Marvel’s Newest Title is Solid, But Nearly Beats Itself Up

marvelFor the first couple of hours of gameplay, “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2” seems to have it all. The graphics are better than the original and while the story isn’t as epic as the first game in the series, which spanned virtually the entire universe, it’s much more intriguing and almost forces you to continue playing.

Make no mistake about it, Marvel’s “Civil War” was an amazing mini-series in its own right and “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2” does a more than solid job of translating it into video game form.

Because of this, the game has some staying power.

However, after a few hours, the nostalgia begins to wear off and the game feels much less like an action/RPG and much more like a brainless beat-em-up. In spite of those problems, the comic book store owner in all of us will be happy enough with the story, while your inner-video game geek will love the tribute to old school beat-em-ups like “Double Dragon” and “Final Fight” this game eventually feels like.

While the game still has a hearty helping of upgradable elements for each character, the menu options and way the character options are handled make them feel far less important this time around. Sure, upgrading moves and special abilities help you through the course of the game, but they don’t feel as important as making sure you have four characters that have effective double team moves on the screen at all times. As a result, the concept of leveling up your characters and building up their stats, something that was a core part in the first game, doesn’t seem nearly as pivotal.

Furthering this sentiment is the fact that many of the characters move lists from the last game have remained unchanged, making veterans of the series look to use other characters that they are less familiar with. The fact that the majority of the characters in this game have appeared in the original also makes “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2” feel recycled. Sure, fan favorites like Spider-Man and Wolverine will still be picked, even if they are carbon copies of their previous versions, playing through the game that way is a bland way of experiencing this otherwise entertaining adventure.

Other problems, like the game’s camera system, something that was a tedious concern last time around, has not been fixed. It’s still hard to navigate in tight areas and you’ll still lose your character at times when flooded with on-screen enemies. Add that to the amount of content that hasn’t been tweaked and it’s entirely possible that many hardcore fans won’t be as satisfied with the game as they originally thought.

Thankfully, the new fusion moves are fun and speed up the already frenetic gameplay. Seeing your team work together with more cohesion is perhaps the only element of the title that has been improved upon since the last game.

The game is also a blast with friends and is a button-mashing-extravaganza that in spite of being repetitive at times is deep enough to play through more than once. The control scheme is simple as well, making it easy and enjoyable to watch your favorite characters bash their way in defense of their beliefs.

Nonetheless, all this is not enough to make the game truly memorable to anyone not obsessed with the source material.

Sometimes a game has to be more than just fun and because it’s so much like its predecessor, “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2,” isn’t nearly as deep and original as it could have been. Sure it’s a sequel and with some downloadable content possibly on the way, the game can fill out some more, but as for right now, it’s lacking the polish and extras that made its big brother such an excellent release.

It’s still a good title, just not as good as you’d like it to be.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9079 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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