Watchmen: The End Is Nigh is the two-part series of episodic downloadable video games. Both parts are currently available to download for the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Marketplace for the PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Store, and for the PC via Steam. They are also available in a box version. There are currently no plans for a third installment. Dave Gibbons was an advisor for the game's development, and Len Wein, creator of Wolverine, wrote the dialog.
Each part presents an original story with characters presented and mentioned in both the comic book and the movie. Part 1 follows Rorschach and Nite Owl as they pursue a villain who escaped from Sing Sing prison, while part 2 deals with the disappearance of a girl which is connected to city's pornographic industry.
Watchmen: The End Is Nigh features beat-em-up game play reminiscent of old-school scrollers like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. It features single-player as well as split-screen two-player co-op. If one person is playing, he can pick who he wants to play as and the other character will be controlled by the AI; if two people are playing, then both can pick a character to use. The player(s) are able to go through stages, fight different enemies and collect two types of items. Symbols of each hero unlock a new move, while a special item (battery or a Rorschach card) improves special ability matter (electricity charge for Nite Owl, rage for Rorschach). The story is given through main characters dialogs and comic book-style cut scenes.
Rorschach and Nite Owl play out very differently from one another, adding replayability to the game since players will likely want to experience the abilities of both characters. While both characters can perform basic operations, such as running, attacking, pulling levers, and grappling opponents (all to the same effectivness), and both have an ability meter than increases when attacking enemies, they have many unique traits, large and subtle alike.
Rorschach attacks opponents by performing a series of quick punches, and can also attack by elbowing or kneeing. He can dodge the attacks of enemies by barrel rolling out of the way, and his power meter decreases when he is not attacking anyone. Rorschach's standard ability is a bull rush that, while short in duration, can take down several thugs if aimed right. His unlockable ability is a sort of "Rage" mode where his speed and offensive output temporarily increases. He can also lift up objects such as bottles, batons, baseball bats, knives, etc. to attack thugs with, although these break and become unuseable after a certain amount of time. Additionally, Rorschach can climb pipes to reach rooftops, and can roll under gates that Nite Owl can lift up. Rorschach can even pick locks (a skill taken from the comic) so that he can access shortcuts, but this is surprisingly difficult and takes skill and time to do.
Nite Owl, on the other hand, primarily attacks opponents by performing different low and high kicks, but will also occasionally punch as well. He can block attacks by momentarily covering his suit in a coat of electricity, stunning anyone who hits him, but this decreases his meter because performing this operation takes up some of his suit's energy. Nite Owl's standard ability is pounding a small smoke bomb onto the ground, which stuns enemies and leaves them open for attack. His unlockable ability allows him to fire several quick blasts of electricity from his suit at nearby opponents. However, this ability can be upgraded so that after the blasts are done, his suit remains in a thick, sparkling layer of electricity, which adds additional damage to his attacks. Also, when thugs try to attack him while in this electrical layer, they are automatically stunned and damaged when they hit him, even if Nite Owl doesn't block. However, he stills feels the hit, which, of course, causes damage. Additionally, Nite Owl can lift up gates that Rorschach can roll under, and uses a grappling gun to quickly reach the tops of buildings (which is odd, considering that in the comic Rorschach is the one with the grappling gun, not Nite Owl). If the latter is performed at nighttime, Nite Owl automatically turns on Night Vision lenses so that the player can see better, but these turn off when he gets back to ground level.
Although Rorschach and Nite Owl often stick together throughout the game, there are many times when players are forced to split up, forcing them to fight thugs and solve puzzels alone. Throughout the game, several different enemy types are encountered. There are standard enemies who are balanced in speed, strength, and durability; there are very slim opponents (usually women in Episode II) who are especially fast but weak; there are large (usually obsese) enemies who are very slow but extremely strong and durable; and there are boss characters, who have extremely high stats all-around. Because enemies are always in groups, and are mixed in types, fighting off large groups can become very difficult. Throught the game, players will fight gangsters, prisoners, and hookers, among others.
Rorschach and Nite Owl are voiced by Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Wilson, respectively, who reprise their roles from the movie. Doctor Manhattan, Silk Spectre, and The Comedian make cameos throughout the game, but are not voiced by the actors who played them in the film. Ozymandias also makes a cameo on a TV screen seen in one cutscene, but does not talk. Although both Underboss and The Twilight Lady are referenced in the comic, this game marks the first time they have physically appeared.
The story of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh part 1 takes place before the main storyline of the graphic novel, taking place before the Keene Act. It follows the adventures of Rorschach and Nite Owl II as they fight crime, searching for Underboss. 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 helped taking down prisoners and discover that 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, busting a bikers gang on their way, 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. After a long battle with Knot Tops who protected Jimmy, they corner him on the tracks of a roller coaster, where someone activates the carts to try and 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 manages to tell them the Underboss is in his old hideout in the sewers, so after calling an ambulance for Jimmy, that's where Nite Owl and Rorschach go. Jimmy also said that he was asked by someone to bring some unknown materials to the sewers.
