by Matthew Bishop
reviewed on X360
No matter who you are – Goth, jock, or nerd - Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 will provide a fun and refreshing experience for you. The game's premise: make a team of four Marvel superheroes or villains and play through a simplistic storyline while beating a variety of bosses and hordes of enemy units. What's not to like?
The game is played from an isometric, top-down view that allows up to four players to be present on the screen at any given time, without the need to split the screen. You play with a small team consisting of up to four characters. Switching between them is done simply by clicking a directional button on the D-Pad. If you would like to use the powers of a character who is not in your team, you can pause the game and swap a character from your team with one on the overall roster.
The player has every heroic and villainous move available that one can think of, including punches, kicks, grabs and throws. Many characters have special Power Moves that may not be completely unique, but rare enough to remain fresh throughout the game. Power Moves are incredibly… well… powerful of course, and their use is capped by a stamina meter that quickly fills up after a move has been performed.
Ultimate Alliance 2's major selling point are the over 200 so called 'Fusion Attacks'. A Fusion Attack is quite literally a melding of the unique powers of two heroes. They usually do an extraordinary amount of damage, paired with some great fireworks. Technically, there should be enough variety to last you a lifetime, were it not that many of the Fusion Attacks are incredibly similar and just reenacted by different characters. For instance, fusing Thing and Wolverine's powers will deliver an attack that is virtually identical to Juggernaut and Wolverine's fusion attack.
New coat of paint
The graphics have improved considerably over the first Ultimate Alliance, but this isn't necessarily a spectacular achievement as the last game was developed for the previous generation of consoles. The artwork in the menu screens deserves special mention for its creativeness. Characters almost feel as though they are popping out of your screen. More importantly, navigating through the menus is very intuitive, making it easy even for novice players to get through to the game.
The action itself is visually appealing. I couldn't suppress a few "oohs" and "aahs" when I just started playing and noticed similar responses from the people around me. The fusion attacks have a stylistic edge and fans of Marvel's humorous style will not be disappointed.
The musical score is varied and fits perfectly with the game. New tunes are played whenever you enter a different area and whenever you enable "Fusion Mode", a nice "power-up" beat is played to celebrate the fact. The voice acting is acceptable, though during some of the cut-scenes you are wondering how on Earth the producers could think that a particular character sounded that way.
Multiple endings which greatly enhances the game's replay value.
The Hack-and-Slash gameplay gets repetitive after a while.