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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Nihilistic Software / EA Canada

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 21, 2005

 

 

- Solid Xbox Live play
- Best X-Men fighting game since the 2D fighter Marvel vs. Capcom 2
- Big roster of Marvel superheroes to use in fighting arena with tons of destructible elements

 

 

- Graphics of characters range from very good (Spider-Man, Human Torch and the Thing) to the mediocre (Electra, Storm)
- Imperfects storyline, even if it is featured in t comic series, is not very interesting
- Some characters (Wolverine particularly) are rendered practically useless in online fighting matches
- A.I. more often than not presents a low challenge in single-player story mode

 

 

Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (XB)

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man (XB)

Review: X-Men Next Dimension (XB)

Review: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (XB)

Review: Def Jam Fight for New York (XB)

Review: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (360)

 

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Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

marvel nemesis rise of the imperfects          marvel nemesis rise of the imperfects

 

There’s been a recent run of very good video games released the past few years starring the Marvel comic universe of heroes and villains. Spider-Man, the Hulk, and even the X-Men have starred in critically acclaimed titles over the last few years (compare that to the dearth of good DC comics-based games, which usually have been awful, including Aquaman, Superman and most Batman games).

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, a fighting game with heavy brawler influences, is the latest Marvel universe title trying to join the in the Marvel video game greatness, but fails to rise to the cream of the Marvel gaming crop, with imperfections including a schizophrenic visual presentation and a uninteresting storyline. Fortunately, a rich Marvel cast of characters, okay brawler features and generally fun and challenging solid online gaming via Xbox Live redeems Marvel Nemesis.

The game has a large cast of Marvel familiars: Wolverine (my favorite comic book hero ever), Spider-Man, Storm, Elektra, The Thing, and five others. But new to this

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Marvel-based game are the Imperfects, a group of villainous beings who have all been mutated and mutilated in some way by the alien Van Roekel, who’s attempting to create the “perfect” fighting creatures. The Imperfects have actually been featured in a tie-in Marvel comic mini-series. The story of Marvel Nemesis is that the Marvel heroes are being attacked by an alien force that has a tie to Van Roekel, but it

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doesn’t really translate into an engrossing tale that would carry the story mode.

In the end, gamers will be more interested in unlocking the levels, characters, character cards and comics more than follow the tepid plot of the Imperfect storyline, and the Imperfects introduction in this game won’t sell many copies of the comic, because most aren’t that interesting on either a whole or singular level. Most are some variation on an already-existing Marvel hero, such as Solara, a flaming female version of the Human Torch.

What saves Marvel Nemesis from the uninteresting story is the mix of fighting and brawler gameplay. While its fair to categorize Marvel Nemesis as a fighter just like Dead or Alive 3 or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, it has more than a few shared genes with brawlers such as old-school games Bad Street Brawler and Double Dragon through to today’s games like
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Kung Fu Chaos and the upcoming Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance (from Capcom, the makers of one of the Marvel universe’s finest series of fighting-style games, Marvel vs. Capcom).

Gameplay falls into the same basic category each and every time. Your hero/Imperfect character is placed in a decently sized fighting arena (one of only a handful of repeating levels) that range from an underground lab to a mansion to a city street to a debris-littered bridge to the top of the Daily Bugle building. There are a few variations on gameplay (from timed objectives to beating an end boss that’s one of the game’s heroes or Imperfects). But whatever the objective of the five or so “missions” for each Marvel hero, it breaks down to being attacked by a group of Van Roekel’s robotic fighting machines and you needing to vanquish them.

 

marvel nemesis rise of the imperfects           marvel nemesis rise of the imperfects


But because of a pretty poor enemy A.I., it’s not hard at all to get through the hero “missions” within 20 to 30 minutes for each hero. The A.I. is easily beaten using the hero’s abilities (Spider-Man and Venom can shoot webs, Daredevil whips enemies, Elektra throws daggers, Wolverine slices and dices with his claws, Iron Man shoots projectiles, Thing just smashes the hell out of everything and everybody). But a good feature of Marvel Nemesis is that you can use objects lying around the arena to defeat your enemies.

You can throw gas canisters that explode when thrown or if you’re one of the stronger heroes like Thing, you can pick up cars and trucks, even hurl a tank. The environment can be used as a weapon, and almost everything on the screen can be used to your advantage. The A.I. isn’t usually very smart, so if you clear out all the projectile-firing robots first, by moving away from them and throwing debris and objects at them until they’re beaten, the rest of Van Roekel’s minions can be beaten with little effort. As long as you stay away from being ganged up on by more than one robotic enemy at a time, you’ll be able to breeze through most “missions” in about three minutes apiece.

In fact, most times it is challenging only during the boss battles that square you off against another “brainwashed” Marvel hero or an Imperfect. These battles move at a ridiculous pace, as your enemy is flying around the screen at a too-fast rate. You have to really keep your thumbs twitching on the game controller to avoid your enemy while inflicting your own damage on them. After a while, sans the boss battles, the gameplay starts to become too repetitive to really much enjoy the single-player side of Marvel Nemesis, even for the most ardent Marvel fan.

While the gameplay is a letdown, the visuals overall aren’t (although the female heroes, Storm and Elektra, aren’t very attractively rendered compared to their male counterparts). EA employed comic artist Jae Lee to create the character graphics for Marvel Nemesis, and the results are good for most part. Spider-Man, Venom, the Thing, and especially the Human Torch, in all his incandescent, “flame on” glory, are all impressive visually, as is many of the Imperfects. But as good as the characters look, the environmental arenas aren’t of the same high quality.

As disappointing as the overall single-player Marvel Nemesis experience is, at least it is salvaged by multiplayer gameplay, especially online over Xbox Live. Again, game on Xbox Live move at a superhero blur, and you’ve got to really be ready to handle some of the better players you’ll face online. But after a while of acclimating to the speed of online matches, online gameplay will provide an extreme challenge that you won’t see in single-player gaming, but as long as you select a good character for online play. Some characters are totally useless online, such as Wolverine and even the Thing. The best characters to use online are projectile-firing beings like Iron Man and the Human Torch, because you can hit enemies from a safe distance. Wolverine and Thing need to be up close and personal to beat down enemies, so they stand little chance against any hero that can inflict damage with some sort of projectile attack.

Xbox Live gamers will enjoy the online play (if they select a character that can fire weapons- or powers-based projectiles) and it’s nice to have a brawler/fighter that showcases the Marvel universe so well, but an imperfect storyline that just doesn’t draw gamers into the Marvel Nemesis realm very far and a weak A.I. challenge in the single-player story mode hold the game back from reaching the heights of previous Marvel-based games.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(October 24, 2005)

 

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