Marvel Ultimate Alliance II

by Micah Kolding

Publisher: Activision

Spider-man, Deadpool, Blade, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four... even Daredevil, for some reason! All of these and more are back as the Ultimate Alliance of Marvel superheros is rent asunder, dissolved into warring factions as a congressional call for superhero registration drives a wedge into the masked community. With Iron Man leading the loyalists and Captain America heading up the criminalized anti-registration heroes, you are faced with choosing a side and muscling through their differences before a far greater threat can take advantage of the crumbling alliance that once was.

In the style of the original game and the X-Men Legends franchise from last generation, Ultimate Alliance 2 puts you in charge of selecting and controlling a party of four superheros, switching freely between them in single player or teaming up with the multiplayer option. The heroes level up, gaining better stats and allowing you to upgrade their various powers, as you take them through the series of missions that make up the linear storyline. It's a fairly straightforward game, mostly consisting of fighting the little guys until you need to fight the big guys, but the wide selection of characters and powers to choose from makes the game engaging enough to stay interesting.  You can go from the Hulk, who can pick up most enemies and use them to bludgeon other enemies, to Jean Grey, who can telekinetically hurl enemies about while flying high above their heads, to the Invisible Woman, who can freaking turn herself invisible, to Daredevil, for some reason. Further, the game offers a series of bonus missions that offer a level of challenge and innovation you might not see in the normal missions, most of which stand to reward you with bonus characters like Gambit, Venom, or the Green Goblin.

The game's main fault is its plot. The schism of the superhero community lasts for a surprisingly short duration, sacrificing a fairly interesting dynamic in favor of a stock and rather unengaging "bad guy taking over the world for whatever reason" hook. Further, while delving into the esoteric depths of the Marvel universe may be fun for the truly dedicated devotee, others may find encounters with lesser-known names like Pennance and Radioactive Man (really) no more special than a common, not-too-innovative level boss.

Still, Ultimate Alliance 2 is worth a play-through.  Whether you want to set aside some clobbering time, do whatever a spider does, or do whatever Daredevil does, for some reason, there's really not any better alternative.  So buy it if you're a devout follower of all that is Marvel, rent it if you have no idea who Songbird is, and keep those games spinning.

Our Score: 7 out of 10


About the author:

Micah Kolding is a teacher, writer, and cartoonist from Davis, California. His sharp and satiric edge has appeared in the likes of The California Aggie and The Sacramento Book Review, as well as on stage.


copyright 2006