Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

After a 3 year hiatus, Marvel tag teams with Vicarious Visions (VV) to bring forth the sequel Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (MUA2). This action-RPG video game, published by Activision, covers the core elements of the 'Secret War' and 'Civil War' storylines taken from the actual Marvel comic book series. Though both have been met with tension seemingly spurting a few rival disagreements from fans to editors, the core concept of the story is second to none.

Reminiscent of 'X-Men Legends', the game play mechanics is based on a 4 character acquisition for missions and you roam around fighting villains and heroes depending on your position to be Pro-Registration or Anti-Registration. Confused???

Surely if you are avid reader of comic books, and a dedicated follower of Marvel this would be simplistic to comprehend and understand. For the gamer, who just wants to game, they may need to take a college-level course to be able to appreciate the complexity and angst this game manages to pack in.

With over 23 characters to choose and fuse you will definitely smash many robots and soldiers to be able to appreciate all the super-human skills your characters will have to offer. One of the more unique aspects to the game is the ability to fuse players' abilities together to bring forth a more powerful combination blow to your adversaries. There are over 250 unique fusions to play with. For the hardcore comic enthusiasts that titillating fact will garner much approval coupled with the role playing game (RPG) element of leveling up abilities, powers, and boosts.

There are multiple endings and many unlocked characters that you will have the ability to acquire as you press forth. There is some never before seen downloaded content to add to the package almost like a DVD experience for the dedicated 'Marveler'.

So does "Ultimate Alliance" deliver the goods in their second installment? Though an adequate action/RPG, MUA2 would have been better suited released in 2007 when the essence of this style of play would be more embraced; but the advancement of action/RPG is gone way beyond this style of play and so it makes this more archaic than heroic.

While the Marvel montage clips and sequences give a movie like feel to explain the plot, the dynamics of the storyline seem way too drawn out and complicated to appreciate the qualities and strife our beloved super heroes have had to go through to get to this point. Interestingly the characters' dialogue during the storylines stood out but not in a positive manner. To truly appreciate the essence of the characters you play with, the dry and often lackluster verbal exchanges really set the quality of the game back. Downloading content seems to take quite some time at critical moments when you just want to play, and the console control seems to be a little more complex than needed to appreciate the special features this game has to offer.

That said the 4 player coop mode does offer some neat advantages for your offline gaming experience. Despite the cumbersome controls, co-op specific team upgrades encourage online play and replayability to discover all of the different combinations. Improved online play also allows your characters to retain their experience gained through co-op play and carry that over into your own single-player campaign. Another advantage of cooperative play is the ability to earn team boost metals.



Boosts as you may recall, are RPG like abilities that enhance your team's performance. With over 200 boosts in the game you can amplify your team's performance based on your play style. "Fast Learner" lets you earn levels, powers, and skills faster. "Elemental Excess", amps up your melee damage with elemental attacks. "Non-Stop Heroics", is designed to allow you to use your superpowers nearly constantly. "Wrecking Ball" lets you safely wade into the fray with devastating melee attacks. "Super Tough", adds 3 to your body stats for increased hit points and "No Touching" makes you immune to grappling.

And what super hero game can be complete without the prospect of environmental destabilization or destruction. Not sure about you but I've yet to see an encounter between heroes and villains that didn't end up with the destruction of public property. The same is true for MUA2. In-fact it's practically unavoidable. Have the Hulk pick up a car and smash into his enemy for extra damage or use Jonny Storm from range to blow up something near an enemy.

True to its word though MUA2 will give you the opportunity to tinker with many characters and plots to see whichever side you choose to victory. Unfortunately the fusion of Vicarious Visions and Activision falls a little short of expectation resurrecting the greatest comic book heroes on this Marvel installment.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is set to be released this fall on all current gen and next gen platforms (excluding PC).
By Calbert Lee
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