Marvel Ultimate Aliance
First was X-Men Legends then came X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse, and once again Raven Software is back with Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. What's the difference between Marvel: UA and X-Men L2? Nothing but characters and smoother game play all around. The story of the game seems more like something that a child who always wanted to have everyone of his favorite Marvel characters in a game came up with. It's mostly a generic storyline that made me cringe when i remembered how well I used to love Marvel's comics. Without ruining the story for anyone, itís simple-- your enemy in this game ranges from the questionable use of villains such as Tiger Shark, Arcade, Paibok and Starbolt to the excellent well known villains such as Dr. Doom, Mephisto, Blackheart, and the almighty world eater Galactus. However, that being said, the story is basically a waste of time to try and follow as when itís finally over it still makes very little sense leading one to believe that the only reason they made such a story of Dr. Doom creating a new Masters of Evil is so that they could fit in as many characters as possible. Then again most people just wanted a game where they could play as their favorite Marvel character. Although that particular character may have nothing other than a cameo spot. Sporting the same 4 person at one time playing on one console as both Legends games and online co-operative play as did Legends 2, Marvel: UA adds some new fresh elements that are welcomed.
No longer do you have to have ignorant computer team mates traveling with you if you do not want to for in Marvel: UA you now have the option of going into Arcade mode which removes the computer all together and makes it more interesting as when you finish a level when your playing with someone you get to see your experience points and credits that you are given. Some of the other better things to come into the game this time around is the online co-operative play has become even smoother. The character upgrade is basically the same as it was in the X-Men games allowing you to change the powers around as you want to a degree and allowing you to put gear on your character to make them stronger. Of course theres nothing like creating your own Marvel team to play through as and even discovering that certain teams when put together give the all around team a bigger boost in certain areas. Personally for me the character list, which sports 32 different characters if you take in the fact that some characters such as Iron Man have different outfits that make them a whole different character as War Machine, is alright but not outstanding. Do not get me wrong, I love the fact that i can make Deadpool wear his Weapon X outfit and team up with Spider-Man as the Scarlet Spider or wearing a Symbiote outfit, but then I find myself questioning the use of other characters.
Which leads me into some of the bad things this game has to offer. Characters that are quite horrid and should have been replaced by someone else. As an example-- why is Storm in this game when Gambit has never been in any of the newer video games? Some people sight rights of the character, thatís fine but it doesn't explain why Storm is a playable character when Black Widow isn't unless your playing the PSP version of the game. Then again, why is Moon Knight a playable character on the 360, PS3, and Wii? How many people actually know who Moon Knight is without having to actually be a hardcore Marvel follower? Playing online you will often hear people question your use of Moon Knight as they know nothing about him. This brings me to the true point of why I say the characters for the game is good and bad, the cameos. Many people were thinking Marvel: Ultimate Alliance would have The Incredible Hulk somewhere in the game and alas he never shows himself. But Bruce Banner doesÖ in a cameo scene. How annoying that one of the most known Marvel characters is not even in the Ultimate Alliance when characters such as Iceman, Storm, and the god awful Dr. Strange are playable characters. Then you take a step back and look at the graphics of the game, which sadly, if it wasn't for the cinematic cut scenes would be the exact same as the X-Men Legends 2 graphics. The cinematic graphics are a huge upgrade and look stunning yet you cant tell that the character builds are upgraded with the same over the top standard action RPG game camera angle. Then you have the slightly annoying but mostly just out right hilarious glitches, such as getting stuck on the stairways and not being able to move at all for about ten seconds. Or my personal favorite of picking up a box while playing co-op on xbox live and watching it literally disappear out of your hands leaving your character with his hands up which allows for you to run into a room full of opponents screaming 'I surrender' only to hear the other people questioning why your doing that when on their screens you're still holding the box. Perhaps the most hideous thing about this game is the stupidity of the computer in itís training simulation. I feel sorry for anyone who wants Spider-Man's last outfit and has to do the training mode of his comic book for Dum Dum Dugan (who earns his name perfectly in that mode). Where as some of the missions aren't hard you get stuck with a moronic computer partner that instantly does something like run directly at Scorpion and dying (yes, we thank you Dum Dum for being a complete moron making the mission ten times harder than it had to be). And last but definitely most important is the voice acting. Oh, Raven Software, how you screwed up the voices so terribly on most characters. It becomes painful to hear some of these voice overs at times with the best ones being in my opinion Wolverine portrayed by Steven Blum who some may recognize more as Spike from the anime Cowboy Bebop along with a lot of other animes and Deadpool who was done by John Kassir the voice of the Crypt Keeper in Tales From The Crypt.
Overall though while the game has its negative points it basically comes down to a carbon copy of X-Men Legends 2 with different characters and some new features. I can't say that the game is horrible because while being a very simple game it does lead to fun times but at the same time becomes too repetitive and you often find yourself playing the game simply to get the outfits unlocked to see what they are. The story which is completely a throw away at least has a decent ending. It shows you the effects of what you have done will cause and leaves it open to a sequel. Which I for one hope they do. Only next time I hope they give better characters and have an actual story that holds your interest for longer than the first cut scene. Even though i am a huge fan of Marvel, I find myself wanting to tell people to do nothing but rent this game as it only takes about 12 hours to beat and unless you are a die hard Marvel fan it doesn't offer the replay value necessary to drop 60 bones by most people.