Review by Teksuo
"Ultimate Destruction is the Ultimate Superhero Game"
Comic book games have a long history of flat out sucking ass. From the horrid Superman games from the Atari 3600 to the N64, to the craptacular suckfest known as Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis, comic book games have gotten a raw deal over the years. Recently however, the games have gotten better, and reached new levels of quality with the release of games like the recent Spider-Man titles, X-Men Legends, and the current object of my scrutiny, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction for the Gamecube.
The Angry Jade Titan is back, and this time, he's really pissed off. If I could convince you that this is a platinum quality title with the mere uttering of the words "Buy This Game!" this review would have been over a paragraph ago. But, then that would be more of a plug than a review, so let's start simple.
The game revolves around Dr. Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, as he continues to search for a cure for his mutation. However, things go to hell, when General Ross and a guy named Emil Blonsky, who seems to have a special cold, dank, spot in his black little heart for the good Doctor, as he shows no attempt at hiding his prejudice and contempt for the Hulk or his puny alter-ego.
To make matters worse, the doc has other problems on his hands, as the hulk initially seems to want to break away from Banner's mind, not exactly good news. Overall, the story's decent, and serves as a good way to justify the wanton destruction and mayhem you're about to commit.
While you don't need to be a huge fan of the hulk to follow along, you'll have a better understanding and appreciation of things here and there if you at least take the time to familiarize yourself with the comic's history.
The moment you first boot this game up, it looks pretty average: a decent amount of detail in the buildings, a nice sense of scale between Hulk and your enemies, it's all nice and pretty, but nothing to write home about. That is until you get your big green avatar crashing and thrashing, and start destroying things left and right.
Everything from the fire, smoke and explosions effects, to the level of detail in the destruction animations looks like gold. Objects you can pick up with show full on damage modeling, while buildings and other structures will usually be covered in texture effects and burning animations (smoke, fire, etc.), until they fall. The Hulk and his enemies all have a multitude of animations, and the in-game physics can be something to behold.
Hit something right and you can send it flying the distance of a football field, or toss it into an enemy, and watch them get knocked back, and crash through several cars before slamming to a stop. However, I feel the need to point out that while in some areas of the game, like the Bad Lands, you can destroy most smaller buildings, in the city, you can only bring down certain ones, which is a little disappointing, especially since early footage made it appear that you could conceivably level the entire city.
Ambient animations are to be appreciated as well; start terrorizing the city and the citizens will run and flee in helpless fear as you lift a car over your head and toss it in front of them. Run up to a cop shooting at you, and he'll back way, before turning around and running full steam, as cars driving around will turn sharply and slam into buildings (and other vehicles) when they try to avoid you, or simply screech to a stop, and back way as fast as possible.
The frame rate never really takes a serious hit, and stays pretty consistent for the most part. However, when the action heats up and you've got a lot going on, you may notice a slight drop. Also, when using super attacks, there's sometimes a slight pause just before the biggest part of the animation starts. Whether this is intentional for cinematic reasons, or a glitch, I'm not sure. Load times in the game are decent and rarely take more than 8 to 10 seconds. For you video-fanatics out there, while the game doesn't run in progressive scan, it does however, support wide screen.
The camera is great for the most part, though it can be problematic when you've destroyed a building or two and have ton of enemies on you, as the pretty smoke and debris effects start to get in the way. However, this is quickly remedied by quickly turning tail and running to the nearest area that has yet to be touch by your hand of destruction.
On the audio end of things, this is an amazing game. Every hit, every crash, every crunch has a thick, rich and full sound to it. The ambient noise in the game is great; sirens and truck horns wail in the distance, as car horns occasionally honk, a noise that quickly and drastically increasing after you've made your way down to the street, which is usually accompanied by voice clips of people screaming for help, yelling pleas not to be hurt, and cries to God as you plant your size 27 feet on to the cement after free falling from several stories up.
The voice acting in the game is top notch, with Neil McDonough, who voiced Banner during the animated series, reprising his role, and Ron "Hellboy" Pearlman playing Blonsky, providing voice work for our Protagonist and Antagonist, who both give stellar performances that rivals anything you heard in games in the past. The music in the game all mostly ochestral, so fans of the Danny Elfman score from the movie should feel right at home here.
It's games like this that really make me wish I had surround sound in my room, as the game does support Dolby Digital Surround.
