Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Review (PS3)

A ravenous mixture of strategic RPG and action beat-‘em-up, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance proves that superheroes can still be fun. Whether you spend time finding your favorite team, chugging through the story, or playing through the extraneous content, there’s something for everyone with plenty of time and patience for button mashing.

Boss fights often seem one sided when surrounding the supervillian
Using special abilities can get you out of a tight jam and is fun to do

The first thing to point out is that the differences between the PS3 version and the 360 (and even the PS2 and Xbox) are negligible. Graphics are practically identical, the characters are the same, and even the tilt functions for the PS3 can (and should be) shut off. At least the 360 version has achievement points and a much larger online community through Xbox Live.

At its heart, M:UA is as free as any RPG around. 25 characters are available, all of them with very different attributes, for the most part. Different powers, costumes and gear means that any four character team will work unless just beating the game is in mind. M:UA really wants those players who spend hundreds of hours looking for every special item and gaining experience points.

Corny Marvel lines return from the previous games. A cringing experience ensued early on, but dialogue and storyline evolved. The storyline, in fact, started very amateurish but halfway though it becomes apparent, like an episode of Lost, that everything connects. At least M:UA closes all of its plot points. Whether IGN’s story of the year for PS3 award was correctly given is questionable however.

It’s typical to face off against large numbers of enemies
Group powers will almost always win over individual strength

A pleasure over most RPG’s was the wide assortment of easily exchangeable characters. Forget about picking your favorite heroes. Work with all of them and pick the ones you like. If you do this, be wary of choosing your team for the ‘team experience points,’ which get halved every time you change any character.

There were quite a bit of small technical errors that disrupted gameplay, which was unexpected for an Activision published title. Getting stuck in a corner with your teammates locking you in and not moving, enemies standing still for minutes at a time...just to name a few.

Activision did pull out its best hand to get as many heroes into M:UA, but they still played favorites. Without giving away the ending, there is an ever slimming number of heroes in the cinematics until just four. One of those, Wolverine, is basically the strongest character in the game. His unique “rage” ability makes him uber-powerful to the extent that it becomes a joke. X-Men 3 must have been a bigger success than Spiderman 2.

The biggest fault falls on how mindless gameplay is. Like any MMO, the fun is in fulfilling quests, not pounding baddies into the ground over and over and over again. Repetition and button smashing are words that come to mind. The bosses can all be defeated using the same tactics, which is basically hit, go behind them, repeat.

Online gameplay has definitely been improved from previous games, and no frame rate drop or serious issues are around. But as stated earlier, it’s not XBL, so finding a friend to play with may take some time. Regardless, cooperative play through the campaign or the Arcade mode is intensely fun.

Plus if you’ve got a few friends over and some extra controllers, they can just jump in and take command of whomever and lend a hand. Pretty nifty to not be forced into another screen to log in that new player.

Easy signature designated objectives make gameplay quick and lucid
Destinations range from different HQ’s, mythical worlds and even different dimensions

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is not an intense game and will not bring any Leeroy Jenkins moments. It works best for those people who like to kick back after a hard day of work for an hour or two on their couch and relax with a nice game. You won’t be yelling at the TV, complaining your controllers broken, or ever really anything. But paying an extra $20 for basically a port from the PS2 or Xbox version doesn’t really seem worth it. For Marvel fans, it definitely is a must have.

Top Game Moment:
Unleashing four ultimate attacks at once on a room full of baddies. Nothing to satisfy that need for destruction like wiping out a room by nothing more than a whim.