While Marvel Entertainment has spread the wealth a bit this summer with new movies and games in the X-Men, Thor, and Captain America franchises, Warner Bros. has their hopes for multi-media resting solely in the ring-wielding hand of Green Lantern (though Batman will lend his help later in the year with Arkham City). With the first feature film in the space-bound franchise coming in June 2011, Warner Interactive will also be releasing a video game featuring familiar sites, faces, and voices, though it won't be directly based off the film.
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters takes the movie's look and feel and adds the mythology of the android enforcers known as the Manhunters. The Guardians of Oa once thought emotionless machines were the best force to police the universe, but the lack of empathy proved a hinderance to, well, life. Now the Manhunters are launching a full-scale assault on Oa and the little blue men, and it's up to the Green Lantern Corps to save the day.
We got to sit down with the game and play an example level of two of the gameplay modes - ground-based melee combat and a more "dogfight" style flight-based combat.
The melee on the ground is fun and exciting from the start. It's similar to many other third-person action games, with combinations of quick, heavy, grab, and air strikes. Of course, you have that will-powered ring on your finger, so just punching and kicking would be silly. With the holding of R2 or L2 on the PlayStation 3 controller (RT or LT on Xbox 360), you pull up a menu of four constructs each, corresponding to the four face buttons on the controller. We saw Missile Pack, Mace storm (a twirling melee attack), Gatling Gun, and Baseball bat to start, and later unlocked Ring blast after just one level-up. There are 12 constructs total that can be unlocked throughout the game, so eventually you'll have to pick your eight favorites for the quick-access presses. Many of these were chargeable as well, and all of them provided big, fun hits. Hitting a Manhunter robot with the big green energy baseball bat isn't just another melee attack, it sends them flying across the screen.
Where some games suffer from giving you these powerful attacks then not enough energy to perform them, that's not the case here. While it can't be every attack, there is plenty of recharging opportunity, from defeating enemies to supercharging at lantern points. That means you actually get to use your superpowers and feel like the hero you're controlling on a regular basis, not just on certain occasions. The big green hand grab helps fill in the slower spots, and becomes useful at not just defeating enemies, but solving some basic puzzles, too.
The game is co-op, with one player controlling a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and the other controlling his GL mentor Sinestro. Both characters play the same way, but have their own unique one-liners and quips to change things up ever so slightly. Teamwork becomes key in both puzzle-solving and some of the massive blitzes of enemies you'll face. Overall, melee was easy-to-control, with fun to use powers and a good variety of enemies, even at this early level. The one downside is the complete lack of the ability to fly in these stages. you can't hover, you can't do much in the air at all besides juggle melee combos. However, to sate that a bit, there are the flying levels.
The flight levels are more like controlling a jet than a human, as you soar through space and shoot down enemies. If you max out your overcharge meter and activate it, you'll in fact create a green jet construct around your character for a limited time, giving you much heavier firepower. Controls here are just as easy to handle; if you've played a flight game, you can play this with ease. The level I tried was short, with a typical "gain boss with hot spots to shoot at" toward the end, but if all the game's controls are this tight, this should provide a nice respite between the running, jumping beat-em-up that will serve as the bulk of the game.
When the game premiers next month, it looks like Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters looks like it has the willpower to defeat the "movie game" curse, but whether that means it will be the greatest Green lantern or just another rookie poozer remains to be seen.You can wield the green light starting June 7, 2011 on all major gaming platforms