Review by Unknown50862
"A great game for those looking to embrace their inner geek."
Unlike most direct sequels, MUA2 does not follow the plot laid out in the first game. There are several subtle mentions to the previous storyline, but nothing beyond that. Instead, this game is based on the events chronicled in both the Secret War, and the resulting Civil War; two popular comic arcs in the Marvel Universe. However, towards the end, the plot branches off from the comic's storyline.
The game begins with you infiltrating Dr. Doom's old castle (Doom is supposedly dead), in an attempt to stop whoever is supplying supervillians with advanced weaponry. You later find out that this foreign operation was unsanctioned by the government, leading to political fallout. This combined with several tragedies involving superheroes, leads the US Government to pass the Superhero Registration Act. Under the SRA, all superhumans are required to register their identities with the government. This results in a split of the superhero community into two groups, Anti-Regs and Pro-Regs.
The Anti-Regs, led by Captain America, refuse to register and go underground as outlaws. The Pro-Regs, led by Iron Man, follow the act and become agents of SHIELD, a government agency established to deal with superhumans. Now under the command of the government, the Pro-Regs are then ordered to hunt down and capture their former comrades, either convincing them to register or imprisoning them. Obviously enough, conflicts arise, creating the unique chance to see what happens when superheroes turn against one another.
Following the ever-popular trend of modern games, the game lets you decide which side to join, whether to register or not. The only problem however, is that your choice is of little consequence. There are only a few unique characters on each side, and after a certain point the game is the same, no matter which side you choose.
Another issue is the poor hero roster. Although the game does have an impressive 24 playable characters (not including DLC), there are so many more that appear in the game, yet you aren't able to control them. Not to mention there is an absence of several prominent heroes that were active in the Civil War.
Besides these downfalls however, the story seems pretty solid. The game is separated into three acts (Secret War, Civil War, and Spoiler), which helps set the pace. Personally, I've always been a big nerd about superheroes, and although I haven't delved into comics much, I've always had my interests in the Marvel universe. This game is the perfect excuse for me to explore that interest without having to spend countless hours and money reading comics.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is a hack and slash, action game with subtle RPGs elements. It plays like a normal brawler, with several combos and abilities to break up the usual button mashing, and by earning XP your characters will slowly level up and get stronger. The leveling system is pretty basic, you get experience for beating enemies and when you level up, you can spend points on abilities and attributes. Also worth mentioning, is that your characters all level up together, so you don't have to worry about managing all 24 characters. Just stick with a team you enjoy, and switch someone out if the need arises.
Which leads me to a big aspect of the game, its customization. As already mentioned, you have 24 characters to choose from, and with four members on your team, the combinations are endless. Each character also has an extra costume you can unlock, but most of them are horrible, so I didn't bother using them. In addition to this, there are special attacks called Fusions, in which two characters will combine their powers, to devastate the enemy. Every pair has a different attack, which means there is a total of 276. Unfortunately though, there are only so many truly unique ones, as most of them are very similar, just with small deviations to represent the different powers.
Another thing to note is that this game loves its challenges and collectibles. So much so, that I was overwhelmed at first, with messages popping up left and right, without a clue as to what was going on. Once you get used to it however, it will all make sense, and with the various stat tracking menus, it will make finding everything fun instead of feeling like a chore. On that note, one of the collectibles I really enjoyed were the dossiers, which catalog each hero and villain with facts and background information. There are also trivia questions about the characters and comic lore. Don't worry if you are not familiar with the Marvel Universe though, every answer can be found somewhere in the game.
In addition to all this, there is also co-op (both local and online) that was supposed to be a big selling point. However, I hear that it is full of bugs and glitches, so you might want to wait for a patch to enjoy that aspect. From my brief experience with it, I didn't have too much trouble, but then again I wasn't playing online.
Honestly, I can't say that I paid much attention to the graphics. In my opinion, they aren't really that big of deal in a game like this. The camera is too far away from the environment and characters to notice small details and the like. They weren't horrid, that much I remember, but they weren't extraordinary either.
One thing worth mentioning though is that there wasn't any slowdown in the frame rate. Even when there were dozens of enemies on the screen, with powers exploding and pieces of the environment crumbling, I didn't notice any chopping or lag.
My first thought, was that this game was going to be pushing the 50 hour limit, a great accomplishment for this type of game. However, the more I played, the more I noticed that limit diminish.
Several playthroughs are required to complete the game, seeing as you need to beat the game as both Anti-Regs and Pro-Regs. However, by the time you beat the game once, you should have a solid team set up, and since you start the second playthrough with all characters unlocked there really isn't any need to experiment from that point on. The leveling system is also capped pretty easily, as my characters were already maxed out about halfway through the highest difficulty. I pretty much spent my final playthrough spamming one attack, only switching characters to use a certain fusion, if the situation required it.
Don't get me wrong, the game still has plenty to offer with all the collectibles, trivia, and such, but after my first playthrough it just seemed like grinding. Maybe a working co-op or a higher difficulty would help.
As usual, there are your pretty standard achievements; beat a certain mission and finish the game on such and such difficulty (they are stackable by the way). Also, as mentioned above, you will need to beat the game at least twice, in order to get both the Pro-Reg and Anti-Reg achievements.
As for the rest, they center around the various distractions the game contains. There are some achievements for co-op, trivia questions, simulator missions, and of course collectibles. The one thing that I found odd though, was the fact that you don't have to collect everything. The achievements give a bit of leeway, so you don't have to spend hours trying to find one last item.
A great game for those looking to embrace their inner geek. Worth a buy, but hardcore comic fans beware, it only remotely resembles its comic counterpart.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 10/12/09
Game Release: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (US, 09/15/09)
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