Watchmen: The End Is Nigh
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Director(s)||Søren Raadved Lund|
|Designer(s)||Uffe Friis Lichtenberg|
|Genre(s)||Action, beat 'em up|
Watchmen: The End Is Nigh is an episodic video game series that serves as a prequel to the film adaptation of the DC Comics graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The game was originally announced for release in downloadable installments on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade, with the first one released on March 4, 2009 to coincide with the film's theatrical release. The second episode was released on July 30, 2009.
Both episodes were released together on disc on July 21, 2009 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A limited edition of the PlayStation 3 version was released billed as "The Complete Experience", which also included the extended Director's Cut version of the film in Blu-ray format.
The game allows players to take on the roles of either Rorschach or Nite Owl in single player or cooperative multiplayer. Rorschach and Nite Owl are the only playable characters in the game's first episode, which comprises six "chapters." Cutscenes that look like animated comic panels, similar to those seen in the Watchmen motion comics released on iTunes, bookend each chapter. Two of the film's actors, Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley, provide their voices for their characters Nite Owl and Rorschach, respectively. The game features a mix of beat-em-up and puzzle gameplay, with the two characters having different strengths and abilities. Rorschach is faster with unconventional attacks and makes use of improvised weapons like crowbars and baseball bats; Nite Owl is slower but has a solid martial arts method and uses technological devices, such as "screecher bombs", and the grappling gun. The characters must work cooperatively to pass puzzles and defeat enemies.
The game is set in 1972 during the Crimebusters (for the film adaptation, The Watchmen) era. The first chapter of the game is a tutorial taking place while Rorschach and Nite Owl infiltrate a prison. Underboss, a villain mentioned in the comic book, appears in the game, as do other adversaries who are only mentioned or briefly shown in flashbacks in the original comic. Nite Owl's flying craft, Archimedes, appears in the game, but the player never has control over it during the game.
An article on Comicmix.com emphasized the game's focus on teamwork between the two characters: in single-player mode, the AI controls the other character aside from the main character, while the game can be played in Local Co-op with two players as both characters. The article also mentioned there would be no online Co-op mode.
The End Is Nigh takes place during the Crimebusters era (renamed Watchmen for the film adaptation), when Rorschach and Nite Owl II were crime-fighting vigilantes before the Keene Act passed in 1977. Upon hearing a police bulletin, Nite Owl and Rorschach make their way to Sing Sing prison to help quell the rioting that has erupted there.
Once there, they find out the riots were a ruse to cover up the escape of The Underboss, a crime lord. They make their way to a bar, the Rumrunner, and question one of the patrons to find out who orchestrated the escape. They find out Jimmy the Gimmick was behind it, so they chase him down the docks to an abandoned amusement park. They corner him on the tracks of a roller coaster, where someone activates the carts to try to kill Jimmy. Nite Owl holds them back with his grappling hook but a mysterious sniper shoots the cable, causing the carts to fly right into Jimmy, causing him to be severely injured. Before his fall off the roller coaster, Jimmy managed to tell them the Underboss is in his old hideout in the sewers, so after calling an ambulance for Jimmy, that is where Nite Owl and Rorschach go.
They don't find him, but they do find a missing FBI associate director, Mark Felt, tied up and bleeding heavily, seemingly tortured. He tells them that someone (who the heroes presume to be Underboss) means to kill two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the would-be informers of the Watergate scandal. Upon leaving the sewers, Nite Owl and Rorschach are ambushed by the police, Rorschach chiming in that they have been set up.
They fight their way through them to get to the construction site where Felt told them Underboss is, only to find that the reporters are already dead. Underboss claims he had nothing to do with it, that he was set up. The duo chases him up the construction site and manages to corner him, but the Comedian snipes him from afar. It turned out the Comedian was the mastermind behind all the events, working on behalf of the American government to cover up the Watergate Scandal (a reference to a comment made about Woodward and Bernstein by the Comedian in both the graphic novel and film).
In Part 2, Rorschach sets on the trail of a missing girl named Violet Greene. With a reluctant Nite Owl in tow, they infiltrate a seedy strip club, where they discover that the kidnapper is the Twilight Lady, an old flame of Nite Owl's. They break into her mansion (which acts as a high class brothel) and discover that Violet enjoys being a prostitute, however Rorschach claims that she may have been brainwashed. Nite Owl says that if Violet is there of her "own free will" then there is nothing that they can do. Rorschach disagrees, and the pair chase Twilight Lady through the mansion, before she is thrown into a skylight. The ending of the chapter depends upon the outcome of the final battle (between Nite Owl and Rorschach). If Nite Owl wins, then Rorschach is thrown through the skylight, and Twilight Lady is rescued. If Rorschach wins, however, then Nite Owl is thrown to one side, and Rorschach smashes the skylight, thus killing Twilight Lady. Whichever character is the victor, the game ends with the partnership between Nite Owl and Rorschach being severed, and Nite Owl teaming up with the Comedian to quell a riot (an event which is depicted both in the graphic novel, and the film).
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment was announced to be publishing two downloadable games during the theatrical and DVD releases of the 2009 film. Deadline Games is developing the two properties. WB took this low-key approach to adapting the film to avoid rushing the game on this tight schedule, as most film games are panned by critics and gamers. The game is written by Len Wein, the comic's editor. Dave Gibbons, the comic's artist, is also an advisor.
Electronic Gaming Monthly announced the title of the game to be Watchmen: The End Is Nigh and had the game as its cover story for December 2008.
The game's reviews have been mixed. It scored a 5.5/10 on IGN and garnered poor reviews from FEARnet and Joystiq. 1up.com's review stated that the game was a "decent HD-generation beat-em-up" but cautions that "as gorgeous as everything is, it's also repetitive." GamePro awarded a 4 out of 5 while X-play gave it a 3 out of 5. Xbox Magazine gave it a 7 out of 10, while saying co-op was fun, but that they were disappointed no online co-op was given. Hyper's Daniel Wilks commends the game for its "rain effects, shadow and character models" as well as its "decent fighting engine". However, he criticises the game for "repetitive action and level design [and being] not particularly difficult". Video game talk show Good Game 's two presenters gave the game a 4 and 5 out of 10
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- Stephen Totilo (2008-07-23). "'Watchmen' Video Game Preview: Rorschach And Nite Owl Star In Subversive Prequel Set In 1970s". MTV. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
- 1UP Staff (2008-11-06). "EGM Watches the Watchmen in Our December Issue". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
- GameTrailers (2008-12-15). "Watchmen: The End is Nigh VGA teaser". GameTrailers. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Wilks, Daniel (April 2009). "Watchmen: The End Is Nigh". Hyper. Next Media (187): 61. ISSN 1320-7458.
- "Good Game stories - Watchmen: The End Is Nigh". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-03-23.