What could be cooler than taking control of your favorite super heroes and beating the snot out of unsuspecting bad guys?! Well, it would be an original concept if they’d never made the first Ultimate Alliance. This new supercharged adventure has everything you’ve come to expect from Marvel’s series of beat ’em ups: super powers, super villains, super tight clothes and super gruff voices, but they forgot the super fun.
Ultimate Alliance 2 does have a few changes from the first one, but the biggest change would be that 2 has a storyline. That’s right, no more beating up some random evil person and thinking, “What the hell am I doing?” The plot (based on an actual series of comics) is about a “Superhero Registration Act.” It would force every hero to register their identities with the government and become paid and regulated agents. As you can imagine, that doesn’t sit well with many of the characters, so it boils down to a big fight between the heroes that are “Anti-Reg,” such as Captain America and Wolverine, and the heroes that are “Pro-Reg,” like Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic.
The story quickly became my favorite part, despite the differences from the comics. The game play is exactly the same as the first game. You run around and tap A or B to punch people while using your powers. It can get pretty monotonous at times, but the story does a good job of keeping you motivated. Something that really surprised me was that they took away a lot of the RPG elements that made the first game really fun. Instead of having twenty powers or so that you upgrade and swap, each hero only has four powers. It felt like they were “dumbing” it down so that people could play more easily, but it actually just made me get even more bored with leveling up. I used to always want to make sure I knew how my skill points were spent, but there isn’t a reason anymore because the Auto-Level feature keeps you balanced.
Powers aren’t the only thing that’s disappointing in this sequel. The costumes no longer give special bonuses to your character, they are purely cosmetic. Each hero only has one alternate costume, instead of the original four. Considering that there weren’t that many more playable characters than the first title, I thought they were being a little lazy in leaving a lot out.
Another change is that there will be no more scrambling for items dropped by bosses and hidden in the levels. They replaced it with “Boosts” that you find and earn. You equip them for your entire team, so you all share the effects. Honestly, the boosts didn’t matter at all. I mean, you get some achievements for collecting a lot of them, so there’s a positive.
So, what fun did they leave for gamers? They incorporated a new feature that allows two heroes to combine powers into a massive attack that deals out hella damage. They were really hyping up the fact that there are hundreds of combinations of these “Fusion” attacks, but most of them are just the same attack with different characters. Two big, strong characters will ground pound, two fighters will run quickly across the map and switch out beating the bad guys in front of them. That was a huge let down, because I thought every one would be different, but there is probably only six or seven truly unique ones and hundreds of boring carbon copies of the same attacks.
The graphics were touched up from the first game (Iron Man is so shiny!) and the epic music makes you feel like you’re part of the civil war. The cut scenes are very well done and are a great break from the repeated game play. There were quite a few “Woah!” moments, including one where I completely thought Iron Man killed the crap out of Nick Fury.
Overall, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 took away a lot of the enjoyable elements of the first, without replacing them with something new. The lack of depth in the game play makes the story the only driving force during most of the game. If you’re a fan of the series, please just rent this title. Ultimate Alliance 2 is definitely not worth a buy.
I give Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 3 “Carbon Copies” out of 5
By Blake Edwards