Arriving in the Underboss's sewer hideout, they don't find him, nor those unknown materials, but instead they find a group of mercenaries waiting for them and the missing FBI associate director, Mark Felt, tied up and bleeding heavily, seemingly tortured. He tells them that someone (whom the heroes presume to be Underboss) means to kill two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the would-be informers of the Watergate scandal. Rorschach started to believe that Underboss truly has a partner who helped him escape using Jimmy the Gimmick and organized the mercenary group in his old hideout. Upon leaving the sewers, Nite Owl and Rorschach are ambushed by the police, Rorschach chiming in that they've been set up. Knowing they have only minutes before the reporters will be killed in the Felt's meeting place, they had no other choice then to fight the police.
They fight their way through them to get to the construction site where Felt told them reporters are, only to find that both of them are already dead, lying in the Underboss' car together with a stock of weapons delivered to him by the unknown ally. Underboss, surprised the bodies are here, claims he had nothing to do with it, and that he was set up. The duo started fighting him and chases him up the construction site. Underboss uses a flamethrower against the duo and his fellow thugs help him in the battle. In the end, the duo manage to corner him, but the Comedian snipes him from afar, causing to fall into a coma, before he could reveal who set him up.
Rorschach and Nite Owl didn't know it was him shooting, however. It turned out that the Comedian was the mastermind behind all the events, which means the United States government was involved, as he works for them. Probably, the whole Underboss case was designed by Nixon's government to eliminate both reporters and the FBI director in a realistic way, as Underboss previously had a grudge against them, so no more details on the Watergate scandal would be revealed. The mysterious Underboss's partner was probably the Comedian himself.
Set some time after the first part, Watchmen: The End Is Nigh part 2 take place during the police riot that led directly to the Keene Act. Nite Owl is busy repairing Archie, so he could help stop the riot, but is distracted by Rorschach who asks him to help find a missing girl, Violet Greene. Her parents received a tape in which she is seemingly being forced to take part in a BDSM pornographic movie. Using his experimental lenses, Nite Owl is able to see a sign for "Treasure Island" just behind the window shown in the movie. Rorschach claims he knows the place, persuades Nite Owl to help him, and soon both are entering The Honey Pot, a strip\disco club which houses a porn studio.
After fighting through local guards and costumers, they find the place where the movie was shot, but the girl is nowhere to be seen. They proceed to interrogate the porn director who is in charge of the whole place, but Rorschach spots him hiding a gun and kills him by smashing his head by the window, so they search the porn archives and find the full version of the movie, where the Twilight Lady is clearly seen.
The duo decides to proceed to the villainess's hideout, but are caught in the middle of a street riot which is caused by Knot Tops, as the police are absent. They fight their way through the burning, ravaged streets, heading to the waterfront, to a secret Nite Owl's warehouse. After taking out many Knot Tops, they finally reached their destination and grab some of the hover bikes created by Nite Owl.
Using the devices, they reach Twilight Lady's hideout, an old mansion turned into a BDSM elite club. Here, after taking out the gatekeeper, they fight their way through gimps and dominatrixes, all wearing BDSM clothes. Soon they encounter Twilight Lady, only to find out that Violet Greene is actually here by her own free will, as she is able to earn much more money than her parents. The customers of the mansion are revealed to include a senator and the police chief. While Nite Owl starts to believe that there isn't much to be done here, Rorschach is willing to fight Twilight Lady to the end, as he claims she is corrupting the youth.
The duo pursues Twilight Lady to the roof and battles her, crushing her on the glass dome atop the mansion's main hall. Rorschach is willing to kill her, while Nite Owl (who also had some relationships with her in the past) says it's to much. The conflict results in the climactic battle of two partners, and the winner decides the Twilight Lady's fate.
If Night Owl wins, he crashes Rorschach on the same glass roof the Twilight Lady is lying on, but this time the glass breaks. Rorschach falls down while Twilight Lady is caught by Nite Owl. Terrified by what he's just done, Daniel looks down but sees no traces of Rorschach. Twilight Lady tries to flirt with her savior, but he shouts at her, demanding her to leave the city or he'll kill her himself. He then leaves, broken by what had just happened.
If Rorschach wins, he overcomes Daniel and steals his grappling gun. He then shoot the Twilight Lady with it, resulting in her falling to her death. Daniel falls to his knees, broken, and shouts to Rorschach to leave.
After the incident, both the Keene Act and the battle for Twilight Lady's fate mark an end to the partnership of Nite Owl and Rorschach. And while a depressed Nite Owl teams up with the Comedian to quell the riot, Rorschach is seen stalking the streets, ready to fight crime.
The End is Nigh received mostly mixed reviews from critics. While popular reviewers GamePro gave it a 4-star review, noting that "Even with its shortcomings, Watchmen always feels fresh, and really stands apart as a downloadable title." On the contrary, most reviewers such as IGN and GameDaily noted that the action became stale over time, many comparing it to the well-known beat 'em up Streets of Rage. Review aggregator Metacritic gave a total score of 60, meaning 'mediocre' reviews.