Summary: JCal sits down with the developers of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and gives us 36 action-packed screenshots of your favorite superheroes (and villains). Check it out in today's interview!
After two highly successful games in the action-RPG series X-Men Legends, developer Raven Software and publisher Activision are opening up their Marvel Comic themed games to the entire super hero universe with the upcoming action game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Activision producer Matthew Paul about the game which is due out this fall on pretty much every game platform.
FiringSquad: First, why did Raven want to make a game based on other Marvel heroes, rather than go the easy route with a new X-Men
Matthew Paul: X-Men Legends is a great franchise, but we wanted to do something fresh…hence Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Taking on the entire Marvel universe opened up a bunch of possibilities that we hadn’t been able to do with previous games. There’s just something so cool about teaming up your favorite Super Heroes from all the different Marvel comics and setting off to fight evil. Plus, just because we’ve created Marvel: Ultimate Alliance doesn’t mean that there’s not a chance to revisit the X-Men Legends franchise some day.
FiringSquad: How hard was it to create a storyline that used the more expansive Marvel universe?
Matthew Paul: It was incredibly difficult to create the story for Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. The hardest part of creating the story was knowing when to say “no” to something we really wanted to do, but knew didn’t fit properly into the story structure. There is so much material that we had to only pick and choose the best stories, and even then we had more than 40 hours worth of material. What’s even more insane is that throughout the game’s story there are points where the decisions you make affect the whole Marvel universe, so working those into the game and then showing you how those decisions play out in the end was also a really grueling process. Luckily we had Marvel writer C.B Cebulski help us write the story and make sure everything stays true to the Marvel universe. The resulting storyline definitely packs a few great surprises.
FiringSquad: What are some of the team's favorite characters to play in the game?
Matthew Paul: My personal favorite character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is Ghost Rider because of his awesome chain attacks, although I know everyone else on the team has their own favorite. Dr. Strange seems to be another hometown favorite over here. Then there’s Human Torch who just looks so sweet on the next-gen systems with all the effects we did. With over 20 playable characters, we have a few disputes in the office as to who is the best Super Hero though. Plus there’s also the fact that there’s more to it than just the individual characters; it’s also the teams that you put together.
FiringSquad: What are some of the game's missions like in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?
Matthew Paul: There are a ton of different types of missions in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, ranging from saving Prince Namor in the underwater city of Atlantis, to destroying a big missile before it destroys a major city. We also have Comic Book Missions for most of the playable Super Heroes in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, where once you find/unlock one, allows the player to pause the game and step outside the current story mission and play a Super Hero specific mission. These are cool because these Comic Book Missions are based on notorious battles straight out of the comics that hardcore comic fans will totally appreciate and your not so hard core gamers will like just because they get to learn a little bit of history about the characters they are playing with.
Plus, when you’re playing them in MP, the main player gets to play whoever the Super Hero is for that specific mission, but the other players get to take over the bad guys, so they can either help out by not fighting, or they can totally try and stop the player from completing the Comic Book Mission. Also, if you unlock a Comic Book Mission, you can either play it right then and there, or you can wait, continue playing through the main story and access the Comic Book Mission at a later time. And finally, many of the missions in are also optional or can be taken at any time and will scale to the player’s level.
FiringSquad: The game will have some extra ways to alter the single player storyline. Can you talk about those features?
Matthew Paul: Well, like I mentioned before, there are many key decision points found throughout Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. These decisions will affect the fate of the Marvel universe, so once the player reaches the very end of the game (i.e. – after the final boss battle) the player will learn about how their actions affected the Marvel universe via our epilogue cut scene system. It’s pretty cool because there are so many different choices that have to be made, thus, there are a lot of different epilogue cut scene scenarios.
FiringSquad: Will the game be more action-oriented than the previous X-Men Legends games?
Matthew Paul: Well, again, working off of what I mentioned previously, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance isn’t just the next X-Men Legends game. Obviously Marvel: Ultimate Alliance does borrow a lot of the gameplay mechanics from the previous games, but this time around we’ve got a completely new story, new characters, and we’ve focused a lot more on the combat and action. We’ve got this awesome new combat system with all sorts of new additions like grappling, blocking, dodging, fighting while airborne, using objects in the environment as weapons, stealing weapons from enemies…you name it.
Plus, the Super Heroes have a huge variety of ways to dispatch enemies with combos and crazy super powers. However, all the expected RPG elements are intact too, so if you’re more of an RPG gamer you won’t be disappointed, as there is a lot of depth to that system and the better you are at managing your team, the more powerful they will become.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the game's multiplayer features?
Matthew Paul: Multiplayer in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is very unique. You can play from beginning to end with four people through the entire story. You can save in the middle of the game and then pick it up again with your friends. In addition, we have a new arcade style competitive mode where you play with your friends through the story, but this way you are ranked against your friends while you play. So the player that does the most damage, beats the most enemies, and gets the most loot is the player that gets the bonuses in the game. It’s pretty fun because when we play that way here in the office we all get really competitive and there’s usually a point where
somebody slaps the controller out of another’s hands to keep them from doing as well as the rest.
FiringSquad: What other gameplay elements in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance do you think are important?
Matthew Paul: Jeez, I don’t know where to start. I could start with creating your own team, where you pick the characters, name the team, and then play the game and build up a reputation for them and gain bonuses. But then again, all the Super Powers are so mind blowing that I’m not sure talking about them does them enough justice. You really have to see Ghost Rider’s chain moves to get it, or Spider-Man’s web-attacks, or…well, I could go on and on. We also have a ton of cool Marvel locales to experience like the Shield Helicarrier, the underwater city of Atlantis, the Skrull homeworld, great in-game music, unique features for some of the different platforms; it’s a really big game.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the graphical features of the game and how the game will look on the various platforms?
Matthew Paul: No matter what platform you have, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance looks incredibly good. Obviously the next-gen PS3 and Xbox 360 versions look spectacular, what with real-time dynamic lighting, normal and specular maps, enhanced particle effects, real time shadows, distortion shaders, desaturation shaders and HDRL. But, let’s not discount the current-gen and handheld platforms. The PS2 version is one of the best looking PS2 games I have ever seen, and you can’t go wrong with the PSP.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for demos for the PS3, Xbox 360 and/or PC versions and if so what will they contain?
Matthew Paul: At the moment, there aren’t any plans for a Marvel: Ultimate Alliance demo before the game ships. The team is very hard at work making the best game possible and we don’t want to divert them from that.
FiringSquad: Will there be any additional content for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game after it is released?
Matthew Paul: We’re definitely evaluating downloadable content. If there ever was a game that could support new content, it would be Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?
Matthew Paul: I can’t wait to get the final game into your hands so that you get to play it instead of listening to me preach about it. Hearing about it is one thing, but actually playing it gives you so much more.
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