Review by The Manx
"Evil doers beware"
I'll say this right now: I'll try not to compare this game to Justice League Heroes too often. If you're any kind of admirer of superheroes and their world-saving antics, you'll probably agree that one of the coolest things about them is when they team up with each other. Because of the legal fees of getting together a really all-star alliance, the wait for a game that managed to take advantage of this little factotum has been a long one, and usually kept them from hiring the talent necessary to do something good with the characters. I'm happy to say that the wait is over, and all of us basement-dwelling hero fans have finally got something to be proud to play.
Dr. Doom has got together a bunch of bad guys to take over the world. It'd take a veritable army of superheroes to stop them. Luckily, that's exactly what some secret agent bigshot named Nick Fury has been empowered to do. You're responsible for putting together a formidable team and leading them to victory against Doom's cronies in a variety of unusual locations. I don't sit down and go "whoa" with a story like that, but you get the sense you're up against a master manipulator from playing the game, like you should.
Good, but not quite what I was expecting. Characters are, for the most part, recognizable if you know them from the comics, and even if you don't know who he is you'll probably go "Whoa!" when you encounter Galactus.
Most everything works in the sound department, but nothing is that amazing. I've got nothing against Cam Clarke, but the guy can't really suggest to me the Viking god of thunder. Steve Blum still doesn't sound right as Wolverine even with this being the third time he's voiced the character.
As usual, this is what a game with a lot of potential lives or dies by. Fortunately, even as a non-diehard strategy gamer I found this game playable and immersive. You play a squad of four superheroes at a time--technically you can have less, but trust me, you want to fill every slot all the time. You can switch who you control on the fly with the directional pad, and powers are easily accessed with the R2 button and symbol buttons. There's even a system to change power slots on the fly, but that was a little too hardcore for a non-diehard strategy gamer like me.
As you'd suspect in a game with a name like "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance," you can pick your team from a wide assortment of heroes from Marvel's stable, some accessible the first time you get to a save point, others having to be earned way or another. And as you'd also expect, each one brings something different to the table, and you may soon find that someone you want to control just because they're a favorite character doesn't necessarily fit in with your combat style.
Responsiveness is solid and for the most part characters either have or get the powers you'd expect them to have--like the Thing and Thor take damage a little better than the other characters--but sometimes the game does allow silly things, like a willowy babe like Storm hauling around several tons of lab equipment with her bare hands and you still receiving radio orders from Nick Fury even when you unlock him as a playable character. The experience was satisfying, and you can even make up your own team, name, roster and everything from the heroes available. Thumbs up.
The game covers a lot of the significant places and characters of Marvel's universe, and manages to portray most of it reasonably well and faithfully. The loudspeakers at Iron Man's offices were kind of nice, even though I only got the one about the Thing's birthday. The nicest thing in terms of flavor was how, after you beat the last boss, you get to hear how things you did during the game effect the future of the world. Not all of the flavor stuff is great, though. I understand that the developers only had so many slots they could give to playable characters and wanted to attract as many Marvel fans as possible, so I'm okay with a character like Blade, but Luke Cage?? Moon Knight (who thankfully isn't taking up space in the version I have)??? Who??? And no She-Hulk?!
The fun of the game is mixing and matching to find the ultimate team for your style, which is a lot more fun in this game than most of its kind wit with M:UA's quick pace and variety of obstacles and enemies and playable characters who are in fact all unique and not just sprayed with different pixels. Still, I would've preferred some optional missions in place of their simulation practice levels that let you unlock bonuses. Still, it's always nice when something is adapted into a video game and you can tell they paid attention when they did the research.
Overall-9/10 (not averaged)
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a solid game any comics fan owes it to himself to pick up. I nitpick, but I realize there's no way they had the resources and freedom to come up with a game that would've been perfect for every possible fan. When you start caving in robot heads with Thor's hammer, I'm sure most comic fans will stop their grumbling too.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/13/06
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