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    Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 – I’ve Seen It, and It’s Awesome

    By | June 5th, 2009
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    So, as most people know, I did not do a lot of work this week due to the fact that I was at E3 on the IGN company dime, playing games and writing articles. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but the very first game I saw when I got to E3 was Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 in a small, closed door presentation from Activision. If the title wasn’t indication enough, I just have to say that the game looks absolutely amazing.

    We got a full 15 minute demo of three of the opening parts of the game, and I’m going to go in detail as to what I got to see in hopes to entice some of you and make the rest of you jealous. The demo opened up in Latveria. We had The Hulk, Venom, Wolverine and Iron Man, as well as Nick Fury following us as an NPC. The level took after the events of Secret War, in which Nick Fury sends a team in to Latveria without any kind of permission in order to pre-empt an attack with WMDs. In this short part, we got to see some of the fusion attacks M:UA2 was bragging about, and while at first I was a bit skeptical about them, seeing them in action is really amazing. To pull off a fusion attack is incredibly simple: it’s just like performing any given mutant attack, except in this, the other characters in your party become the ability actions, so if you’re using Venom and want to do a fusion attack with Iron Man, all you have to do is hit the corresponding action button attached to Iron Man. In one instance of the demo, you needed to use the Hulk to combine an attack with Wolverine similar to the “Fastball Special” in order to take out a helicopter. The amazing thing about it is you can combine any two characters for a fusion attack, so there are a lot of crazy options for attacks. Another fusion attack shown off was Iron Man and Wolverine. Iron Man shoots a concentrated beam at Wolverine who deflects all the attacks with his claws.

    In the second half of the demo, we were given a full on boss fight against none other than the Terrible Tinkerer! While I laughed at first at his inclusion, I found he actually made for a somewhat formidable foe. Not only that, but this part of the demo really showed the new graphical capabilities of the game. In the previous game, you couldn’t have too many enemies on the screen at one time for fear of overloading the engine, but in this demo, the Tinkerer sent hundreds of robots against us to stop us. The screen was practically filled with these robotic foes but there was no sign of strain on the performance. We had a new team now comprised of Thor (Ragnarok?), Human Torch, and Deadpool, and using these characters we mowed down hundreds of bots before taking on the Tinkerer himself… or at least, what I assume is the Tinkerer. It was a giant robot with the Tinkerer’s face on it, similar to how you fought Arcade in the first game. We tried out some more fusions, such as a firey tornado attack between Human Torch and Thor, and a fusion between Deadpool and Thor in which Thor created a tornado and Deadpool threw grenades into it. It was quite impressive, and I can’t wait to try it out myself.

    One thing to note before I discuss the final level is that in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2: Activision wants to remind gamers that at it’s core it’s a role playing game, but they don’t want to take away from the action. That’s why in this game, you aren’t going to need to pause to enter a menu anymore. Now, in the same part of the screen where you see your roster, you can replace it with your menu and customize your characters while the game keeps going. Your characters will actually keep playing while you go idle and update. You don’t have to do this, but it certainly is a great way to keep the game moving forward. I always liked taking a break and customizing my characters attacks with upgrades, but I can see why some people might find this task tedious, especially if they bought it as an action game and don’t care much about the role playing aspect.

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    The final part of the demo moves to Washington DC, some time before the incident in Connecticut that starts the Civil War. Our team now has Juggernaut and Songbird on it, and they were the two main points of fusion. Songbird uses her powers to create a psionic bubble around Juggernaut that is covered in spikes, and the player then controls Juggernaut as he runs around demolishing everything in his path. This part of the demo really showed off the playability of the world as almost everything was destroyed, proving that this time around the environment is much more interactive. There is more to pick up than just tubs and boxes. You’ll be able to pick up park benches and cars and hurl them at your foes. As this was the conclusion of the demo, they teased us with the boss fight here, and it surely shocked everyone. The boss was none other than the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool! What?! You just had him on your team five minutes ago! The dialogue for his opening scene was pretty amazing though. Through out the level you are protecting downed SHIELD agents, and at the last second when you think everything is ok, Deadpool teleports in and starts punching people out. All the while, what is he talking about? Flowers. Apparently, Deadpool had come to Washington DC to attend some kind of annual flower festival, and he is sick and tired of people judging him. After punching out two characters, Deadpool looks right at the player and says, “You! I can tell you’re judging me with your eyes! Well, guess what? It’s time for a BOSS BATTLE!!!!” and starts firing his guns in the air.

    The demo ended here, but it was highly impressive and much better looking than the first game. The graphics have really had quite an over haul, and as we saw the characters up close, there were lots of impressive little details thrown in in the costumes to make them look more practical. Some of the character roster was blacked out so we couldn’t see all of the secret characters, but after the presentation I talked to one of the Activision developers. In the trailer I’m posting below, you might notice in the background that Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, appears in the background with Captain America. I got incredibly excited when I saw this and couldn’t help but ask if Multiple Man was a playable character. He told me that while unfortunately Multiple Man isn’t playable, there are characters seen in that trailer who haven’t yet been announced as playable who are playable. So who could he mean? My guess is Incredible Hercules. Of course, I completely forgot to ask about why they didn’t continue with the Galactus plot from the first game, but you’ll have to excuse me on that one considering I had a big fan boy freak out moment when they told me I’d get to meet Stan Lee (which I did, and which was an awesome moment for me).

    All in all, the demo left me wanting more. I’ve played Marvel: Ultimate Alliance probably 20 times through, doing every little thing I could possibly do on my own. I’m only missing 4 achievements on the Xbox 360, but those are mostly because I need to play with friends, and friends with the game is something I’m lacking. However, you can be sure that on Monday, as I’m driving home from work I will most definitely pre-order this game as that is the only way to get Juggernaut. This game stands to be absolutely awesome for a Marvel fanboy such as myself, and I can only hope that people buy it so I have more people to play this game with. It’s going to be awesome.

    Edit: I found online a guy at Activision giving a demonstration on M:UA2 over at E3, and they show some of the demo that I saw, including the entire Deadpool boss battle which I didn’t get to see. It’s a 20 minute video, but it’s great, and you can learn a lot about the game from watching it (DLC characters!):

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    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."