Sunday, 20 October 2013

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Video Game Review)

The latest in the Scribblenauts series, this time sees the inclusion of superheroes to mix things up. Set in the DC Comics universe, the game sees Maxwell traversing Gotham, Metropolis and other locales as he deals with crises in each city. Some visibly based upon canonical events, others more generic everyday fare for crimefighters.

DC Comics fans will definitely get a kick out of the title, not just due to the basic locations but the sheer level of depth 5th Cell went into with this one. Along with the obvious popular heroes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and others there are plenty of obscure and less known figures featured in the title. Background Green Lantern members, Matter Eater Lad and Firestorm all make an appearance to some degree, both in person and as usable costumes. Said costumes are in the hundreds, giving you new abilities and are a great bonus to summoning things. Unfortunately, despite having obvious New 52 elements, there’s little from Wildstorm or Vertigo to be found here.

The environment and characters of the DC universe do offer a different flavour to playing the title than past instalments, both for better and worse. While the variety of environments, superpowers and advanced technology are all look fantastic they do feel limited. There are fewer accessible places in cities than before, with many buildings being background elements and eye candy than something truly interactive. Furthermore while you can go nuts and screw with characters by giving them modified adjectives (fire-breathing Batman anyone?) the gameplay feels much more limited as a whole.

There are fewer quests this time which rely upon real creativity such as fixing things or giving people inspiration, and are instead combat orientated. While understandable with superheroes, fighting is easily the weakest part of Scribblenauts and this newest iteration hasn’t done much to help that. Furthermore many missions feel much more rail-roaded and the plot more intrusive, with more cutscenes and direct methods of dealing with problems, where there’s really only one answer.

None of this is to say Scribblenauts Unmasked: a DC Comics Adventure is a bad game, just it’s a step down from what we had before. The magic is still there, but it feels definitely rougher around the edges and not as well thought out, meaning unless you’re a big DC fan you’ll probably want a previous game. Still, at the end of the day you can still summon Lovecraftian nightmares to solve problems, and the sheer variety of items is still a great idea to base a game around. It’s hard to go wrong with that. 

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