Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Preview
At an Activision press event held a few weeks ago in New York City, we saw a number of games. Games that will probably outshine Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, but we'll try to prevent that from happening by telling you why you should pay attention to this upcoming sequel. Originally a PS3 launch game, the first MUA was plagued with issues on the PS3, most notably a really poor framerate that could only be cured when playing the game in 480p...which absolutely defeated the purpose of buying the PS3 version, when you could gain largely the same visual quality with the PS2 game and saving money in the process. But, it'll be three years soon and things have changed.
No longer is this Ultimate Alliance game plagued with...well, much of anything. This sequel felt superbly refined and I spent an awful lot of time holding on to the controller, largely ignoring nearly everything else Activision was showing off, except for the amazing DJ Hero. Ultimate Alliance 2 did everything right from the moment I picked it up. First of all, it ran at a super smooth framerate of 30, so there was no screen judder every time the camera moved around.
Second, but most importantly, is how the game played. In true Marvel fashion, intensity has been bumped up to really make the game and its battles feel more genuine and sport a certain character that really makes engaging in battle more enjoyable. This character trait is aided by Fusion Abilities, which are these massively powerful teamwork abilities that'll enable a temporary super attack, allowing you to cause some serious destruction with you and your teammates. Enabling a Fusion Ability is done by responding to a prompt on the screen, which will trigger the attack, and there are a total of 250 fusion combination.
Furthermore, characters are now unique and do not play remotely like anyone else. Two examples of this individuality include The Hulk and Gambit. The Hulk has the ability to pick up objects that are heavier than what the other mutants can lift. Meanwhile, when Gambit lifts something up, he'll naturally charge that object before throwing it - just as he would in real-life...errr, the comics. Other offensive maneuvers include an R2 button that acts as a modifier in conjunction with the face buttons - and when used, your character will perform a special attack (an optic blast, for example), as opposed to a melee attack.
In total, 24 characters will be found in the game out of the box, with many more to be made downloadable in the future, as Activision looks to expand the roster. There is also a strategy you can utilize, which involves picking the right mutants to work together for certain situations. But I doubt I'll ever use that to my advantage; I'm the type of guy who'll just pick his four favorites and carry on.
I had a ton of fun playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, and hope that Activision sends a preview build my way. Fans of the original, fans of top-down hack n' slash games, and fans of the Marvel universe, I highly urge you to mark your calendars for September 15th.
8/5/2009 Arnold Katayev