By Clinton “dreddsix6six” O’Shea
I hate Batman: Arkham Asylum. Really. It’s made me expect way too much from other Super Hero based games, and they really won’t achieve those lofty heights again for some time. Shame for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, because it isn’t a terrible game, just one released in Batman: AA’s shadow. They are nowhere near similar, other than the fact that they’re based on comic books, so I’ll try not to mention and compare it to Batman: AA too much. I really will try.
Features and Game play
Unlike Batman: AA…Marvel UA2 is a (deep breath) 3rd person(-ish), squad based, RTS come RPG action game that doesn’t feature Batman. At all. It does however feature around 24 Marvel Super Heroes. Some of them are awesome and famous – Captain America, Spiderman, Daredevil – and some are…well, let’s just say, that in a movie they’d be the first to be killed off. Unlike Batman.
So there you go. If that’s your kinda game, off you go. Oh. You need more information? You can have your heroes change into an alternative outfit. This is a bit like Batmam: AA.
Alright, I’ll stop now. In its own right, Marvel UA2 is a perfectly decent game. It fills the 8 hours on a single playthrough with feelings of being part of the Super Hero community, but you never really “live” it. You pick your preferred 4 man (or lady) team from the available Heroes (some are locked at the beginning), and start off on the campaign for good, swopping between team members on the fly. There are bad people in Latveria who need to be taught a lesson or two, and you are the team to do that. Or are you? In a typical comic book bit of storytelling, there are twists and turns which ultimately lead you to the main choice in the game – whose side are you on? I doubt I am spoiling the story that much by telling you that you get to choose, around 1/3rd through the game, if you are pro- or anti- Super Hero registration. Government just wants to control you – man.
And it’s on. You get to beat up other Super Heroes and Super Villians. Of course your puny little Hero would be no match against two equally powerful foes, and this is where the RPG element comes in. Killing enemies earns you XP which you can assign to your Heroes unique skills. Basically, Spidey gets a further shot and damage from his web shots (not porn), Daredevil gets more distance and damage from his baton… Wait a minute those aren’t that unique. Combat is a mixture of these unique skills and punching. There is however a rather interesting way of clearing particularly powerful or numerous enemies. Fusion powers. The name says it all. Wolverine can hold Daredevil’s hand to cause damage. Lots of it. And any of the Heroes. Spiderman and Iron Man. Mr. Fantastic and Thor. Any of the 24 characters available, but in your squad can be combined. I personally enjoyed Spiderman and Daredevil teaming up. Spidey grabbed 10 enemies with his webs and Daredevil pounded their idiotic brains with his baton. Generic enemies of Super Heroes are not exactly geniuses. Instead, the game relies on enemy numbers and not finesse to keep you entertained. By doing so, the first of its (for me) big flaws appear. The camera angle. Why, oh why, does it feel so “fixed”? This flaw is further compounded by the fact that with all the hitting, squashing and general mayhem on screen the character you are controlling at the time gets lost. Not literally, but keeping your peepholes on him (or her) can be a little difficult.
Back to the RPG elements. Well, don’t expect anything overly deep. It’s an action based game with the RPG elements seemingly tacked on. It’s a game on rails that doesn’t really alter, except for the major choice you make. Interaction with NPCs exists, but it is shallow and while responses get an “aggressive”, “diplomatic” or “defensive” reward, it seemed pointless. To be honest, I just pressed on any response, as the voice acting and emotionless characters left me wanting to get back to the mayhem. And mayhem is always fun.
Bits I Loved
- Super Heroes.
- Having the chance to beat up fellow Super Heroes. Especially Mr. Fantastic.
- Fusion Powers.
Bits I Hated
- Colourful, but average graphics.
- A bit too shallow.
- Where’s my Batman…?
Here’s a game that you must play without hoping for a deep and rewarding experience. Adequate, but not earth shattering. Its major draw is the fact that you can play as (almost) every major Marvel Super Hero you grew up with. Its major flaw is that it isn’t Batman: AA. Sorry.
Link to site for more info, screen shots and videos: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 Official Site