Games: ‘Ultimate Alliance’ offers heroes, villains, fun
January 7, 2007
Even superheroes can have a bad day — and that’s good news for gamers craving some super action.
In Activision’s “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance,” the bad news comes rolling in once the dreaded Dr. Doom gathers a high-powered band of baddies intent on world domination. Gamers must then assemble a task force to meet the challenge.
Gamers have more than 20 heroes to choose from, ranging from the wise-cracking Spider-Man and glumly ornery Wolverine to the ultra-patriotic Captain America and slightly deranged Deadpool.
It sounds impressive, but so does Doom’s lineup, which boasts super villains from across the Marvel comic book universe. Doom himself steadily gains strength — even acquiring the powers of the Norse god Odin.
The results of the struggle could affect the entire universe.
The basics will be familiar to anyone who’s played Activision’s “X-men Legends.” Gamers form a four-character team with off-setting strengths, and rotate among the heroes as situations demand. Run into someone who needs clobberin’ — pick The Thing. Feeling a little abrasive — pick Deadpool. Get tired of Thor’s mightier-than-thou attitude, switch him out for that hot Elektra babe.
Each of the characters offers different fighting techniques — flying, pounding, shooting or slashing. Each also offers unique upgrades as the story progresses.
The action moves through 17 locations — from undersea Atlantis to different dimensions. Each level looks quite different from the others and offers plenty of items to smash. Most also offered a few easy puzzles to solve. However, “Ultimate Alliance” isn’t about puzzles. It’s about fighting.
Battles are virtually nonstop when the team’s outside its base. On most systems, these usually end up as button-mashing free-for-alls. The Wii’s motion-sensitive controller changes things a bit. The characters’ attacks result from a wacky combination of jabs, slashes, wiggles and thrusts. Although some of the gestures bear a relationship to the attacks they produce, others don’t. This occasionally made me wish for some good ol’ button- mashing — until Wolverine would deliver a satisfying uppercut to stun a nasty foe.
The game offers plenty of side quests. Performance on these can affect the course of “future history,” which is unveiled after the game’s completion. For example, players who fail to save one of the X-men will doom Dr. Xavier.
The graphics are good and the animation is fluid. Voice work is good — but can get repetitious.
The game can be played in solo or multiplayer modes. This can be fun — and a bit dangerous when arms start flailing in the Wii version.
Overall, the game is very fun and offers a good deal of replayability because of the large number of possible character combinations and the multiplayer capability.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Platforms: Nintendo’s Wii, PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox and Xbox 360, Game Boy Advance and PlayStation Portable
Rating: T, for ages 13 and older
On the Web:www.marvelultimatealliance.com