Okay, on to where it really counts: the game play. This is where the previously mentioned graphical touches really come out and help add to the experience. The game takes place in a free formed style similar to Spider-man 2, or GTA. It was choice that was well made as this grants you to freedom to go anywhere and do anything you damn well please.
As you play through the game, you smash cars, trucks, busses, mechs, and more in a virtual orgy of destruction, mayhem, and absolute chaotic urban carnage as you bash, smash, and thrash your way through game's out door environments, using anything you can get your big green mitts on as a weapon.
However, it's not like you'll always need to use a stripped down tree to beat the crap out of someone. You're the Hulk! You don't need no stinkin' weapons; you are the weapon! The Hulk might be big and bulky, but he's got more speed than a certain blue hedgehog, able to leap over buildings in less bounds than a certain overly powerful, cape wearing jackass, has more slick moves than Jackie Chan.
The controls feel smooth, tight, and responsive, allowing for quick, speedy combos, and recoveries, and some insane fights. However, things get a little weird win the Hulk is on foot and running, as he feels more like you're controlling a motorcycle. However, with a little work, it soon becomes second nature, and you'll hardly even notice.
As you progress through the game, tearing up things to and fro, you'll earn Smash Points for practically everything you do and/or find. You can use these points to buy new moves, abilities and upgrades. The game itself is broken into chapters, and as you complete chapters you unlock new moves to buy and add to your arsenal from Hell.
As you progress through the game, you get Super moves that can be used when you fill your "Critical Mass" meter. When you're health bar is full, any extra health items you pick up are dumped into a surplus called Critical Mass. By holding down any 2 of the 3 attack buttons you can charge one of your super moves (provided you've bought the move assigned to those buttons). These moves, when used, will usually clear the screen or at least do a great deal of damage. However, If you kill an enemy using these attacks, you won't get a health bonus for killing them, so use it wisely.
Enemies come in several flavors and verities. You have your small soldiers/officers who pack little more than a pistol or a machine gun or as much rocket launchers. You also tanks, which you can use to do your impression of the Olympic hammer toss to deal out some heavy damage.
By the end of the game; some of the boss class enemies you face, will return in the form of Threat Response Teams. That's right; after wrecking so much havoc on the city, you'll eventually be greeted to a mini-boss battle of sorts where you have to fend off several powerful enemies at once. While some may find these annoying as it can break up the flow of the mindless smashing of cars, its actually kind of a nice way to break up the pace a little.
Hell, they actually help you break up stuff after you've beaten them; take down a helicopter then use the remains to take down a building. Beat the crap out of a mech, then grab it before it explodes and use it as missile to take down his buddies.
While the missions in the game can boarder between fun and down right tedious, you'll rarely notice, as you'll be having too much fun fight and smashing things to care. Get tired of the endless violence of smashing things? Go play some golf! The game has many challenge missions scatter through out the city and badlands, some of which are based off sports such as bowling, football and golf. While some are frustrating, the sight of seeing Hulk whacking a giant golf ball, somehow make it all worth it.
This boss battles in this game are also extremely fun, although there may be times when you first see a boss where you may be incline to say "Oh, screw that!" as they will usually tower high above you. But, hey, you're the Hulk! Nothing you can't handle, right? Unlike the previous Hulk game which was based off the movie, You don't have to worry that cheap trick of beating a boss only to have his life bar magically refill. This time out bosses have this little pips above their life bar. When their health runs down, it reflils, and they loose a pip. Its sort of a varition on the Hulk's own Critcal Mass meter.
In terms of replay value, there's tons of it. Whether you want to use solely as a good stress reliever by going around town and smashing things with reckless abandon, or go around the areas looking for hidden comics books there's plenty to do. Unlike in some games where finding comic covers gives you just that, the cover, this game actually rewards you for finding stuff.
As you collect comics, you'll unlock more smash points, codes to unlock hidden features, art galleries, and behind the scenes footage of the game development process, which don't just feel like they were thrown in for the sake of taking up space on the disc. They're actually really interesting, and fun to look at. My only complaint is that you have to look at them one by one, without a Play All option to watch them back to back.
Though Multi-player would have been welcomed, this is the epitome of what a single player game should be: Fast, hard, furious, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. Any complaints I have are minor. Whether you like the Hulk, or have an unbridled hatred for him, this game belongs a place on the shelf of any gamer with a Gamecube, PS2, or XBox.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/31/05
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