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| Review: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PC) (3 comments )|
by: kevinSpiess (156) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Ever wanted to be a super-hero? Thought it might be fun? Maybe blow up some hi-tec stuff? Travel to extra-dimensional vacation spots? Find that arch-nemesis you’ve always wanted, and do some plan-thwarting? Well, now’s your chance -- and you won’t have to bust out that spandex or mutant-ray serum you keep in your closet, thanks to Raven Software’s fun-filled new beat-em-up, action-RPG hybrid, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
|» MEDIA (10)|
\"Okay -- who left the portal running again?\"
\"Got it! Damn you have a lot of robo-lice!\"
The Superheroes discuss the latest about Britney Spears.
Don\'t get Thor angry.
Game features many ways to inflict severe pain on people.
\"Fine! One more mug of beer then we\'ll take off -- HAPPY?\"
Hey Dark-Spiderman -- lets dance!
Superheroes and superpets a\'plenty in this game.
Lot'a funny look dudes in this game.
What’s it all about?
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is the third offering in Raven Software’s line of multi-platform, Marvel licensed, superhero games. The first was X-Men Legends (released in 2004) which was followed by X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005). Basically, if you played either of the two previous games, you know pretty much what you are in for. Not to say that Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is only more of the same – it’s actually much, much more of the same, with more characters, more locations, and more villains. This latest offering is also further refined, streamlined, and more fun than the previous entries in the series – but, when you get right down to it, it is not a super-far departure from the previous two games in the series.
For you gamers out there might of passed by X-Men Legends, I’ll try to sum up what you have been missing.
Picture Diablo. Got it?
Think of a beat-em up type game. Maybe Gekido (Playstation) comes to mind?
Now, add to the mix all the moves, some of the combos, and many of the super-heroes maybe made most popular by recent crummy movies and Capcom arcade games, such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Shake all these games together, (maybe add some nice garnish), and you have Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
It’s all about Character… or … more Super-Heroes than you can shake a Super-Stick at
You’re going to be up against a legion of grunts, a bevy of death-inducing robots, fearsome traps, and an alliance of evil master super-villains, known as, the uh, (referring to notes here), oh yes: The Masters of Evil. This awesomely named group of villains is indeed, quite very much evil, and as they are led by the nefarious and infamous Prime Minister of Latveria -- Dr. Doom – and you’re going to need a lot of super-firepower from a lot of super-people to bring this bunch of evil-doers down.
Enjoyably, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance features more playable characters than either of the two previous entries in the series. There is a whopping 23 playable characters in the game, with an additional 2 that are unlockable with the application of a patch (see review post-script for details). Throughout the game, you will be controlling a group of up to four superheroes. You are able to swap heroes from your larger roster at ‘Extraction Points’ throughout the levels, but while battling baddies, you switch on-the-fly between one of your four superheroes in your current team, while the computer or your friends control the other three in your super-posse. Not all characters are available at the game’s beginning, but the majority are -- the rest, you have to either rescue or unlock through your travels, by collecting various semi-hidden tokens.
The strength of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance rest on its superhero’s shoulders. Personally, for someone who is not very familiar with comic book characters, it was a tremendous amount of fun to try them all out, and discover their fairly unique powers. Throughout the game, many ties to the Marvel Universe mythos are made, and although pretty cheesy at times, the creative depth of this fictional universe really shines through. Many of the characters affiliations and backgrounds are interesting to unravel throughout the game’s storyline and lengths of dialog; I could see a comic-book fan being in a state of Valhallain/Atlantaen/Dimension X bliss being able explore this greatly textured universe with their favorite super-heroes. On the flip side of the super-hero coin, however, some super-heroes are more super than others. I wasn’t very much excited by the prospect of some of the B-Side superheroes, such as Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, or Daredevil -- but, the odds are you'll find a couple that you like.
Developing your superheroes throughout the game is one of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance’s biggest strengths. To add ever more customization to the game’s mix, each hero can also equip a stat-boosting object (which are collected from chests and bosses), and each hero also has four different suits that you can unlock and change.
What’s It All About Part II: Rise of the Button-Mashing
So, you’ve watched the opening, excellent initial cut-scene. You just finished plowing through the first tutorial level of the game, learning the somewhat unwieldy controls. And now you selected four heroes to begin your quest with, so what happens next?
