By Patrick Hickey Jr.
A few years ago, a small company named Raven software created the best super hero game to come out in ages: X-Men Legends. Not only did the game use a rehashed version of the gameplay engine of the popular Baldur’s Gate series, it also captured the essence of the X-Men Universe better than ever before. Since then, not only has the company released a successful sequel to the series, they have also managed to create a game in Marvel Ultimate Alliance that features many of the greatest heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe with a top notch story that any fan will eat up.
Simply put, from the first second the game starts, it’s obvious that a ton of work went into everything from the pre-game trailers to the voice-overs, making Ultimate Alliance have a polished and deep feel. On the gameplay front, the game plays smoother than its older X-Men Legends cousins and features puzzles and enemies that are much harder than many might expect. Despite this, it’s hard to deny the fact that the game is uber similar to the previous games Raven has produced over the years, it just has more characters in it.
While this works to the favor of the series, any fan of the X-Men Legends series will recognize the voices and fighting styles of all the X-Men from the previous games, which have barely been changed if they have been at all, making them want to try something new and play with the other 20 odd selectable characters like Spiderman, Thor, Luke Cage and Ghost Rider.
One other small problem is the camera system, which hasn’t been changed at all from X-Men Legends 2. Gamers at times may find themselves loosing track of where their characters are when there are multiple enemies on screen and may have to adjust the camera when in tight corners. While it never gets to the point where it detracts anything from the in-game experience, being a minuscule nuisance at best, it may get annoying at times and could have been solved if the characters were scaled a little bigger.
On a positive note, the story in Ultimate Alliance is absolutely phenomenal, as it touches on almost every inch of the Marvel Universe and features so many characters that most comic book fans may have to look up some of the lesser-known ones on the internet to find out who they are. As well, every hero manages to stick out in their own way and provide a different gameplay experience, making the gamer want to finish the game multiple times. The host of extra goodies added in like costumes, comics and special abilities also add depth to the overall package that is rarely found in a game today.
Considering the fact that many feel the Playstation 2 is on its last leg, Marvel Ultimate Alliance came around at the perfect time, proving that great games with amazing sound and good graphics are still available on the system. Fans of Raven’s older games will fall in love with Marvel Ultimate Alliance, while fans unfamiliar with the series will jump into the game with both feet.