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'Watchmen' game: You get what you pay for

March 19, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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WatchmenWhen writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons produced the 'Watchmen' comic book series for DC Comics in 1986, they never dreamed their gritty deconstruction of the superhero genre would be made into a full-length feature film never mind a videogame. The pairing of such high-minded ideals and such vicious violence was difficult for the mainstream to ingest in the eighties.

Since then, we have had Frank Miller return The Dark Knight to his roots, Todd McFarlane unleashed Spawn, The Punisher has come, gone and come back again and Wolverine will have his very own feature film this spring.

It all began though with the Watchmen and their own brand of brutal justice. Brutal justice that continues on in the downloadable 'Watchmen: The End is Nigh' game (XBLA, PSN, PC) published by Warner Bros. Interactive. With night sticks, knives, baseball bats and crow bars at your disposal, New York City lowlifes don 't have a chance of concealing one of their own from the merciless Rorschach and his partner Nite Owl.

WatchmenNo, fan boys, you don't get to play the omnipotent Doctor Manhattan. Disintegrating baddies with just a simple thought? Where would the fun or challenge be in that...although that would have been a cool mode to unlock once you had beaten the game.

'Watchmen: The End is Nigh' takes place ten years before the events of the comic book series and the film. Someone has marked famed journalists Woodward and Bernstein for death and 'Underboss' is the prime suspect. As Nite Owl or Rorschach, you will punch, kick, batter and clobber your way through a maze of dark alleyways, the dank corridors of a prison and a treacherous construction site as you pursue the elusive 'Underboss'.

WatchmenThere is nothing pretty about the search either, although the game looks fantastic, as do the punishing combat moves. You move through linear pathways no matter what the setting is and using carefully timed combos, you clash with wave after wave of bikers, prison inmates, police officers and other assorted goons whose use of profanity is far more impressive than their fighting skills.

Upgrade tokens found throughout each level allow you to unlock new moves such as Nite Owl's electrified cape and there are a few puzzles to solve but they are more of the flip a switch, pick the lock or hit a button sort that would only baffle a blind mole for a moment or two.

WatchmenVeteran gamers will make short work of 'Watchmen: The End is Nigh'. The baddies always rely on strength in numbers so if you remember the strategies you used to get through those eighties and nineties beat 'em ups, you won't have much of a problem. A step above your routine button masher, the game represents a missed opportunity based on the source material but you can't get any better bone-breaking, head cracking fun for a measly twenty bucks.


Watchmen: The End is Nigh
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Games
Developer: Deadline Games
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 6 / 10


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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see