The Fantastic Four may be one of comic-dom’s most famous super-teams, but gamers playing the adaptation of their latest film can be excused for thinking they’re also the most inept. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” manages to capture the look and feel of the movie — complete with its cardboard acting. However, players will spend most of the game frustrated that the computer-controlled members of the fantastic foursome are more hindrance than help.
That isn’t to say that the sequel to 2005’s similarly flawed “Fantastic Four” game released by Activision doesn’t do anything right. In fact, “Rise of the Silver Surfer” has plenty going for it. The storyline, for starters, smartly builds on that of the movie without watering it down too much.
Each character has a number of visually impressive special attacks, from the Thing’s ability to create a shockwave of damage by slamming his hands into the ground to the Human Torch’s fireballs. Players can also unleash awesome fusion attacks that combine the powers of two of the characters into one powerful blast.
Combine all that with some tricky puzzles and epic battles against powerful adversaries, including the Silver Surfer himself, and “Rise” has the makings of a memorable experience.
But because most levels involve the quartet of superheroes doing battle together, players will end up more focused on the fact that their superhero cohorts behave more like listless zombies than titans imbued with the power of cosmic rays.
Players can switch between playing as the Thing, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman or the Human Tourch with a single button, which adds a layer of variety and fun. But the artificial intelligence that controls the other characters is fundamentally flawed. Too often, the computer-controlled heroes just stand around, silently taking a beating by the bad guys until they finally pass out. At other times, they get so behind the action, failing to keep up with the player controlled hero, that they have to teleport back into a scene.
Fortunately, the game does allow extra gamers to take over the other characters, which improves the experience significantly (though it would be even better if they could join from their own homes via an online connection).
“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” is a decent game, but it leaves gamers feeling that they have joined a group of Ambien addicts rather than a powerful team of superheroes.