Late To The Xbox Live Party: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

To give you an idea as to how slow I am when it comes to finishing video games, I got Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for Christmas last year and just finished it last night. There was many-month gap there were I didn’t even both playing it for a few reasons. First off, I had trouble with the save aspect of the game and wound up having to play the same level several times even though I thought I had reached a save point. Even after that I had a little trouble with the save/load menus because they give you two options that seem to be the same thing: load and continue. What’s the damn difference? I never quite figured that out. My other problem was that I loved the original game and this one didn’t come anywhere near that one for several reasons which I’ll get into shortly.

When the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out, I was working at Wizard. Though I had gotten there a little late for the epic Halo 2 marathons that I still hear about now from a few folks, the game makers sent a special Xbox 360 to the office and allowed us to play an advanced copy of the game which was such a fun experience. Tons of huge comic book fans all in one room surrounding a TV and cheering on their friends and coworkers beating up on various Marvel minions was so much fun and, of course, jumping in and playing ourselves, was great. That game spanned the breadth and depth of the Marvel Universe and really gave us a lot to have fun with. Eventually we had to send the 360 back, but after the game officially came out, Activision sent a bunch of copies to the office and I got to play through on my own. I had fun with the game even though it was pretty much the same kind of game as X-Men Legacy.

So, as you can tell, I had high hopes for the sequel. I was also hoping to play online with some friends, but I didn’t really push the issue too much (the one time I get a new game around the time it comes out and no one else is playing it!). The story of the game kind of follows the story behind Civil War, but actually has a more sensible ending and wasn’t nearly as meandering as the actual comic book story. That’s about all of the good things I have to say about the game. I mean, it wasn’t bad. I had a good enough time beating up on the never-ending parade of goons to fight, but I had a LOT of problems with it.

First off, video games starring superheroes should start off more powerful right off the bat in games like this. I understand that there need to be elements that can be upgraded as the game goes on, but it felt like if you weren’t playing one group of characters for most of the game, you’d be kind of screwed by the end of the game. Basically what I’m saying is that the Thing should never get killed in four seconds of any battle and that happened to me a number of times later on in the game. Leveling characters up is cool, but having to do so to survive later sections of the game takes a lot of the fun out of the whole endeavor. They give you all these awesome characters to play with, but you’re more rewarded for keeping the same team throughout the game. I got Venom and Green Goblin pretty late in the game and wanted to play with them, but they were so weak that it wasn’t worth it, they also didn’t have all their powers. I will claim ignorance and blame a little of that problem on myself because I forgot about the upgrade mechanics until just before I finished the game, but still, I’d rather just have powers that kick ass and go from there. The characters you’re given to play with also don’t seem powerful enough to play the game. I mean, I love Iron Fist and Gambit, but they’re not the guys I would recruit if I was fighting a supposedly world threatening enemy.

My other big problem with the game was how small it felt compared to the previous one. In MUA you went from Hell to Asgard and just about everywhere in between. This time around you go to Wakanda and Latveria. Woopdeedo. I know it’s hard to top such a huge story but fighting some heroes and villains who have been overtaken by Nanites really isn’t the way to do it. The lack of scope spread to the game’s end too. Anyone who played the first one will remember that, as you went through the game, there were a series of choices you had to make, whether to save this character or that and at the end of the game you were given a big overview as to how your decisions changed the entire Marvel Universe. This time around there was none of that.

All in all, I’m not sure what the point of making this game was as it turned out to be a huge disappointment both because it didn’t live up to expectations but also because, at the end of the day, it’s just another game like a bunch of other games that didn’t improve on anything. I finished and really just thought to myself, “What was the point?”

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