by Keaton Arksey
previewed on X360
In 2006, a story arc hit Marvel comics that changed the very foundation of the Universe. In an explosion, caused by the villain Nitro, in Stamford, Connecticut 900 people were killed. Afterwards an uprising in anti-superhero sentiment causes a split between the heroes themselves. On one side – led by Iron-Man – are those who believe that superheroes should have to register their true identities with the government and on the other those who oppose the Superhero Registration Act. This last group is led by Captain America.
The effects of the superhero “Civil War” were far reaching. Spider-Man revealed his true identity to the world, numerous heroes including Luke Cage were killed, and perhaps most importantly, after Captain America surrendered himself he was assassinated. The effects of the arc are still being felt today, more than three years after it finished. So why not base a game on it?
The original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was an action RPG where players could select four characters from a variety of Marvel heroes, going through areas breaking boxes and beating up bad guys. To this day it remains one of the best superhero games released, so the sequel will have some pretty large shoes to fill. Luckily Vicarious Visions, the developers who ported the original game to the Wii will be behind the sequel. Things won’t be radically different from before, as you will be doing a lot of running down corridors and (occasionally) hitting a switch.
Along with the Civil War storyline, the game also covers the Secret War story arc where Nick Fury, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D (an espionage and law-enforcement agency) has gone missing in Latvia, home of Fantastic 4 villain Doctor Doom. Along with Latvia, a confirmed location in the game includes Washington DC where a group of villains decides to take advantage of the confusion caused during the Civil War to attack the U.S. Government.
Ultimate Alliance 2 would be nothing if the characters weren’t easily recognizable. Most people will know the characters from the Marvel Universe, so picking four for your team isn’t a hard task. Classic characters like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Wolverine, and the entire Fantastic 4 will be selectable. There will also be some villains, like Green Goblin and Venom to choose. While in the comics the line that separated the two sides was clearly drawn, in the game players will be able to switch things up a bit. Think The Thing siding with the Pro-Registration heroes or the Hulk against the Registration Act? While you have to pick a side, you are able to select almost any character to go to any side. For story reasons, Captain America and Luke Cage will stick with opposing the Registration Act while Iron-Man and Mister Fantastic will be Pro-Registration.
During gameplay the player will be able to switch between their squad of four and make use of their own unique abilities. Beating up enemies earns experience which levels up your character, unlocking new attacks and abilities. Every character will have unique powers true to the comic. Spider-Man can shoot webs, Iron-Man can fire lasers from his hands and chest, Captain America can throw his shield, and Deadpool can fire guns. Not really a special power, but you don’t ask questions to the guy with the gun. The big selling point of Ultimate Alliance 2 is ‘fusion powers’, which allows you to combine your heroes powers for high damaging attacks. For example, Thor can create a lightning tornado and the Human Torch can light it on fire, creating a fire tornado of death, or Iron-Man can fire a laser into Wolverine’s claws which reflects the beam.
The game can be played by four players on the same screen, as well as over Xbox Live (PS3 and PC versions should also have online play, but the verdict is still out on other versions). So far there are over 15 playable characters confirmed, and the 24 total from the original game should be met. Future DLC is being planned to include more characters post release. There will also be multiple endings, depending on which actions the player takes over the course of the game. The game’s engine has also been improved, with the Havoc physics engine being incorporated and improved character models that feature proper lip-synching.
With new fusion powers, a large cast of characters, and a story based on one of the best comic series in the last few years, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 looks to be every comic fans dream when it is released this fall.