Slappin' on the spandex skivvies.
Yes, true believers, the humongously hyped sequel to one of the most unique action RPG series to ever grace the Marvel moniker is back. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 brings all the good things from its previous incarnation back along with a few new and interesting techniques to spice things up. Unfortunately, it also comes back with a few of the same glitches that have plagued the game.
[image1]As I said in my preview, the game follows a rehashed version of Marvel Comics Civil War crossover. Some liberties have been taken, a few things tweaked here and there, to make it flow more with the pacing of a video game. It still feels faithful to plot of the comics, though. Only the most hardcore of super-nerds are going to find anything to complain about here, which is why I’m going to forgive them for having both Daredevil and Iron Fist appear in the game despite the fact that Matt Murdock was in jail during Civil War and Danny Rand was running around as DD instead of the Fist (can I have my no-prize now?).
The character roster is definitely the best out of all the games and is sure to please whether you are an X-Men fanboy or, for some reason, can’t get enough of the Avengers. You can blow shit up while making smarmy remarks as Deadpool, get your '70s Kung-Fu/Blacksploitation funk on with the Heroes for Hire (Luke Cage and Iron Fist), and smash things as the Hulk, and oh, there's some guy called Wolverine whom I’ve never heard of...
Combat remains much the same. It’s more of the button-mashing super-powered clusterfuck that is both its strongest and weakest selling point. It’s still fun as hell, but it's still very easy to lose track of where you are on the screen. The new ability to get a quick reference as to which direction your objective is in works well for finding your wayward player (the arrow appears underneath your character), but it can still be difficult to figure out just what the hell is going on in larger brawls.
[image2]The one major change to the flow of combat is the addition of the fusion system. Essentially, every character has a unique super-combo that can be pulled off with another character. These look rather flashy and can clear a room quicker than a gassy Rush Limbaugh after a night of beer and tacos. While each fusion offers a unique animation depending on whom you’re using, you are still limited to four core types, which means you will see basically all of the fusions after using them a handful of times. A few extra-special fusions when using specific duos (say, the Heroes of Hire) would’ve been nice, but as it stands, it’s still better than a lot of "Jazz fusion" I had to listen to for my music appreciation classes in college and it's much more deadly.
One thing I’ve always liked about this series is that no matter who you decide to play as, everyone levels up. For the most part, the game will handle all the upgrading for you, but if you decide you want more of a hands-on customization, you can tweak skills and abilities as you see fit so as not to be punished for never taking a certain Canadian berserker out of your party.
[image3]Like I said, though, some of the old problems still exist, most notably the issues with the camera angles. I don’t know if there’s actually a decent solution to this issue; I guess it’s just one of those odd compromises you have to make. In any relationship you gotta take the good with the bad. Still, it doesn’t mean it’s not annoying.
Although Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 still carries some of the sins of the father, it is definitely making the kinds of improvements that you would want to see in a beat-'em-up/RPG hybrid. As it stands, the experience is enjoyable and addicting. I know this because I’ve been spending all my free time playing it instead of writing my review (sorry for the delay). If you enjoyed the last UA or are curious to see what all the hype is about, I definitely recommend you check it out.