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Platform

XBox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Vicarious Visions

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 15, 2009

 

 

- Continues a lot of what made the original so fun: loads of playable characters, enemies, and nifty comic book callbacks

- Four player combat is best

 

 

- All my online multiplayer suffered from lag (possibly not the game's problem)

- Role-playing elements weren't interesting enough for me to care

- Why aren't the CG cutscenes sharper?

- Enjoyed the comic book settings of the original more than the more "serious" settings here

 

 

Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance (360)

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (360)

Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)

 

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

marvel ultimate alliance 2          marvel ultimate alliance 2

 

It's hard to believe that it has been three years since the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance was released. At least for me since I've played it on and off since then (though I never did unlock Daredevil). There's something about the four-player comic book super hero action that appeals to me and for the most part its sequel, cleverly titled Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, gets the alchemy right for a mostly enjoyable (and great-looking) button-mashing experience starring a large roster of Marvel superheroes. All this plus an actual story!

 

Unless you're already familiar with some of the more recent happenings in the Marvel comic book universe, you won't pick-up on where the story lines have been

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lifted from and meshed together with some new material. The most important element is the so-called Civil War aspect where heroes fall on opposite sides of the Super Hero Registration Act.  It's one of those lovely setups where gamers get to face off against true Marvel villains like Venom and Heroes like Ant Man or She-Hulk with your own upgraded superhero team using

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"unique" Fusion Powers, which level smaller foes and take bosses down a notch or two.

 

There seemed to be a lot of hype around the Fusion Powers.  There aren't a billion different Fusion Power combinations and early on in the game it's obvious that although the team-ups are unique, the Fusion results are often the same. For example, using a "Clearing" Fusion with Ms. Marvel or Iron Man with Wolverine, the result will be the same. There's different lighting involved but it does the same thing. That doesn't make it a bad thing, the claim that there's a zillion different combinations is really in name only. The Fusions are pretty damn cool though and they don't get old. Seeing Spider-Man and Hulk team-up to slam a big piece of concrete on a group of guys is a lot of fun, especially when you're playing with a few friends.

 

marvel ultimate alliance 2          marvel ultimate alliance 2

 

Special note on the "playing with real people" front: My experience with online play was, for the most part, awful. When I could find a game, it was almost always plagued by enough lag to make playing a frustrating experience. And the one time I did get a game that wasn't jittery, the host was constantly flipping to the pause menu so he could change his costume! It's much, much better when you have people playing from one console so all these issues disappear.

 

The role-playing elements -- upgrading your heroes -- have been put in the backseat or at least made so automatic you don't even need to think about it.  With the original, I spent a lot of time, figuring out the best combinations and upgrades that would be most effective but with Ultimate Alliance 2 I set it to auto allocate and forgot about it. I never felt the need to go back and make any manual adjustments. Now, it's possible that I just didn't want to go back and futz around with it, which isn't a fault of the game so much as a change in my personal play style. It wasn't as if the game suddenly got harder because I wasn't allocating skill points or equipping the right bonus items. Why have it if it doesn't seem to matter?

 

In what has been a really good year for comic book and superhero games, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is another highlight. It doesn't expand very much on the original game and I didn't like the settings as much the original but when you're button mashing and having fun with some friends that doesn't matter too much.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(October 15, 2009)

 

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