Od Studios -- Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
||Marvel: Ultimate Alliance -- by sector24, 2007-03-07
Developer: Raven Software
ESRB Rating: Teen
Platform: 360, GBA, GC, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, WII, XBOX
Release Date: 10/24/2006
What is Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is the spiritual sequel to X-Men Legends, where you control a team of 4 super heroes and lay waste to innumerable nameless thugs, and dozens of super villains. Your adventure will take you to the far reaches of the planet and beyond in an attempt to stop Dr. Doom from unraveling existence. The game can support up to 4 players and features online play.
What does this game do well?
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance excels in offering the player a great deal of variety. There are over two dozen super heroes to choose from, and depending on what console you buy the game for, additional characters unique to that console. Each character can be customized by the player to use up to 8 unique skills, and choose from 4 different outfits (some of which have to be unlocked through the course of the game). When you defeat a super villain, he or she drops an item that your super heroes can wear, granting a wide variey of bonuses. There are also stat boosting items hidden throughout the game, so you can further customize 1 or 2 super heroes into super2 heroes. You can also create a super hero team, and give bonuses to any super hero that is a part of that team.
The game has a lot of hidden items and unlockable content, including stat boosting items, sketchbooks which unlock gallery art, and battle simulations. The battle simulations are particularly neat, as they teach you a little about the background of the super hero and then you undertake a one-man mission. Depending on how well you do, you can boost the stats of the character, gain a free skill point, and unlock a new costume. Some of the missions are exceptionally difficult, and are quite satisfying to beat. The missions also have multiplayer value, in which up to 3 other players can play as random thugs and try to stop the super hero from completing his mission. After your thug gets thrashed (and he will) you can control a new bad guy for a nearly endless supply of hero fodder.
What could this game have done better?
This game reminds me of Gauntlet, in the fact that it is much more fun with 4 human players. Sometimes it's nice to play alone because you can switch between any of the 4 characters and the computer will usually do a good job of not getting the other 3 killed, but it's just not the same experience as a full team of humans playing.
The amount of customization you can do on the hero and team level is great, but unfortunately the gameplay is not all that varied. There are multiple special moves you can do, like tripping, stunning or knocking down your opponent in addition to your hero skills, but it's a very homogenous experience. I think the game is as good as it can be, but at its heart it's still a button masher. Even so, it should still provide 10-20 hours of entertainment depending on your attention span.
Just a note, if you have a Wii, I'd steer clear of this game. The game does not allow you to use a conventional gamepad, and the Wii controller is awkward to use. The game is still fun, but you'll have a hard time executing moves with any precision. More than likely you'll end up being like the guy in Street Figher that just presses low kick over and over again until the other guy eventually keels over.
Should I buy this game?
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a great game with a surprisingly high amount of customizable and unlockable content. The gameplay won't last you forever, but the Marvel universe combined with 4 player support is sure to provide an enjoyable experience.
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