The Incredible Hulk has been surprisingly well represented in pop culture of late, what with Ang Lee's big-budget action movie from a couple of summers ago and the attendant tie-in game that was released along with it. The guys who made that game, Radical Entertainment, are now hard at work on a new Hulk game focused more closely on the original comic book character. This one's called The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and based on the action-packed playable demo we just tried out, that subtitle is pretty apt.
There's no pretense of storyline or motive in this demo of Ultimate Destruction--Hulk is pissed off, and it's time to wreck the city. Luckily, you've got an impressive array of moves and abilities to help you cause damage and take out as many agents of the law as you can. You can make hulk punch indefinitely by hammering on the basic attack button, and you've also got a list of special combo moves that you can use by hitting the right sequence of regular and special attacks. You can also dash at enemies or leap into the air and land on them with tremendous force. Finally, you can even jump toward a building, then jump again off its surface and repeat this move over and over to get to the roof and survey the city from on high.
As you fight, you'll rack up damage points that the game will use to rank you, and in fact, the two-minute demo challenges you to smash everything you can in that short period to achieve the best rank possible, which will give you a password that you can use in the retail game to access some unnamed secrets. (No word is available yet on how this demo will be distributed, but we imagine it will see fairly wide release, since Sierra has gone to the trouble of printing up a promo package for it and all.)
From what we can tell, just about everything in the game's environment is destructible. Any free-standing objects like phone booths, cars, and so on can be beaten into scrap, which adds to your damage total. You can also pound the buildings themselves, which seems to cause superficial damage. Whether or not you can actually bring buildings down, in the style of that old arcade classic Rampage, remains to be seen. If you're feeling particularly saucy, you can even pick up objects like cars or buses and hurl them at other enemies, which is made easier by an autotarget function that will immediately highlight the nearest enemy and then direct your projectile toward it.
Ultimate Destruction gives you full freedom of movement around the cityscape, much like in Grand Theft Auto--although Tommy Vercetti was never able to leap up and scale skyscrapers through the sheer strength of his legs. This game also shares the violence-escalation mechanic familiar in the GTA games, in that the more wreckage you cause, the more upset the authorities get, and the harder they try to stop you. We went on a total rampage at one point and broke everything we could find, which first summoned a few tanks--we had to toss more than a few cars at these to take them out.
After we dispatched the artillery, the game informed us a strike team had been dispatched to take us out, and no sooner had we seen that message than a helicopter was peppering us with machine-gun fire. Luckily, the lock-on feature made it easy to hurl a bus at the helicopter and bring it right down to the ground, at which point we could use it as a weapon. Good thing, too, since some kind of crazy bipedal robot was the next line of defense. We have to say that throwing the burned-out husk of a helicopter at this weirdo police robot was a satisfying experience. It wasn't so satisfying, however, when the robot turned the tables on us, picking up Hulk and throwing him into a building for a change. We didn't have a chance to get past this sequence, what with the two-minute timer, but we're looking forward to seeing what other crazy obstacles you'll run up against in the final game.
Radical's previous Hulk game, the one based on the movie, focused mostly on having you fight against human opponents. This new one makes you much larger than life, though--the few human characters we saw in the demo came up to Hulk's knee, maybe. So the idea here is Hulk versus the environment, and we appreciate the many tools being provided to make sure that Marvel's big green dude comes out on top.
Ultimate Destruction is due out in the third quarter. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.