Marvel Ultimate Alliance Review

Ultimate Alliance Review
Written by Jules Grimm
Published by CroTech

If you’re a Marvel fan, then your first reaction to this game was to wonder whether they were going to include your favourite character. The second thing was to wonder whether the game would be done to the high standards that Marvel fans expect from games, especially after the success of the X-men Legends games. There have been two camps of thinking, one that this game would be the best thing ever brought to the Xbox 360 and the other that this might be the most over hyped piece of rubbish brought to the Xbox 360. So far I think the first camp has won. Since Activision and Raven Software were the companies responsible for the X-men Legends games it was always more likely to build on their success.

Before this game I hadn’t really bought into the Xbox 360 culture, I liked it just fine, but I wasn’t a huge fan. This game changed my thoughts on the whole console “war” and put me firmly in the Xbox 360 camp. I love RPG’s on the PC and this successfully helped me make the jump RPG’s on the Xbox 360. This combines Action and RPG elements in ways that help to show off the best of both genres. There are so many aspects to it that you never feel like anything in particular is underdeveloped. There’s enough storyline to enjoy, without becoming a mass of cut scenes and talking. There’s also enough action to keep you engaged, without letting the game become a smash and grab game.


The Bad Asses

The presentation of the game is very straight forward, which prevents you getting lost when you’re just getting into the game. The menus and character sheets are well set out with the relevant information very clearly displayed. This is a major bonus for those people who are playing on smaller screens and can help those people who have slight sight impairments. The in game menu system is extensive and allow you to access pretty much anything you need to at any point. The extent of the character customisation menus is broader than you typically find, which allows you to control the way in which the characters develop far more than normal. The overall look of the game is very polished and the menus and navigation do nothing to alter that perception.


The battles tend to get fun.


I found the graphics of the game to be good quality, without it overriding other aspects of the game. I must have watched the opening scene at least twenty or more times to date and it still makes me laugh. It could just be that I’m easily entertained, but I like to think it’s because the creators brought characters to life that are genuinely entertaining and appealing. The in game graphics are good, although they can be a little murky and indistinct at certain points, but this then highlights the bright colours of many of the costumes. The cut scenes are well put together although you can sometimes feel like there are too many. Within the game there are a lot of tributes to games that have gone before. The most prominent is the tribute to Pitfall that’s a game within a game when you’re in Murderworld. Little features like this add a lot of depth to the game and spark recognition from gamers that might otherwise feel a little left out.

The sounds in Ultimate Alliance are good on the whole with the odd aspect that spoils it occasionally. The background music adds atmosphere, particularly during the battle scenes when the tempo jumps and gets your heart pumping and your mind in the mood to rip someone’s head off. The different character’s voices come through well and you can tell that they used a variety of different people to voice the different characters. The fact that some character interact with one another and NPC’s differently to everyone else in line with Marvel comic storylines adds an extra dimension to the game experience. Occasionally the voices will be slightly drowned out by the background music although this didn’t happen often enough for it to get really annoying. The environment sounds, like that of the millionth barrel being shattered are good. They can come through a little indistinctly depending on what caused the sound and what is occurring in the surrounding environment.

Game play in Ultimate Alliance was very enjoyable overall, although it could have been increased excellent if a little more effort had been expended. The good impression was heightened by the small touches, such as the ability to throw people. Being able to grab an NPC’s weapon from their hand and then beat them with it was also enjoyable. Individual character’s powers were easily identifiable from the comics and very easy to use. You could change easily from character to character and while the powers very clearly showed you that you had changed, the controls still are still easy to manipulate. A lot of thought went into making sure that the powers were true to the original powers in the Marvel universe while still ensuring that the characters did not at any point begin to feel homogenous. Single player and multiplayer on the same Xbox work very well, although a split screen for the multiplayer would have been nice, the multiplayer on Xbox Live is a complete let down though.

Iceman is one of the many characters you get to play as.

I found the replay value extremely high, I’ve had the game for a few months and I still enjoy picking up the controller for a few rounds fairly often. This is the sort of game that I could continue to play on and off for the better part of a year. The ease of game play and the enjoyable storyline definitely contribute to this high replay value. The huge range of different characters that you have the option to play is the major part of why this game does not get boring for a long time. There are characters to unlock throughout the game in addition to the characters that you begin with. There are a variety of ways to unlock a character including rescuing them and picking up dolls of them.

Overall I found this game to be as much fun as a barrel of leprechauns on St Patrick’s Day. It’s especially enjoyable to sit down on the couch with a friend and play multiplayer on a single Xbox 360, rather than playing multiplayer on Xbox Live. The graphics were good when I first looked at them, but subsequent games have made them seem a little less amazing. Sound was great and definitely added and extra bit of atmosphere to the game that it might have lacked otherwise. It’s a definite must for those who are Marvel fans, and it gives a bit of an intro to some famous Marvel characters for those people who are not immersed in the brand yet. The trivia game is something that no real Marvel fan can afford to ignore, since the temptation to see how much you really know about the Mighty World of Marvel is going to haunt you.

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