Hands On With: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

By Eli Green
October 29, 2006 - 11:30

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance released for most systems this past week. It will still be releasing for Playstation 3 and Wii next month. Unfortunately, we haven't received a review copy yet, but thankfully, Activision was kind enough to invite me to Raven Software to check out the Xbox 360 version of the game. While I don't have a full review to give, I've got the info on how the game works, a little of the story and a bit of the pros and cons of the single player and multiplayer gameplay.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance groups together the largest number of villains and the largest number of heroes from the Marvel universe and pits them against each other for the first time ever in video game history. There are over 140 characters from the Marvel universe in the game. Battles are fought, victories won, and somebody dies.

Players will go up against simple minions and have to find their way through a number of puzzles to go up against more prominent super-villains like the Rhino. They will also have to go up against big bad guys, and when I say big, I mean big. Galactus comes to

mind. There are also quite a number of popular playable heroes to choose from, like Spider-man, Wolverine and the Fantastic Four. What is more interesting than the popular character choices, though, were some of the other characters. Characters like Moon Knight and Dead-Pool are a bit unexpected, but seeing them in action is fun to watch.

The game has a lot of environments that fans of the Marvel comics will recognize, and the story varies between parts taken from lore from the Marvel comics and brand new storylines. If you know a lot about the Marvel universe, don't expect the story or the characters in the game to sync up to what's going on in the comics, because the game's writers took bits and pieces from the lore itself and also wrote new things.

Sitting down with the game at Raven Software's studio, I got the chance to take a look at some of the finer points of the game, its control system and its overall look. The demo session started with the actual beginning of the game. I was stunned by how beautiful the cinematics, which were done by Blur , looked. Truly some of the best computer generated images I have ever seen, hands down. Getting into the game itself, the control style is simple, using controls which should seem familiar to anyone who has played an overhead camera style RPG. Using the super powers are no more difficult than using the different strength attacks, though they are limited by the amount of power the character has at the time and which moves you have available overall. The nice part about it is that you won't be limited to two or three moves because of a lack of buttons, since the super powers can be switched on the fly.

The game plays using teams of four characters at a time. Any time you're at a SHEILD marker, you can switch the characters you want to use. I didn't have a lot of time with the game, and with so little time to play as different characters it was difficult to gauge just how good of a job Raven did at bringing them to life. Captain America and Spider-man were done very well, but Wolverine, as seems to be the case with any game that he's in, seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. The hack and slash style that is commonly used for Wolverine in games is used again, though, admittedly, the team gave him a good number of moves, so using him didn't feel repetitive.

The experience I had playing the game ranged from good, during the normal times of running through the levels pounding enemies to dust, to bad, watching the stupidity of some of the computer controlled hero AI, to great, playing multiplayer with one of the guys from the Raven development team. In fact, the multiplayer is where the game really shines. There are two different modes to choose from in multiplayer – either arcade or co-op – both of which can be played for the entire game. We played the arcade mode, which I was told incidentally came about from the development team arguing over who did better in the levels they were playing. Arcade mode works on a points system, allowing players to know who got the better score at the end of each level. The competitive gameplay allows players to go against each other and have some serious fun.

Overall, the look of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was great. The controls were simple and the gameplay was smooth. The multiplayer is actually more fun than the single player, so I suggest playing the game with friends, especially since up to four players can play simultaneously. It's great to see so many characters from the Marvel universe in one game. We'll hopefully be getting our review copy soon, so we'll be able to bring you a full review.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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