Super Heros are cool. Villains are even cooler. With 24 playable characters, Activision’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 combines the two sides for an all out smash’em up RPG action game. Ultimate Alliance 1 was just a prototype set up to enhance Ultimate Alliance 2 with a rework of characters, attacks, and fused attacks between two super hero’s that allow for maximum damages. This time a civil war splits up all the hero’s and villains in Ultimate Alliance. Choose Rebel and you’re an outcast to the U.S. government “attempting” to clean up the streets in order to increase national security via the Superhuman Registration Act. Or would you rather work for “the man” and with their help abolish those who oppose? Choice is yours! Also, here’s another chance to play as Wolverine again!
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 combines four superhero’s in the storylined theme and gives you the ability to attack at will. Have a destroying fetish? This game will please your crate bashing needs. But I need to explain, the game is quite linear. To clarify, you’re exploration skills are kept in check. While you will find some hidden items by looking in hidden spaces, most feel like the item should have been there rather than “Look what I found”. You view angles vary from level to level, but when you see a camera icon in the lower right corner the view is static. When you can free-roam using the R3 stick, will give you a good perspective of the enemies and level around you. But don’t get used to it, since most times your only view is from behind forcing your view to look only forward.
Decision-able cutscene’s. Vicarious Visions have developed a solid storyline from the opening scene. Although I do wish the voices represented how I felt the characters should sound. Many like Iron man and Spider man needed better voice casting. Everyone knows Wolverine should always sound raspy. Throughout the story mode, you’re prompted with choices. Depending on how diplomatic or aggressive your answers are reflect what kind of superhero you’re destined to become. I mentioned the gameplay is linear but the micro-details in replying to questions have choice. These scenes display the games 720p graphics and bolster 5.1 surround audio.
Assemble your staff. Like a good manager you need to pick your cast. Do you fill your roster with the Fantastic 4? All X-men? Or mix the good with the bad? But know staffing one of your 4 roster positions come with benefits. For example, if you select any one member from the X-men team, your squad will be enhanced with 15% stamina. There are also “Boosts” to help your team. Picking these “Boosts” along the way can equip your team with perks like; raise experience points earned by 15% and absorb 10% of melee damage as stamina. You can have up to 3 active badges. By far the coolest aspect of MUA 2 are the hero swaps. If you ever get bored with a super hero, swapping them out (if available an unlocked) is easily managed.
Attacking the mob. For the first time, watch Storm and Captain America team up with the new in-game feature Fusion Attack. L2 + square, triangle, circle or X. Each button represent a different character. Fill your Fusion Meter to collect stars by inflicting damage with both melee and power attacks. Get a star and you’re awarded with an opportunity to unleash some serious Marvel ass kicking. Each character has 4 special attacks that can be used by pressing R2 + square, triangle, circle or X. Watch your stamina because each use of a special attack will drain your regenerative stamina meter. I like the inclusion of displaying how much damaged was caused when attacking by showing a number over your targets head after an attack. For regular foe’s there will be a meter bar representing his health and bosses will be displayed in the lower left by form of a round meter.
Loading and Install time. With console hard drives increasing on every latest one announced I don’t mind installing some needed game data for better performance. And Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 took advantage for what I believe in. A lengthy install time plus a mandatory 2.5 gb went too far. So you think there would be little load times? Not excruciating to wait, but there were load times even with 2.5gb worth of data copied locally. I would hate to see the performance without it. Ouch! But at least the Loading screens provided some hero information that carried me a long way in the game’s hero trivia portion. Hmm, I didn’t know Peter Parker was Spider-man…
Co-op play friendly. Vicarious Visions thought out the co-play and made playing with others both un-invasive yet practical. The addition of a quick menu allows players to upgrade their character while temporarily putting them under computer controlled A.I. and allowing your friends not to skip a beat. While on-line has it’s issues of players swapping hero’s causes everyone to wait for the leader of the game to select.
Decision based storyline
24 playable characters
Long install time/ load times
Bottom Line. Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 2 has picked up where they left off with MUA 1, but with improvements, a better roster and showing off Fusion Attacks. For fans of Marvel, it’s a must have. For fans of action/rpg games it’s a have game. And for people that are spoiled with go anywhere / do anything games (sandbox) you’ll see your range of movement limited. Overall, MUA2 boasts fun gameplay, split storyline (rebel or gov.) and 24 Playable Marvel Characters. With the possibility of DLC, the roster could expand well into the 35 player range.