Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters

rated T / $59.99
rel. June 2011

GOOD: fun two player super-heroics

BAD: short; not enough characters

FINAL: You WANT this game.
4 out of 5 stars

Courtesy Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

When big budget family action films show up at the theater, it is inevitable that a video game is not far behind. In many cases, movie games end up being half-baked, partially because game development is often an afterthought in the larger plan of advertising and hype. So it is with great trepidation that we approach movie games.

"Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters" manages to break the curse of cash-in Hollywood games by providing aa easily playable experience that holds a steady level of fun from start to finish. In the world of movie games, "Green Lantern" found success by identifying the right model to copy: Sony's breezily violent "God of War" series.

Although we're never quite assured of where "Rise of the Manhunters" takes place when compared to the summer's movie version, the game gives us Ryan Reynolds as newly minted super-hero Green Lantern. Reynolds' likeness in the game comes up short, but his voice work is exemplary. The game has him traveling over nerdy ground that was not included in the film, and he carries off the space opera terminology with vigor and sincerity.

This adventure keeps Green Lantern in the cosmos, battling a robotic invasion across several planets (including the Green Lantern homeworld of Oa, as seen in the film.) The game brilliantly allows for two players: one as Reynolds' Hal Jordan, the other as the contemptuous Sinestro, a fellow Lantern with a supporting role in the movie. The game does a fine job of replicating the comic book conceit that the Green Lanterns' Power Rings can create anything the wearer can imagine. Over the course of the game, you unlock twelve different weaponized "constructs" like machine guns and ball-and-chains, and many more variations are included in the players' basic attacks.

Just as in "God of War," the idea here is to cut through waves of enemies using gigantically impressive attacks. Particularly in two-player mode where buddies can split the attention of the Manhunter armies, it is fun to pick and choose among the constructs. How about you soften up an enemy with the ack-ack of a gatling gun, get in a good smack with a baseball bat, and then pummel him with giant pistons from a steam engine? Larger baddies, once weakened, can be knocked out with special attack scenes that require the player to press specific buttons as shown onscreen. It would have been easy to shortstack this game with only a few simple attacks, but "Rise of the Manhunters" goes for broke with plenty of imaginative, comic-faithful visuals.

"Rise of the Manhunters" carries a T-rating, which, aside from bloodless violence against robots and aliens, might be a warning for parents against Ryan Reynolds' constantly saying "What the hell?" during the game's storyline sequences. Parents, if you can get past that with your six-year-old, this is a great game for little fans of super-heroes. Green Lantern's light is not too dark for kids and not too bright for adults.

Although there are many Green Lanterns in the DC Comics Universe, very few are seen in this game. "Rise" gives us Hal and Sinestro, plus the brutish Kilowog as background dressing. It would have been nice to have more choice among playable characters, considering how many alien Lanterns are seen in the movie.

The game is on the short side (about seven hours for a two-player playthrough at the medium difficulty setting), so the initial $60 price tag might encourage gamers to wait for a sale. Still, it is great to see a movie game that does a comic book character justice while keeping inside the necessary limitations of an action-adventure video game.

This review is based on product that was supplied by the game's publisher.