Released: March 2009
Reviewed April 2009 by Jamie Davies
Many people called it `un-filmable` but the 2009 film adaptation of Watchman proved it could be done. Given how much of a curmudgeon co-creator Alan Moore has been regarding the film adaptations of his work, no doubt he’s been apoplectic to see his creations staring in a film-to-game title. However, unlike his reservations regarding the film, here his trepidation has been more than justified.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh marks a new era for that most infamous genre of games. Instead of providing a disc based tie in, this time it’s been released via the downloadable platform in episodic chunks (the second no doubt being expected to arrived the same time as the films DVD / Blu-ray release).
This episode revolves around Night Owl II and Rorschach, turning them into characters in a beat ‘em up which isn’t too far removed from the fighters of the PS1 and early PS2 years. The first thing that strikes you about the game is how good it looks for a downloadable title. Both of the main characters look suitably impressive, particularly Rorschach who’s trademark mask warps in real time and he shuffles along in his old inimitable style, hands jammed firmly in his pockets. It’s this high standard of presentation that initially gives such a good impression – the animated cutscenes between the levels even do a good job of aping Dave Gibbons style from the comics and are a particularly nice touch.
But start playing and it quickly becomes apparent that the game is a bit of a let down. The player will find themselves engaging in repeated fisticuffs with various identikit enemies, through various identikit levels, and it isn’t long before repetition well and truly takes hold. There are occasional moments when the player can perform some finishing moves or pick up a weapon, interspersed with the occasional lock picking mini game if playing as Rorschach. But because these are few and far between, ultimately they do little to separate the long bouts of button mashing boredom. The game continues on in this vein for the three hours that it lasts, by which time there’s a strong chance the player will have worn out their thumb and the button on the pad.
Perhaps the thing that compounds all these issues even more is the price of the game (presently 1600 Microsoft Points or £12.99 / € 14.55). For the limited time it lasts, the limited amount of fun it offers and the questionable replay value, charging so much for The End is Nigh smacks of blatantly trying to cash in on the launch of the film.
Which is a bit odd, seeing as hardcore Watchmen fans probably won’t touch it out of principle, while non-initiates to the Watchmen universe probably won’t think much of it to shell out so much money.