How long ago was it that the first game hero commented slyly on the shortcomings of the challenges they faced?
We're sure the trick was a staple of computer games even in the late 80s, so when the Green Lantern comments twice in the first level on how tiresome the flood of grunts is, we can be forgiven for preparing ourselves for a campaign of despair.
Coming hot on the heels of Sega's Thor, it's both astounding and enraging that Green Lantern's gameplay is so very identical - another 'Don't mention God of War!' job. Admittedly, though the former had by far the better license, this is slightly less ugly, and has a few more bells and whistles, but as we've had our fill of combo-driven on-rails brawlers long ago, we're not tempted to let Double Helix off lightly just because the charmless Jordan has the odd moment of self-awareness.
In the 'bells and whistles' inventory we'd include drop-in co-op, which can improve the endless chore of area clearance, and though the Manhunters are dismally dull mechanoid foes, and often completely brainless, every corner of each battleground throbs with energy without too much of the jagged scenerysnagging of most identikit DC or Marvel titles.
The Green Lantern's world is an anaemically smooth, shiny one after all, with no rough edges, and an idiotically naive Ed Wood-style mythology where space heroes battle to stop yellow fear energy using green willpower, and characters are called things like Queen Aga'Po of the Zamarons. (Well, the world was dreamt up over 70 years ago).
Combat is an avid button-masher's birthday treat of course, with Hal's basic Power Ring-fuelled 'constructs' (every weapon manifests itself from the Green Lantern's personality, or lack of it) gradually fleshed out with an array of bombs, baseball bats, lasers and so on assigned to a trigger-shifted face button, making for a desperate in-battle display of multi-finger-waggling. It's neater than Thor's system, if a bit of a nightmare to recall every time you return to the game.
Other small mercies include shoot- 'em-up flying sections, 3D capability, and even trailers for the movie and cartoon (hardly a saving gace, but it's an effort more movie tie-ins could make).
But though the ten levels offer a hardy challenge, it still follows an inane, exhausted template which any developer nursing a superhero license should now vow to avoid like the clap.
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A pretty good recycling of a braingougingly boring gameplay template
- Bells and whistles
- Tired, tiresome gameplay
- Bland design