The stigma of bad videogame adaptations of films follows the genre around like a bad smell, so expecting Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters to be subpar is understandable. However, Rise of the Manhunters is surprisingly good in comparison to its movie tie-in brothers, and whilst it’s still a long way off from a great game there’s enough working in its favour for you to enjoy the experience.
Set in the same universe as the film but telling a different tale within it, Rise of the Manhunters sets itself apart from the film enough to allow some creativity to creep in. Focusing on the grander narrative, you play as Hal Jordan battling the Manhunters, ancient robotic warriors created by the Guardians before the Green Lantern Corp was formed, as they vow to destroy the planet Oa and the Green Lantern Corp. It’s the setup for hundreds of invading enemies and countless fights to see them off and eventually beat them, and Rise of the Manhunters follows this through as a linear brawler.
It suits the experience well and is mechanically excellent. A combination of light, medium, and heavy attacks followed up with grabs, blocks and special moves is reminiscent of the God of War series and is smooth, responsive and impactful. Additionally, the special moves conjure constructs, anything imagined in Hal Jordon’s mind made physical and used against his enemies, and the available 12 constructs run the gamut from giant circular saw blades to a fighter jet. They’re downright creative and entertaining to use, and incredibly don’t become superfluous. Each construct has its strengths and weaknesses against the many enemies you encounter and as you progress you’ll rely more and more on using the right construct on the right group of enemies. Unfortunately, the fighting and the enemies themselves are severely lacking in creativity.
Out of the countless number of enemies attacking you, the actual amount of unique ones is very limited, and even then the majority are just pallet swapped and given a different weapon or shield. It quickly becomes repetitive and predictable as you familiarise yourself with attacks patterns and numerous quick time events for the larger foes. The boss encounters also suffer from this same predictability; once you’ve beaten your first the others are a breeze. Repetition is the bane of brawlers and with Rise of the Manhunters this is no exception. The imaginative constructs are unlocked gradually by purchasing them from energy collected from defeating enemies and breaking containers, and they help break the tedium temporarily by providing entertaining spectacles. Meanwhile, intermittent flying on-rail shooting sections, similar to Space Harrier, between some missions make for entertaining asides from ground combat, but ultimately you’re replacing your fists with projectiles and the grind will bore you.
Alleviating the boredom slightly is the drop-in local co-op feature, which allows a second player to join you playing as Sinestro. Battling alongside another player is certainly more fun than solo but it makes an already easy game almost no challenge at all. It highlights what Rise of the Manhunters really is: a short but compelling narrative experienced through a slightly above average brawler. Beyond the implementation of the constructs, it doesn’t do anything different to stand out. It takes the tried and tested formula and sticks to it, rigidly.
Adding some authenticity to the experience is voice work from Ryan Reynolds for Hal Jordan, and the rest of the cast, although not from the film, do a great job of immersing you in the universe. The exposition isn’t laid on too thick but new comers to Green Lantern lore are brought up to speed effectively as well as the occasional nod to elements within the Green Lantern universe for veterans to enjoy. It’s well crafted for accessibility and a good companion to the film. Some bland textures break immersion slightly and the odd line is cringe worthy but it’s all forgivable.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is fun for the six to eight hours it takes to complete but only really offers the bare minimum for your time. It’s unremarkable overall but competent for a movie tie-in, and although the repetition threaten to put you off if you bring a friend along it’s easy to enjoy the experience for what it is.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is out now on PS3, Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii