Perhaps comic book games aren't as dead as we thought.

User Rating: 8.6 | The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction XBOX
Comic book games always get such a bad rap these days, and for the most part deservedly so. With the influx of movies based on comics over the past few years, game developers have been quick to lap up the available properties and pretty much just exploit them for the money. The driving force is a quick buck, and not the gameplay that fans of the books and/or movies are looking for. Irrespective of how good or bad the film was (whether you're talking Spiderman 2 or Fantastic Four or whatever), the game still has a fighting chance. Where the film failed, the game could succeed. For most of them however, this isn't the case, and the games fall flat. And it's so disappointing. The first Hulk game, based on the Ang Lee movie, was bad. I found it to be initially satisfying to smash things, but it got old very, very quickly. And come on, the Banner stealth sequences? Give me a break, they were awful with a capital SUCK. The first game was so uninspired (pretty much like the film then, huh?) and so painfully linear that it was simply a substandard, by-the-numbers action game with a green chap thrown in. And the novelty of being the Hulk was drowned out by the fact that almost all the enemies were Gamma-radiated mutants as well - isn't the Hulk's condition supposed to be singular, or achingly rare at best? How come every pooch and goon you see has the same Gamma thing going on? Bad, bad, bad. But if you're still reading this (and kudos to you), I'm happy to report that The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is as far removed from the first game as it's possible to be. And given that both games were made by the same studio, it's all the more surprising. The popular 'sandbox' set up that most people (myself heartily included) have grown to love fits the Green Meanie like an oversized glove. The freedom to move where you want, however you want and smashing literally anything that might stand in your way is so satisfying you'll wonder if you yourself haven't recently taken a Gamma bath. The game succeeds in one small but significant detail - you feel like you are the Hulk. The graphics are very well done, although some sacrifices had to be made - the variety of vehicles on the streets are incredibly limited, for example. But then since you're only going to smash them anyways, why do you need dozens of different ones? The destruction animations are great, and pretty much anything you see can be brought crashing down or sent up in flames. I would have liked to have seen the wall running mechanics tweaked a little to take into account gravity a bit more. If you run up the side of a building (which is fun as hell, by the way), then you'll slow down a little the further you go, but no planetary forces make you fall off when your momentum drops. But still, coupling the wall running with the Hulk's remarkable jumping abilities, and you'll be off the ground almost as much as Spiderman. The missions aren't as varied as perhaps they could have been, but you always have the option to free roam and tackle some of the side missions and challenges whenever you like, which splits up the playtime nicely. Heck, just running around and breaking things with a club made from a telephone pole satiates any need you might have for variety. It's one of those things that will take a long time to get old, simply because of how fun it is on a base level. The dialogue is a bit cheesy, and the story line isn't quite of the best caliber (although it surpasses the film and previous game by leaps and bounds), but this is solved competently by the vocal delivery – Ron Perlman, as always, is excellent. With the huge amount of unlockable content to please both gamers and hardcore comic fans, some subtle nods to a few obscure events and characters from the comics, and the basic, sheer thrill of smashing entire fleets of cars, buses, helicopters, military vehicles and a whole lot more, there's a lot of replay value to be had. I was a skeptic when I handed over my money for this game, and I sorely wanted it to be good. Better than good. I really needed The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction to help restore a little of my lost faith in comic book games. And it did. In debris scattered leaps and bounds.