Er... this actually makes all that power rubbish a total waste of time. It's simply a matter of playing as the Thing, smashing your way through everything and, when you get knocked out, waiting to be rejuvenated and starting the whole process all over again. This does not make for very enjoyable gaming (in the single player mode anyway).

At the end of the day this game won't surprise anyone who is used to poor movie tie-in games. I wouldn't spend £40 on this rushed game, but I'm sure fans of the movie will find it briefly entertaining.

Nick Smithson

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