Comic lovers usually get stuck with unplayable trash when their beloved superheroes are cast in video games. There are a few exceptions, however, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is the newest game in Activision’s Marvel RPG series that refuses to suck. The two X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance have been so well-liked due to the successful combination of Marvel’s finest with classic RPG hack’n’slash gameplay.
The storyline is loosely adapted from the fairly recent Civil War and Secret War plotlines in Marvel’s comics. In response to an unexpected attack, the government is forcing supers to reveal their identities and involuntarily do its bidding. This pits your favorite heroes and villains against each other as they decide to either give in and register or join the resistance.
The roster of characters, 24 of which are playable, is very impressive. If they’ve been in a movie, then odds are they made the cut, but some less commonly known heroes like Songbird and Ms. Marvel are options as well. Everyone is well balanced and has their own strengths, so you won’t have to fight over who gets to be Wolverine anymore.
Four superheroes and/or villains make a team. You and up to three others can each select a player, and if you lack this many friends then the extras are controlled by the computer. At any time you can instantly swap to one of the AI-controlled players with the directional pad.
Foes can be attacked with one of two melee moves, or you can press the shoulder button to use a character’s super powers. As you defeat enemies you’ll gain experience points (XP), and gaining enough will let you choose which of your hero’s abilities deserve a boost.
Fusion attacks are a new feature in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. They allow you to team up with another player for an ultra-powerful strike. The attack is preceded by a button mashing mini-game that affects its magnitude. There are over 250 of fusion possibilities, and the two characters involved determine what kind of mayhem will be unleashed. The majority of these destructive sequences are a delight to watch, although some do look pretty similar to one another.
There is plenty of additional content to keep you occupied after completing the story. The trivia questions that reward Marvel comic history knowledge with XP points are back. Some of the characters have to be unlocked, and there are additional costumes to acquire as well. Most of the replayability is supplied by the storyline, however. It’s a lot of fun to go back through a second time on the opposite side of the civil war.
Online play is available, and an excellent new feature is having the computer take over when a player wants to manage their character’s stats. Anyone who has ever had to pause from the action to watch some joker mentally debate over how to distribute attribute points will instantly realize how great this is.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is essentially the same game as its precursors with new locations and additional characters from the Marvel universe. Like many people, I personally love these types of games and have no issue with the lack of radical progression since the original X-Men Legends. Everything that is great about the series is back in addition to a few minor enhancements, and for most fans that is reason enough to pick up a copy.