Summary: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance promises to bring X-Men Legends gameplay to the whole Marvel universe, and some key gameplay updates too. Read on to find out what they are.
As with X-Men, certain character combinations create teams with special attributes. The Fantastic Four, when played together, enjoy bonuses, as do all sorts of other teams. Some of these are informal, many have basis in the history of the Marvel universe. Discovering them all and finding the ones most beneficial to the playerís style is up to the individual Ė or the GameFAQs spoiler available three days after the game appears in stores.
The story is epic, pitting the player against the mighty Dr. Doom who apparently has plans that involve Galactus and the gods of Asgard. While the regular combat portions are just as hectic as they ever were in X-Men, the boss battles that pop up are more challenging and puzzle-oriented. The X-Men games often had the player needing to destroy or activate certain objects in sequence, but Marvel takes things a step further. Since the boss opponents are often colossal, like Galactus or Ymir, the king of the Frost Giants, you actually first have to get to them to fight them. In our battle against Ymir, we were fighting off his minions while trying to jump onto his arm as he swung his giant club down into the ground. Once on his arm, a combination of maneuvers was necessary to attack him. Since we were playing on the PS3, the actions necessary to make progress against Ymir were actually done using the PS3 controllerís motion-sensing. Indicators would flash on the screen directing us to tilt the controller one way or another. Success would mean progress along Ymirís giant body, failure would knock us off to endure more blows on the ground.
Choices are made along the road, too. Without spoiling anything, players will have to make decisions that not only affect the game world, but also their own party permanently. Certain missions can apparently be taken up or passed over.
The PS3 version offers the use for its tilt controllers of course, but also has 1080p support through HDMI. The Wii control scheme will doubtless take some getting used to and may never be quite as intuitive for this style of game as a gamepad, but we were able to be effective in a group of four players co-operating through one of the more bizarre levels of the game. The Wii graphics obviously donít compare to the truly next-gen capabilities of the Xbox 360 and PS3, but are definitely serviceable.
New to the franchise is a competition mode for multiplayer. Each player selects one character and is generally stuck with him. You continue through the campaign as normal otherwise, but are rated in various categories that judge your effectiveness.
Super power attacks no longer require the player to collect X tokens. Rather, he builds ďmomentumĒ with his characters, in essence charging a bar by doing better. When itís full, he can activate a super power attack. This is considerably less clumsy than X-Men: Legendsí method.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance should be available in time for Christmas. All screenshots in this article are from the Xbox 360 version of the game.
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