Activision is pretty well known nowadays for making Marvel games that are like action, adventure and RPGs all rolled into one. You've got X-Men Legends and then X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, both of which pretty much have the same deal going on - you pick a team of four mutants out of a group of many, then you go from one location to another, beating up bad guys with your unique super powers, leveling up and acquiring new skills and items and just generally progressing through the storyline.
Well, Activision returns, only this time while the same forumla remains intact (is that however a good, or a bad thing?) you've got the choice to have a team of Marvel's most popular characters. From some of the X-Men, to Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Elektra, Deadpool the list goes on. It's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
Now, the word "Ultimate" doesn't mean it's part of the Ultimate franchise of Marvel (like Ultimate Spider-Man, for example). Some characters are based off the Ultimate designs and whatnot but in a sense the game is in its own 'universe'. We'll begin with the storyline, the erm, rather cheesy storyline at that. The infamous Dr Doom (Fantastic Four villain) has rounded up a bunch of super villains from all over the Marvel 'universe' to form the.. erm.. Masters of Evil organisation, in which he plans to pretty much take over and rule the world, and inevitably, the universe. Colonel Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D is attempting to counter this by setting up his own team of super heroes to go up against the Masters of Evil. In the game's cutscenes, the main characters of the storyline seem to be Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, and Wolverine, but alas, there are many characters to choose from, over twenty at that, each with their own pros, cons and superpowers.
The game controls are simple, but at first are somewhat complicated. Players move their characters with the analog stick on the nunchuck attachment and jump with the C button. Players can attack normally through two means, shaking the nunchuck, or simply tapping the A button. Players however must use the nunchuck in order to do certain attacks, such as lifting the nunchuck quickly to do an uppercut-related attack. What's most interesting about the Wii control scheme for Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is how quickly powers can be accessed because of the Wii-mote. Players use powers by holding the B-trigger of the Wii-mote and then either pressing A (thus using the 'equipped' power) or, by moving the Wii-mote in a certain motion. Moving it upward might make you use one power, while moving it side to side (note: while holding the B-trigger) will let you use another power. It's quite handy, and gives the player quick access to other powers without having to manually select/equip them in the first place.
Going back to superheroes, you've got alot to choose from. There's over twenty heroes plus you've got more to unlock throughout the game. Each hero has their own superpowers and skills to use in combat, which they can all obtain by leveling up. When a character levels up they have the option of increasing one of their skills, thus increasing damage, accuracy etc. Also, characters who are not involved in the fighting also level up, but at a slower rate than those who are in your party.
Also, because you've got a party of four super heroes, this enables the game to have additional players (multiplayer). Multiplayer is very fun, if you've got someone to play with in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance then that would be the best thing to do. The game is much better providing you have someone/some people to play with. Single player can be a bit boring and overall cumbersome, because you don't have as much strategy on your side nor can you exactly coordinate with your A.I allies.
The boss battles are quite different this time around, much more innovative then the previous Marvel-RPG style games (X-Men Legends I and II). Battles will require the players to do more than simply bash their opponent. Button consecutive moments may come into play but instead of buttons, it's movement of the Wii-mote. Note that not all boss battles are like this, battles where you encounter a regular super villain will be the simple 'bash him/her until he/she falls down', where as when you fight the rather large bosses of the game, Wii-mote consecutive moments will be a necessity to deal damage, or reveal weak points etc.
The overall graphics of the game vary, white the cinematic cutscenes are absolutely incredible and realistic. Some of the level designs look quite nice but at the same time can be somewhat clumsy and fairly dull, the character models look pretty good from afar but up close you can see how simple they really are.
The Wii-mote and nunchuck scheme however has some flaws, for example, camera control. The camera usually stays in one place but it is possible to change however, the method of doing so is also clumsy. The method involves tilting the nunchuck from side to side, which can be an accident prone in multiplayer, as if a player does not keep their nunchuck hand steady, they can end up whirling the camera all over the place. Shaking the nunchuck side to side is also a way to do stuff like accessing doors and computers (or simply pressing the Z-button) and again, this can become an annoyance because of accidental movement of the nunchuck. These small annoyances can cause some disruption during the game, especially during full fights.
The game is quite lengthly. On normal difficulty, it took my brother and I at least twenty hours to complete the game. There's plenty to unlock such as new characters and outfits for each characters, and funnily enough, outfits don't just change the appearance. Outfits (including the original/default outfits) are customisable, and can allow you to become more powerful in certain areas. It's almost as if the outfits are item pieces themselves. Once you've gone through normal difficulty, it'll be possible to go through on the hard difficulty and take your already leveled up characters through the game once more, just.. being much harder than the previous mode. In regards to the storyline, there's alot of dialog, and thankfully the voice acting is pretty good, although some of the character's accents may annoy some viewers.
Overall, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a pretty good game, worthy of anyone's collection who may be looking for an RPG-style game to play. The game is lengthly with some good content, and contains many different super heroes to play as, so replayability is available. Marvel fans should also definetly get a good kick out of this game, providing they got someone to play with. The fairly cheesy and really 'out there' storyline may not be appreciated by some gamers, but as said before - "Marvel fans should also definetly get a good kick out of this game". Aside from small annoyances such as the occasional mediocre graphics and annoying Wii-mote schemes, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is suprisingly a good game.
Throw a shield into someone's face? Or a set of claws instead? You decide.