Well, the basic formula of the game is this: You will begin each of the games five Acts in a Diablo-esqe ‘hub’ – this is where you talk to your super-allies, arrange your team, and the mission ahead is laid out for you. There isn’t much exploration or puzzle solving in the game – you pretty much go from battle scene to battle scene, teleporting directly from the ‘hub’ to the battles and back again.
Throughout the games five Acts, you will go to a vastly different locations and dimensions, including a level that takes places underwater. Many backstory-worthy places out of the Marvel universe are featured, such as Mephisto’s realm (think: hell), and Asgard, the Realm of the Gods. The scenery throughout the game is nicely varied; there is definitely a different feel to the game from Act to Act. Populating these levels are endless minions just begging to be served some super-justice, and they too, are varied: some fly, some shoot at you, some come up to you and try to chainsaw you, etcetera. Throughout your adventures, you will be vanquishing many, many hordes of creatures. The variation of scenery and villains helps break up the monotony that sometimes sets in while defeating yet another roomful of dastardly evil bastards who are trying to kill you -- but after many hours of playing this game, many people may find this formula gets a bit stale.
After defeating legions of minions, your superheroes will go up against some of the famous, and not-so-famous, villains of the Marvel Universe, such as Galactus, and Shocker. Many of the bosses you will fight are of mammoth proportions. Many of them, also, will not only be defeated through the use of regular attacks, but with different boss- specific attacks. For example, you might have to climb onto the back of a giant boss, and then game will prompt you to hit different button combinations, and if you can hit’em fast enough, you’ll end up damaging the boss villain. The variations in the methods of taking down some of the stranger and larger of the villains is an improvement over most of the boss fights from in the X-Men Legends game, which were simply endeavors in getting in striking range, then button-mashing till your fingers bled.
It’s a team effort
Early on, the game gives you the option of creating your own set superhero team of four characters for the rest of the game. If you create your own superhero team the game rewards you with added bonuses in the way of expendable ‘Reputation Points’ – but, if you set a team you are penalized if you mix up your roster. If do not decide to create a team, although you miss out on some bonus points, you can switch around your characters without penalty.
As a team, you are pretty much free to play in any style you like. If you want to go through the game with four big and powerful bruisers, you can; if you prefer a balanced team that has a superhero suited for every variety of fight you’ll be up against, you can do this too. Additionally, many combinations of superheroes will add a bonus for your entire team. For example, if you choose all of the Fantastic Four as your team, you will gain 20 Health points for every baddie you take out.
Some characters play fairly similar to one another, such as Iceman and Torch for instance, but generally, there is enough difference between their powers and attacks to keep things interesting. Although some superhero attacks seem overpowered (such as Dr.Strange’s insta-kill Black-Magic-turn-you-into-a-box spell), while some seem underpowered (Deadlock’s grenade attack isn’t all that explosive), complete balance between superheroes' powers may have made the game less interesting -- I mean, does anyone really think Invisible Woman could beat Wolverine in a fight?
(I don’t. Wolverine kicks ass.)
Iron Man should be at least level 17 before he takes on that Frost Giant
You can unleash your super-vengeance on the various menaces in the game with an awesome assortment of super-powers. Each hero has between 5-8 unique special powers in addition to regular attacks, such as punching or throwing crates and barrels. Each hero generally has a couple of projectile attacks (such as Iron Man’s Unibeam) or heavy-hitting melee attacks (such as Thor’s Hammer Smash), but there are also more unique abilities such as debuff powers and team boosting powers (like Dr.Strange’s group heal power, for instance). And finally, each hero also has a ‘Xtreme’ attack, which can only used sparingly, but causes big-time super-duper-devastation.
Unleashing four of your ‘Xtreme’ attacks concurrently leads directly to massive devastation and graphical gratification – the visual renditions of your superpowers is done quite well.
To PC, or not to PC?
That is the question -- Marvel: Ultimate Alliance definitely has a strong console-game feel to it. Developed simultaneously for Wiki, Xbox, X360, Playstation 2 and 3, PSP, and GBA could be seen as both a positive and a negative, for this PC gamer.
On the positive side, the game engine performs quite admirably on non-cutting edge hardware. You will not need an 8800 GTX and 2 gigs of ram to bust the 50 frames-per-second barrier for this game. With scaleable resolutions from 640x480 to 1280x1024, and limited additional graphics options, including Anti-Aliasing support, you should have no problem with both this game looking great and running smoothly. The code is nicely optimized, and I have to give props to Raven Software for releasing such a smoothly running product.
