Published: Tuesday, 24 November 2009 00:05
Written by garfi3ld
Play as a team of your favorite superheroes in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
. Play as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil and many others as you fight your way through a story inspired by Marvel's Civil War comic books. MUA 2 picks up the story right where the first game left off. Vicarious Vision has added some fresh ideas and re-vamped some of the old mechanics. Did the developers listen to fans and create an ultimate sequel or did the changes ultimately ruin the game? Read on to find out what I thought!
Platform(s): PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PSP and Xbox 360 (Review Version)
Genre: Action, RPG
Release Date: 09/25/2009
Rated: T for Teen
The game opens with Nick Fury leading Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Iron Man into Latveria to take out Lucia von Bardas. She has been supplying villains with deadly technology while at the same time making nice with the U.S. government. The problem lies in the fact that Fury may have neglected to mention to our heros that this isn't a government-sanctioned mission. When Latveria retaliates by attacking New York the general populace overreacts about the team's "Secret War." Due to popular opinion over the terrorist attack people begin to consider the enacting of a "Superhero Registration Act". A law that would require those with super powers to register with the government and become part of the U.S. military. Anyone caught refusing to register is automatically declared a criminal and thus a "Civil War" erupts in the superhero world. The game continues on after you pick a side, either for or against registration which ultimatly decides which superheroes you want on your team. From this point the story revolves around a superhero civil war and the choice you make here decides how the next few missions will play out. So choose wisely.
During the course on an average mission you'll find you and three other teammates ripping through bad guys, breaking open containers, and destroying the environment. Most items when destroyed will dish out gobs of experience and health points, as well as hiding various secret collectibles. The attack commands come in the form of light, heavy, grab and jump. When you hold down the shoulder button in combination your character will unleash their special abilities.
Each superhero has their own unique set of abilities that you will gain access to as you level up; making the character feel more true to form. Unfortunately in this sequel's drive to simplify the gameplay; I found that several of the heroes' abilities to feel very generic. For instance: an innumerable amount of superheroes have a standard projectile attack that (even though the animation is different) does exactly the same thing. So, even when swapping out team-members for better "synergy" you kind of feel like you're just swapping out color palettes. Even the "fusion powers" (new to MUA 2) tend to feel generic at times. While these "fusion powers" do look cool and there's a possibility of 24 different hero pairings, there seems to be about six ways Storm can do a Hurricane\Tornado and about ten ways Wolverine can flank someone while smashing through everything in his path. Don't get me wrong, the "fusion powers" look amazing, inflict incredible amounts of damage and can be incredibly fun. However, when you see the same tornado appearing in only slighly different ways you don't get too excited about swapping out out other characters to try their "fusion" combinations.
However, I have to say the simplification of gameplay is not entirely unwanted. Being able to upgrade your abilities on the fly while the games artifical intelligence takes over your character is extremely welcome. This allows for the game to continue without slowing down your progress. Also, if you don't want to micromanage your character there is an "auto spend" option that allows you to keep your AI team members fully upgraded without having to stop game. Also gone are the days of permanent points. For example: If I want to try out all my points in one ability and then decide I don't like it, I can easily remove them and place them elsewhere without any penalty. This new simplified system has greatly improved the flow of the game and keeps the adr enaline pumping. Another feature added to the game is a new "Team Boost" system that effectively replaces the bonuses awarded from costumes in the original. The team has three slots to put over 200 different, unlockable boosts in. You'll pick these up from various missions, talking to non-playable characters (NPCs), and completing challenges. They can effect everything from melee damage, critical strike percentage, elemental powers to your characters regeneration. By combining different boosts and hero parings the player can exponentially increase the potential of their team.
The new mechanics, animations, and menus make the game feel fresh and entertaining all over again... at least for the first couple hours. Once you've repeatedly pressed your "A" button enough to warrant a turbo function, broken hundreds of boxes, and performed the same generic "fusion attacks" over and over the game will begin to drag. By the end of it everything begins to feel fairly mundane. Even the costume changes for each superhero are limited. In the first game each hero had three different outfits right from the start plus additional costumes that could be unlocked later on. This is not the case in MUA 2.
Fortunately the story is more interesting this time around and the dialogue has been improved as well. At the HQ wich acts like a hub between missions you can talk to various NPCs. The dialogue system presents you with three different responses. Options include: Aggressive, Diplomatic, or Defensive which not only gives a bit more depth to your character, but also fills up a bar that rewards team boosts. Finally the game has some serious re-playability. One of the first things I did after beating it, was go back and complete it again. This time I chose the opposite side of the registration act. Additionally, the challenge system is far better than it was in the first game: It's co-operative, challenging, and fun. There's several different challenge types, each providing excellent bonuses that will drive the player to getting gold in every single one.
The controls are simple and well laid out. Each button corresponds to an attack, and when the shoulder button is held in, the attack is modified by a corresponding power. In no time the player will be throwing down combos, abilities, and fusion powers left and right. The only gripe I had while playing the game is that it can be slightly confusing when a team member presses the fusion or heal button. Fortunately, each teammate has a button assigned to them. Once the player knows which button is assigned to which teammate it becomes very simple to use a targeted heal or fusion power. The controls didn't cause me any frustration throughout the game, and the characters never did anything I didn't fully intend.
Graphics and Audio
I've combined these two sections due to the simple fact that most of the game's audio comes in the form of cut scenes and conversations. While the animations, abilities, and fusion powers are vibrant and clear the cut scenes on the other hand don't look anywhere near today's standards. The voice acting is fairly poor and on occasion the conversations aren't properly animated. To be honest I can't really say a whole lot of good about the graphics or audio. In summation: MUA2 looks better than the first one but not by much.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is certainly fun and the developers have clearly attempted to listen to their fans. Although, I have to wonder why it took so long for this game to be released when so much of the material is the same. It's been difficult getting motivated to clear every single item in the game because it just feels repetitive. However, this game is nothing to scoff at. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't played the first Ultimate Alliance. To you the entire presentation will feel extremely fun, fresh, and exciting. To those of you that have finished the first game, I would recommend renting MUA2 before jumping on a purchase. But if you're dying for the next good Marvel game then this one is a good buy, but don't expect a completely new experience. At its core Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a mostly enjoyable experience but nothing much stood out as impressive.