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SummaryThe World's Largest Group Of SuperHeroes Is At Your Disposal, Don't Muck It Up!
The GoodFollowing the success of X-men Legends, and its sequel, X-men Legends II: The Rise Of Apocalypse. Raven, and publisher Activision, have teamed up again to bring us Marvel Ultimate Alliance. With nearly the entire Marvel Universe at the gamer’s disposal, could MUA be the greatest superhero RPG ever made?
In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the nefarious Dr. Doom has, formed, “The Masters Of Evil”. With Victor Von Doom at the helm, they plan to take over the world, and destroy the Marvel Super Heroes once and for all.
Meanwhile Colonel Nick Fury, of S.H.I.E.L.D. has brought together: Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, and Wolverine.(And that is just the tip of the heroes at your fingertips.-MM) To counter the menace of Von Doom.
From the get go, you have about ten heroes to choose from and form a group of four. As the game progresses, you will be able to unlock more and more heroes to join your motley crew.(From a pool of over 20!-MM-) Some heroes you only have to encounter to join up. Others will take special requirements. Which range from rescuing them from peril, or finding hidden figurines of the character.
The quest will span various Marvel locals, from Tony “Iron Man” Stark’s tower, to the depths of Mephisto’s Realm to the heights of the Watchers citadel.
The game is split into acts. In each there are an allotted amount of missions. Anywhere from 2-5. In each act, you have a central hub to explore. Or have a chat with other non-playable inhabitants of Marvel Earth. Such as: Black Widow, or Hank Pym, AKA Ant/Giant Man.(Among others.-MM-) There are side-quest’s you can take from NPC’s. As well as a trivia game to play, in order to win additional experience points. Or find, and look at some hidden artwork, in the form of “sketch books”.
With your team of heroes, you will of course have to do battle with tons of baddies, including super-villains. The battle/leveling system is basically a refined version of that found in the two X-Men Legends games. For those unfamiliar with those games, I will go over it….now.
In battle you basically have a strong/weak attack. Be it punches or kicks. You can grab foes and throw them, or beat the crap outta them. Jumping, aside from the expected result also allows you to perform a diving attack. Chaining weak/strong attacks, from combos, and will more often than not, finish off a foe faster. There are also super-powers at your disposal. From defensive ones, to attacks. Spidey’s web-shooters, and Silver Surfer’s cosmic bolts, to name a few. Heroes can also chain super-powers together. To create even more devastating attacks! With over 20 possible heroes, there is a megaton of combos available. Each superhero, also has an ultimate super-move. These are best saved for super-villains as they do massive damage, and are something to look at as well. Speaking of super villains.
Fights with drones are fun enough. But where the game really shines is during combat with a super-villain. These range from taking on Rhino, or Black Heart, to huge villains: (Literally and figuratively.-MM-) such as Galactus, and Dr. Doom. These battles like those found in the comic books are titanic battles. That not only test brawn but brains as well. As in many of these battles you must make use of a certain strategy in order to win the battle. For instance, when it is time to do battle with Galactus, the Silver Surfer will come you your aid. Playing as the “Sky rider Of The Space Ways”. You then have to successfully complete Shenmue-esque QTE’s. (Or whatever they are called in MUA.-MM-)
Experience Points or EXP is gathered and used as in most RPGS. However in MUA, it is a little different. EXP orbs are dropped by defeated enemies. Including bosses. When enough is gathered to level up, you can distribute points to power up moves. You cannot alter HP, Strength, etc, those stats as in most console RPGS are unalterable. But you can find items that raise DEX and so forth by plus 1. Superheroes not being used earn experience also, so that they do not fall too far behind.(Why can’t more RPGS adopt this?-MM-) You can also equip various items to boost stats. Speaking of boosts.
Forming certain teams also adds stat boosts. Teams such as The Fantastic Four, The New Avengers, etc. Another cool feature used in MUA, is special dialogue that can be viewed. For example if you have Spider-Man in your group and you encounter Mystero there will be banter between the two of them, that you would not see otherwise.
Other nice unlockables include alternate costumes for your heroes. These are gained by using a said hero. The various suits themselves, four for each hero. Can be assigned points to further boost the characters. There is also artwork to unlock, side-missions. Lots of great stuff.
The ending of the game. Is done very well. As seen in Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura. There is a general ending, plus the game shows you all the differences your superheroes made in the Marvel Universe. The first play you may miss some events. The more you do the better your ending will be. Which helps add to replay value. As does the kicking online modes.
Sound + The Vision
The graphics is MUA, are also based on the graphics engine seen in X-Men Legends. Only they are NOT cell-shaded. Thankfully. As cell-shaded graphics are over used in games today. Hell one of the only games it looked good in was Sega’s Jet Grind Radio games.
MUA gives us fully 3D characters and areas. As well as some nice matte-painting quality flat or static backdrops. Great lighting effects abound as well. In the end the graphics really capture the look of the Marvel license without making use of the overused cell-shading.
High quality sound and music also helps sell the game. The music is epic and fit’s the subject matter very well. The sound effects are also top-quality.
The voice acting was also a top priority of Raven’s list. As we have come to expect form the developer. Great voiceovers. There are even a few celebrities thrown into the mix.
The BadEvil Machinations
All is not well in MUA. I think that there could have been more playable heroes. Where is The Hulk? The Punisher? Just to name two. I understand that it would have been impossible to include EVERY SINGLE superhero. Here’s hoping for a sequel with more!
The fact that the ending is based on what you accomplished is awesome. But as with Arcanum it may piss off some people.
There are no healing potions in the game. Instead you heal by collecting orbs from fallen foes. Yet if you have a hero near death they will most likely not last long enough to be healed. This is more of a problem during boss fights. At least resurrecting heroes is free, unlike X-Men Legends.
The Bottom Line“Save This City. Save It From The Hands Of Destruction.”-Lyrics from Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin, Sega CD-
Marvel Ultimate Alliance, in the end is the better game when compared with the X-Men Legends franchise. Arguably this could be one of the if not THE greatest superhero game ever made!
Marvel fans HAVE to play this game. After all can you really pass up the chance to save the Marvel Universe?