A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this violent brawler based on characters made famous by the graphic novel and film of the same name is not intended for children. The hand-to-hand combat is exceptionally brutal. Blood and teeth fly through the air, bones can be heard breaking, items like crowbars and bottles can be used to devastating effect, and slow-motion finishing moves are extraordinarily vicious. The game also features overt sexuality. Part of the second episode is set in a strip club, where scantily clad women dance in cages and peep show booths and a mild pornography is shown on a large screen. A superhero named Dr. Manhattan, who wears no clothes, appears briefly in the first episode. Be aware as well that there is strong language throughout, including multiple instances of the f-word. Note that the PlayStation 3 version of the game, subtitled “The Complete Experience” ships with the Blu-ray edition of Zack Snyder’s film, which, like the game, is geared for adult consumption.
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What's it about?
Based on characters from Zack Snyder’s Watchmen film -- which was based on Watchmen graphic novel -- WATCHMEN: THE END IS NIGH is composed of two separate episodes, each of which are just as adult-oriented as their source material. These extremely violent games focus on the prime crime-fighting years of Rorschach and Nite Owl, a pair of masked heroes who use their fists -- and, in the case of Nite Owl, a small assortment of gadgets -- to tear through massive groups of inmates, bikers, strip club guards, and other shady characters who get in their way as they track down their villainous prey. Both episodes were originally released as downloadable games for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PCs, but they have been bundled together for this boxed release. The PlayStation 3 edition costs about $20 more, and comes with the director’s cut of the film on a Blu-ray disc.
Is it any good?
Watchmen, which was chosen as one of the 100 best novels of the century by Time Magazine, has been praised for its dense plot, atypically realistic superheroes, and gritty atmosphere. Perhaps surprisingly, much of graphic novel’s essence has been carried into these two games, which feature plenty of intriguing philosophical discussions between their two protagonists, one a half-crazed pessimist and the other an intellectual who believes people are inherently good.
Unfortunately, the action, composed of extremely brutal and realistic melee combat, becomes monotonous after the first couple of chapters as you face wave after wave of cookie-cutter bad guys. Plus, the bland, linear levels feel like simple and repetitive mazes. Fans of the novel and movie will likely enjoy stepping into the shoes of their favorite characters for a while, but they’ll probably grow bored before even finishing the first episode. At least PlayStation 3 owners also get a copy of the film…
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between comic books and graphic novels (and their spin-offs in the world of movies and video games), and the age appropriateness of both. What is the difference between the sort content found in a comic like Spider-Man and something like Watchmen? For what ages do you think both are suitable?
Families can also discuss the viewpoints espoused by the game’s two leading characters. Do you identify more with the pessimistic Rorschach, who has a grim view of society and people in general, or do you agree with Nite Owl, who has an optimistic attitude and believes in the inherent goodness of humanity?
Do you think the age appropriateness for Watchman differs for the video game versus the movie? Does controlling the violence versus watching it make a difference?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.