Review by Bravefan

"Lots of super heroes, but can they save this game?"

Almost everyone loves super heroes. They epitomize some of our deepest desires. Even though it may seem absurd to us now, how many of you at one point or another wished that you could fly, or run at super speed, or teleport anywhere you wanted to? I know I'm one of those people who did. Well, you still can't fly or teleport, but you can control characters who can. But does controlling these characters really make the game worth buying?

Gameplay: 8 - The game features a solid combat system almost identical to that of X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends 2. However, a few nice features have been added in. Along with energy regeneration, destroying parts of the environment and defeating enemies release energy and health orbs that readily refill your health and allow you to keep using your powers. Similar to X-Men Legends, there is also the four character team in which all you need to do is press the D-pad in the corresponding direction of the character on screen to take control of them. And that, of course, brings up the characters, themselves. There are 20 playable characters in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Some need to be unlocked, but most are there from the start. As with any action RPG, in order to make your characters better, you need to level them up by defeating enemies. And this is where the game's first drawback becomes evident. As with most games of this type, there is a feature to auto-equip gear and auto-spend attribute points. However, unlike most games of its kind, these features are automatically set on from the very beginning. In order to turn them off, you must select every, single character, one by one, and turn off both features if you don't want them on; an incredibly annoying, cumbersome task to have to do just to play the game if you want control everything. Despite that annoying problem, there are many, many powers at your disposal, and with 20 different characters to use and figure out how best to control, the gameplay is very satisfying.

Graphics: 7 - This is going to knock the score down a bit. The best way to put it is that the graphics are mediocre. They just aren't good. The characters are well designed, but I find myself many times staring at the screen and seeing blurry characters in blurry, unoriginal environments. Also, as incredible as it may seem for a game on the Playstation 2 this late in its life, there is annoying slow down and frame-rate issues when there are many enemies on screen. The graphics aren't terrible, but they aren't nearly what they should be either. As I stated, though, the characters are well designed and are nice to look at when seen up close. Also, the animations when using super-powers are also very cool. Still, the frame-rate issues definitely hurt the game graphically.

Sound: 6 - More problems here. The sound just isn't good at all. For the most part, it sounds as though all sound coming out of the TV is muffled. And before anyone says my TV is set up incorrectly, I have the same sound settings on as I do for all games, with which I've never had problems like this. The music is ok at best and there are times when the voice acting just stops for one line on screen, and then picks up again at the next line.

Controls: 9 - This is something done to near perfection by the developers. The controls are very basic, but very satisfying. To call up the super-power menu, hold in R2 and press either X, Square, Triangle, or Circle to correspond with the power on screen to activate it. Melee attacks are simple to use as are jump attacks, etc. Also, blocking and dodging are done with the L1 button. Tap it quickly while moving the analog stick to dodge and hold it in to block. Very simple, basic controls, but isn't that how all games should be?

Replay Value: 8 - With several characters to unlock, as well as dozens of combinations of teams to create, the replay value of the game is high. While it is the same story, the ability to explore each and every character's powers is a boat-load of fun.

Buy or Rent: If you want a solid, action RPG, or if you just love super heroes, then this game is for you. If you're not sure, rent it and see if you like it.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/16/07

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