Maniac Grade: B-
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Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
November 06, 2006
This review will not be one of those complete and ambitious that you might find on other places on the internet, this will basically be a rather simplistic review from an average player with no expertise whatsoever.
When I popped the burned DVD into my overly bulky xbox my hopes were high, I was thinking this game would be much like X-men: Legends 2, a game I thorougly enjoyed (more so than part one, which I liked as well). Before I actually had the game in my download queue I had held hopes of it even being as much of an improvement of X-men: Legends 2 as X-men: Legends 2 had been of its predecessor. Anyways, I began playing it.
At first, it was a bit confusing, I didn't seem to be getting any skill points when I leveled. I later found out that at the early stages of character level-up-ing you did not always get a point. But to make matters worse the stupid makers of the game decided that the average player was not smart enough to be able to distribute the points him-/herself, every character has skill point auto distribution on by default. I actually had to toggle that on every character in my roster. Sure, I can live with that, it's really not that big a deal, but then when you unlock a NEW character at level 20, you notice all points gained up to that level have been put into seemingly random skills. And that's annoying, but a good game is a good game, despite minor raisins in the chocolate.Powers/skills
The skills. Well, what can I say? The power arsenal of each super hero seem a bit weak, they are just too few of them and a small percentage are good enough to use. I was underwhelmed by the fact that each character barely had something to beat enemies with, except the standard "pop-up combo" that I never seem to get right when it matters anyways. It didn't feel like you could truly customize your characters, they felt predestined to use THAT single-target-attack, THAT multi-target-attack, THAT boost-power and finally THAT (1) extreme limit-break. And that's no fun. Sure, even if there were more choices, like in X-men: Legends 2, most people would probably use the strongest skills anyways, but at least give me a choice to be unique, even if that means doing random jump attacks that send my character over the edges of cliffs while under the influence of AI.
You can customize your characters in more ways than just the skills, however. You can unlock costumes each of which have the ability to boost your claw-damage/xp/lightning damage/defense/etc. There are 4 costumes for each character, the first three you unlock by killing XX amount of enemies (*yawn*) and the last one you get as soon as you have completed a training mission (Danger room). To improve the costume stats you pay cash. Boring.Team
After a few missions you can make a team of your favorite characters (at this point, you have barely figured out the characters you decided to start out with). And this team earns experience points and levels up which gets you "team points" which you can use to get the members of the team bonuses like +%5 health, the team upgrades are basically the same as those of the costumes, imaginatively enough.Gear
You can equip your characters with one (1) piece of gear, that is it. This gear only drops from boss fights. Excited? Aren't we all.AI
The AI, btw, does not impress me either. It feels like the three characters I don't directly control just wander around, hitting stuff and leisurely using multi-target skills on single nearly-dead enemies. The "Ommpfh!" the X:L 2 AI had is simply not there, and it's not like I can control what powers they're going to use either, no such menu.Characters
The makers of the game could pick any characters they wanted from the Marvel Universe, and I guess they made pretty good choices. So why does my "yay." feel so uninspired? I'll tell you why, hardly any of them are fun to play. Thor has a big hammer, that he can use to hit people, and he can fly, and he can create a whirlwind. It just feels so basic, a bare-boned character that basically just hits things, and he is not alone either, at least half of the roster is precisely the same. I actually enjoyed played two characters: Captain America and Spider-man. Now, I am no fan of the clown dressed in a flag, but bouncing that shield around gave me some enjoyment, and I could actually steer the path of the shield! This made me miss, though, so I pretty much aimed and let it bounce around on its own. Spider-man could web-sling around instead of flying, but that got old fast as the game, as far as I've played it, doesn't really require you to stray off the safety of the ground. I later tired of Spider-man as his skills were pretty worthless, and this I found out after having spent every power-up I had found up to that point on him ( :-(! ).
Speaking of characters, the game seems to be swarming with villains known from the comic books, before I have made it past the learning phase of the game I have met maybe 10 super-powered villains that didn't leave a lasting impression at all, at least they dropped gear, though.
A thing that was fun in X:L2 was the fact that the heroes could interact with their environment, using powers to weld, leech energy, etc, but in this game you can only do two things: move barrels and push/pull "big things". The barrel moving is pretty much what you'd expect, you can lift and throw them at enemies, or your whirlwinds/spider-webs can pick them up and, (guess what?) smash them into enemies. The "big things" can be monolithic stones or big engine parts that you have to move from one spot to another for something to happen, nothing exciting in other words, feels like an old Zelda puzzle, in fact. Individual powers does not seem to matter at all when interacting with the environment.Story
Did I mention that the bad guys call themselves "MASTERS OF EVIL"? Well, this is a good time as any. They are evil, and they are led by the sinister Doctor Doom who plans to take over the universe or some such, and YOU, noble hero, must stop him, because Nick Fury said so. The game will take your team of hero to every part of the Marvel Universe that you secretly wish they had never thought of, places like Atlantis, Mephisto's realm, and Asgard. And when you are in the realm of the devil, you will actually stop for a while and wonder if they actually stole those background moans and screams from Diablo(tm).
The dialogue is laughable at best. Think of every line you heard TV cartoon villains speak before they burst out in maniacal laughter and you come close to what you are subjected to in this game. And besides that, we have Thor, on the hero-side of the equation to even things out ("How dare you attack the son of Odin!"). Not the work of Shakespeare, that's for sure.And so...
All in all, this game left me pretty %$#@ disappointed. Just imagine what I had felt if I had bought this. Then I guess I would have felt obligated to play through all of the game, which I won't now. But it was somewhat entertaining in the beginning, but when the remnants of hope had shriveled to crusts I put the controller down.Final Score: 7/10 Click here to read the staff review by Mania.