Treading in the slightly warm footprints of the our last Superhero game review, I have a review of the one of the more recent Marvel universe games, based on the Civil War storyline.

General Information

Title: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Systems: PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, Nintendo DS, and PSP
Release Date: September 15th, 2009
Genre: Action RPG

Available from Amazon.com

Premise

After a black ops attack on Doomstadt by a team of Supers lead by Nick Fury in Latveria leads to horrible reprisals on New York City, the US Government attempts to pass the Super Hero Registration Act, which would require all people with super powers to register for and work with the government or be imprisoned. Attempts to lobby legislators by Tony Stark and Captain America almost stop the bill from being passed, but the Stanford incident forces its passage.

Now, the pro-registration forces, lead by Tony Stark, and the anti-reg forces, lead by Steve Rogers, square off, with the freedom of superheroes at stake!

High Points

Stan Lee’s cameo appearance in the game is Amazing! Fantastic! Spectacular even!

The game also completely dumps the equipment system from the prior game in the series, instead using a boost system – with the player being able to collect boosts that effect the whole team, as well as by unlocking character specific boosts by completing specific “challenges” with certain characters (defeating specific enemies or numbers of enemies)

The animation’s for the game’s fusion system aren’t particularly dynamic (animations are re-used for many characters), they are implemented very well, and the game does a very good job of training the player into knowing when certain fusions work best.

Some of the special conversations (conversations in base areas between specific characters that have a background history together) are very well written and reference pieces of comic lore that might not be well known. For example, Spider-Man and the Green Goblin will not be happy with each other, Iron Fist will ask about Luke Cage’s wife, Jessica Jones, and so on.

While certain elements of Civil War’s idiocy remain, some of the more imbecilic elements (the “Myspace Interview” for example) are dumped. Further, the canonical ending of Civil War is thankfully kicked to the curb in favor of one with more of an ending where the anti-reg forces win, and the various sides finally work together again against a common foe.

Low Points

While some of the late game particulars are changed, particularly with the addition of a new universal enemy, much of the idiocy of Civil War still remains, with a few exceptions. Even in the Pro Reg levels, the Pro-Reg forces look like fascist nuts.

Also, the new enemy introduced for the game is okay, I’m still not too fond of the Tinkerer being the evil mastermind more-or-less behind the whole thing, especially considering that they could have used one of the other robotic villains of the Marvel universe for this plot. Maybe use Ultron, and have the nanobots be developed by Hank Pym, instead of adapted from designs by the Tinkerer by Mr. Fantastic.

The menu interface for selecting boosts is clunky as hell. After I selected my initial boosts, I just didn’t bother checking the new boosts I’d unlocked after that, simply because I didn’t want to be bothered with the menu.

Healing items in the game are impressively few and far between – unlockable only by completing certain criteria in special attacks, or finding them in the environment. Then, they can only be used to heal one character once, or revive one character once, and you can only have two of those items stored at a time. While I’m all for encouraging resource management, this is ridiculous. Consequently, characters with passive regeneration abilities, like Wolverine and Deadpool, or passive resurrection chance abilities, like Jean Grey, become far more use for characters without those powers.

There are some special conversation options here that are surprising with their absence. For example, Cable & Deadpool have no special conversation options, nor do, of all people, Storm and Black Panther (who were married at the time the game takes place).

Also, some of the unlockable bonus costumes are incredibly dumb looking, particularly Daredevil’s, Storm’s (which looks like something out of Vampirella), and Gambit’s (his outfit when he was Apocalypse’s Death, which makes him look like Elric with a staff).

Content Notes

This game was rated T for Teen by the ESRB, and has no gore or nudity in the game, and minimal profanity. The violence in the game in general is significantly tamer then the violence in most major comics these days anyway (considering the blood in, say, a Blackest Night or most Bendis comics).

Scores

Originality: The game’s story starts out more or less the same way as Civil War, before going off the rails in all the right ways at the end of the game. 4 out of 6.

Story: I actually like this story more than Civil War. 4 out of 6.

Graphics: The game looks very nice, both in the pre-rendered and in-engine cutscenes. 4 out of 6.

Sound: The voice acting is fine, and the sound effects are also very good. Character-specific in combat smack talk doesn’t get repetitive, and the music is enjoyable. 4 out of 6.

Playability: The game’s controls are solid, and it’s extremely easy to put combos together, with most of the skill in combat being related to knowing what powers to use when, instead of speed in button mashing. The new fusion power system helps with this a lot. 5 out of 6.

Immersion: The HUD is pretty minimal most of the time, but the camera is pulled far enough out that the game gets a more or less constant state of detachment while playing. 4 out of 6.

Overall: I enjoyed this game, and would call this the best in the Ultimate Alliance series, and I’m disappointed by the fact that we’re not going to get a third installment. 5 out of 6.

In total, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 gets 30 out of 42.