On the negative side, if you do not have a proper gaming controller, the keyboard controls may be a little burdensome. With up to 10 powers for each character, it becomes a little bit annoying when you stab at your keyboard for Fiendish Chains, but mistakenly unleash your Penance Stare (trust me on this one). Early on, I abandoned playing with the mouse and keyboard, and reassigned my keypad numbers to each attack – this made controlling my heroes a little easier. But, trying to juggle 10 powers in addition to your regular attack buttons and other features, such as controlling your allies and automap, is aerobics for your fingers -- you might just want to go out and buy a proper controller for this one.
Super-difficult, or super-easy?
Well, it’s your choice.
The number of options Marvel: Ultimate Alliance in tailoring their gaming experience allows for either a very difficult game, or a very easy game.
To explain further: it is not very hard to just use the uber of the uber powers of the superest of your super-heroes to power-plow through this game, like Rhino in a porcelain dish factory.
But in addition to a ‘hard’ level being unlocked after completing the game (complete with more characters and challenges), you also have the option of using some of the weaker super-heroes to take on Marvel universe, or even using a team of only 2 or 3 superheroes. Taking on the onslaught of evilness in the game with only one solitary hero is a challenging, but viable, option.
For replayability, the option of completing the game a second time around on increased difficulty is bonus; but on the negative side, things might get a tad too repetitive on the second (or more) time around.
Now time to pass judgment on this game with my own, personally designed, semi-scientific, somewhat biased, Score Board.
A score out of 100 is attained by tallying from the following categories:
A score is given for the fundamental design of the game; the fun-ness factor.
Could have used a bit more elaborate puzzles; or perhaps, more branching storyline options might have added great deal to the game. Also a bit tedious at times – but overall, a very fun game to spend hours on; developing your characters is a lot of fun.
User Interface: +3.5/5
How are the controls? The menus logical? Streamlined interface?
The original keymaps are very unwieldy to orchestrate with a keyboard. A game definitely designed to be played on a controller.
System Requirements: +4/5
Does the game need a bleeding edge machine to run? Does it require a powerhouse machine to run, but for no discernable reason?
This game runs well on mid-range systems.
Does the product feel complete? Many bugs? Need a patch to even play it?
The game feels thoroughly bug-tested, and ran without a single hitch.
How long will you want to keep this one on your hard drive?
Game may get tedious in the long haul, but with a great deal of unlockable content, you may be hooked for sometime.
Two dimensional characters? An interesting storyline?
Both the cheese and depth of the Marvel Universe are fully realized here. Pretty good story – kept me intrigued.
A safe, tired and true formula – or was there some envelope pushing going on?
Not far removed from its earlier incarnations in the series, but still a very good mix of multiple game genres.
Can you bring the fight to the Internet?
Has the option for online play -- but Marvel: Ultimate Alliance may be better suited for playing a direct connection game or on a LAN with friends. Game does not seem suited to a drop-in and play-for-an-hour gaming experience, like an RTS or FPS is. This reviewer could not find many open games to join.
Wonderful cut scenes, strong and varied in-game graphics – but not awe-inspiring, nor what I would consider ‘next-gen’, by a long-shot. But, camera issues were minimal. Good visual effects are utilized for your heroes’ superpowers. Good looking, varied levels.
Some voice acting could have been stronger. The music was good but not outstanding. Many of the superheroesque in-game one-liners are pretty amusing for awhile. For example, one of the many that brought a smile to my face was from the superhero Deadlock: “I’m low in power – but rich in vitamin C!”
Overall Impression: +16.5/20
I thought this game was fantastic up until about the 15 hour mark, where it became tedious to take down another gaggle of minions – the only thing that kept me going was the desire to make superheroes just a little bit more super.
Final Score And Final Say
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a competently designed, well realized, entertaining beat’em-up adventure – but the game did not feature enough variation in play to truly bring it up to superhero-game status.
Final Verdict: 81.5 / 100
-There is a patch available which will bring heroes Colossus and Moon Knight to your team: Google “colossusMK.rar”
-This game was reviewed on an Asus P4PE w/a P4 3GHz HT processor, 512 Mb ram, and an X800 XT AGP
|8 User Comment(s) • 6 root comment(s)|
| TheHeartless (3) Feb 23, 2007 - 12:58 am|
|Well worded overall, but far too long for a review in my eyes...you should try a walkthrough. Try keeping it brief enough that if you are going to give it reputable final score that I still want to go out and play the game. I feel that I no longer need to play Marvel: UI.|
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