Jun 9, 2010

[Games] Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (PS3)

Marvel Ultimate Alliance (PS3)When a game is ported to other systems, you generally expect that the game will more or less remain the same across the different platforms. Usually developers mention that certain secret areas might change or bonus items will vary or other more cosmetic changes across the versions. If the system limitations will prevent the port, then you just leave it at that and start to feel the pressure to buy the appropriate console in order to get access to the game.

This has largely proven true for the games that I've played multiple versions of. The controls will change slightly given the specific nature of the console but the game and its story are pretty much intact. This has also been seen in console-to-PC translations of games like Final Fantasy VII, that went rather well when you get down to it. I can understand the need for certain things to change, but in terms of content, it really shouldn't shift around too much. At least that's how I see it.

Sadly, I first played the PS2 version of this game and it was a horrendous mess, so much so that I'm not even going to bother trying to formally review it. Thankfully the PS3 version of the game was a lot better, although I can't help but wonder why the bothered with the PS2 version at all.

Cover of "Secret War (New Avengers)"Cover of Secret War (New Avengers)

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is the sequel to the popular game that followed the tradition of the likes of the X-Men Legends franchise. While the first game based more of its story from the Ultimate line of Marvel comics, the sequel more closely followed the Secret War and Civil War crossover events.

The game starts a year before the Civil War event when Nick Fury leads a team of heroes into Latveria to capture Lucia Von Bardas, who has been selling weapons to various super villains. Given Latveria is a separate country, this is technically an act of terrorism. Despite this, the heroes trust Fury is leading them to do the right thing and thus they take on Castle Doom and stop Von Bardas' operations.

One year later, Von Bardas returns and attacks New York City as a way to seek revenge on America for destroying her home. She's aided by a variety of villains such as Shocker and the Wizard but is eventually defeated. While the US Government contemplates a Superhuman Registration Act (SRA) making its way through congress, the incident at Stamford, Connecticut happens, pushing the SRA into law and forcing the heroes to choose their sides: Pro-Registration or Anti-Registration. And thus the game's story forks depending on what path you take.

The gameplay of MUA 2 largely follows the same system of powers and button combinations as the first one. The big changes for the sequel involve changes like new Fusion abilities that replace the ultra-powerful 4th level attacks of the first game. This way, each character has a variety of Fusion abilities depending on which character you pair him or her up with. The first one you are introduced to in the beginning of the game is Iron Man shooting his repulsor rays at Wolverine, who in turn blocks it with his claws, thus splitting the rays in all directions. If you're lazy you can leave the distribution of stats and utilization of team-level boosts to automatic distribution, resulting in much simpler play which may or may not be a good thing.

The game also continues the tradition of making available a large number of playable Marvel heroes and villains for your use with certain characters restricted to specific consoles. For the PS3 version, some of the unique characters to the console include the likes of Iron Fist. Some of your opponents are similar console-specific such as Bishop, Molten Man, Patriot and Prodigy. Plus there's the promise of additional downloadable characters and other content. The number of alternate costumes has been dramatically reduced to one per character instead of the 3 additional costumes granted in the first game and they no longer have a significant effect on the character's powers.

The game does have a nicely robust storyline that doesn't allow itself to be limited to the original Civil War story. Some variations include a new sub-plot about the nanites being used to control the super villains being more than just a glitch, thus giving the characters something else to think about apart from the silly civil war. I was never really sold on the concept of the comic book so it was nice to see an effort to give the overall story more depth somehow.

At the end of the day, the game is a lot of button-mashing fun and minor tweak that makes your energy bar recharge over time has had a tremendous effect on the fun factor for the game. In the past you largely stuck to punches and kicks to work your way through enemies, but now it's possible to use your powers more freely throughout the game, resulting in more dynamic gameplay. Plus seeing all this action with the HD-quality graphics of the PS3 certainly pushes the limits of what the game can accomplish.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for the PS3 is another great addition to the cooperative action-adventure gaming genre. It gets 4 silly-looking nanite-derived tendrils out of a possible 5.

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