Watchmen has been touted as the most celebrated graphic novel of all time, and while the videogame won’t quit reach that height it can still be a lot of fun. Operating as a standard beat-em up in the old days of videogames would have gotten the game lost in a sea of clones, but today it actually makes it stand out as something most gamers will enjoy playing if for nothing else than the classic style. When Watchmen fans heard a game was being made to go along with the movie most of them probably cringed, but rest assured Watchmen: The End is Nigh doesn’t touch the original story in any damaging way and actually helps to expand the already rich universe of the Watchmen.
The game plays like all the beat-em ups of old and makes it fun again to go crazy just beating the crap out of the same enemies fifty times a level. Co-op is a big inclusion in the game but unfortunately they didn’t have the time to build in online co-op, which was a huge missed opportunity. While it is disappointing playing with somebody next to you is still the way to play these types of games. Splitscreen multiplayer local co-op is the only option but it works and works well.
Standard fighting works surprisingly well and adds just enough depth to the game to make it not seem like your just button mashing your way through the game. Hitting X throws the standard light attack and Y throws a heavy and hitting these in a specific order makes combos. You probably could button mash but you won’t do anywhere near as well as someone who takes the time to memorize a couple combos. Which luckily is really easy to do because as you’re pulling the combo off your buttons are displayed onscreen which does a great job of reinforcing the combo into your head.
Left and right triggers have a special move attached to them for both characters and all four of them are really fun to use and useful to do. Lastly, sometimes a button will appear over an enemy’s head which upon pressing delivers an instant kill, always accompanied by a sweet scene showing the character finishing them off. Rorschach’s are especially cool and gruesome.
Rorschach and Night Owl are the heroes of this particular tale and that’s a really good thing because who else would you want to play in a beat-em up from Watchmen but the brutal and awesome character of Rorschach. Rorschach plays just like you would hope, breaking arms and legs and just being as ruthless with the scum of the city as he can. Activating his right trigger special sends Rorschach into a bull rush that knocks over any enemy it hits and damages them which is very useful for getting out of a tight spot. Activating his left trigger special makes Rorschach really mad. He goes into rage mode which allows for much higher damage on all hits and makes him throw the hits faster.
Night Owl is the geek he should be with his special moves all consisting of using one of his gadgets from his suit. Press right trigger and he slams his fist into the ground which acts as a good crowd control when it knocks all the enemies back and stuns them. Press left trigger and he shoots out electricity which can kill some enemies in one shot but the others get severally damaged and stunned. All the gadget use doesn’t mean he can’t hold his own in a fight; Night Owl can still throw a good punch. Both characters are fun to play as and are different enough to warrant a second playthrough.
The story takes place before the Keene Act shut down all masked vigilantism and tells of the time when Rorschach and Night Owl teamed up to take down the Underboss. Taking an event that was referenced to in the legendary books and fleshing it out was a really smart idea instead of trying to retell the Watchmen story in videogame form. Hopefully more of these side stories are expanded upon for future releases. The environments this story brings on though are really generic and kind of boring. From the docks to the sewers drab similar looking environments abound, and while they all look really good (especially for a downloadable game) seeing literally the same section of a level copied and pasted over again gets old real quick. Luckily the game included a button that points you right straight where you need to go. I can understand why it had to happen that way thanks to the restrictions of a downloadable game but it’s still worth pointing out.
Making a game based on Watchmen was once thought of as an undoable task but the guys over at Deadline Games A/S did a pretty good job. The side story provides a nice way of setting up these fights with all these enemies and the combat system is legitimately enjoyable. Even with the seemingly high price of $20 for a downloadable game any Watchmen fan or fan of old arcade beat-em ups should consider this well worth their money.