Hulk Review

Ben Silverman
Hulk Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • N/A

Publisher

  • Vivendi

Developer

  • Vivendi

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • GameCube
  • PC
  • PS2
  • Xbox

rating

It ain’t easy being green.

As we struggle to keep up with the lightning-fast progress of modern technology,

as our relationships buckle under the weight of countless self-help books, as

our lives get more and more complex each passing day, you have to admire simplicity.

And as superheroes go, it doesn’t get simpler than The Hulk, whose entire thought

process, daily business and reason for living can be summed up in just two words.

Hulk Smash.

I mean,

even Hulk nemesis The

Thing’s ‘It’s clobberin’ time!’ contains a conjunction and a multisyllabic

word. But The Hulk just wants to smash, and for that the big guy earns a top

spot next to Solomon

Grundy on my Favorite Dumb Superhero list.

So

it

goes

that

The

Hulk

game

(technically

just

called

Hulk)

is

a

study

in

simplicity.

You’re

The

Hulk,

and

you

smash,

and

then

you

smash

more,

and

then

you

might

grab

a

drink,

but

then

you’ll

be

back

to

smashing

in

no

time.

For

the

most

part,

it

nails

the

concept

well.

The

thing

is,

gamers

sometimes

want

to

do

more

than

just

smash

things,

and

while

the

carnage

is

prodigious,

the

game

is

repetitive

and

a

little

boring.

Though released only a few weeks before the film, the game takes place one

year after the events in the movie. Your friend Dr. Crawford has turned traitor

after promising to cure you of your gamma poisoning, instead stealing some of

your power, sealing it in a Gamma Orb, turning into a sort of mini-Hulk and

creating an army of mutants. You set off to straighten out the mess, ultimately

clashing with the mysterious Leader behind the shenanigans. It might not be

as compelling as the comics or the television show

(which changed Banner’s first name from Bruce to David, oddly), but it’s a decent

enough backdrop.

You play as the not-so-jolly green giant for most of the game’s 25 levels,

stomping from linear mission to linear mission, absolutely obliterating everything

you see. Enemy guards? Hulk smash! Doorway made for normal-sized person? Hulk

smash! Piping, windows, cars, oil barrels, gun turrets and helicopters? Hulk

smash! Hulk smash!

All this smashing is accomplished by a different kind of smashing, called

“button-smashing.” Though the game gives you a few combos and a nifty long-range

handclap, you’ll do just fine punching and kicking idiotic enemies until they

stop moving. You can pick up all kinds of things to use as effective bludgeoning

tools, but it’s still just a smashfest. Though you’ll see things like “Brutal!”

and “Enraged!” flash across the screen when you string together some hits, they

only exist to tell you that you’re being “Brutal!” and that you’re “Enraged!”

Along with the typical health bar, Hulk has a Rage meter that increases as

he takes damage, inflicts damage or picks up flashing Rage orbs. Fill up the

meter and Hulk can perform one of only two uber smash moves that – you guessed

it – lead to increased smashitude. More moves and depth here would have been

great.

Presumably to break up the flow, several levels force you to play as wimpy Hulk host Bruce Banner, who is about as intimidating as an unripe banana. The Banner levels require stealth gameplay, but fail to offer any of the staples like wall hugging, leaning around corners or even a little enemy light-of-sight indicator. Instead, you crouch when you have to sneak by something or run like hell when no one is looking. You can also punch and grapple, but this rarely does any good.

It’s also

rarely done easily thanks to a terrible camera, which is placed in fixed locations

and cannot be manipulated at all. This leads to occasional directional goofs

as well as the usual object obstructions. It’s not as bad during Hulk levels,

at least.

Every

so

often

you’ll

have

to

open

a

door

or

something,

which

usually

requires

the

exact

same

letter-shifting

puzzle.

Oh

sure,

the

letters

change,

but

there’s

only

one

kind

of

puzzle.

Weak.

They validate these awful Banner levels by coming up with odd reason why you

can’t turn into The Hulk – you’re too weak, there’s electrical interference,

you left your Hulk soda in the car,

etc. – so it boils down to a lot of trial and error and trips to the bar for

a beer. Seems like it would have worked much better had they encouraged you

to TRY to turn into The Hulk more often, since no one wants to play as a 50-pound

scientist.

But for the most part, you won’t have to, as most of the game’s main Story

mode is spent as the Jade Giant. Progressing through this will open up Time

and Endurance options in Challenge Mode, as well as the aptly named Hulk Smash

in which you in fact Hulk Smash all over the place. You can also unlock goodies

including movie art, making-of FMV and cheats.

I think the new Hulk looks like a beefed-up version of Jim

Carrey in Dumb & Dumber, so I’m not really thrilled with the modeling.

However, the overall graphical style is pretty cool, featuring a sort of watercolor

texture effect, plenty of big explosions and a steady framerate on all systems.

The Xbox version runs a bit smoother than the other two, but the three games

are otherwise identical.

Coolest of all is the fact that the game environments fall apart beautifully,

the perfect canvas for your smashing behavior. You’ll bash all kinds of objects,

which react fairly realistically thanks to a good physics engine. You can smash

piping off a wall, then use it as a club. Whack a guy with a car. Walls and

floors crack and crumble as you hammer them with your fists and feet. The sense

of destructive power is palpable and really drives the game along.

It all sounds okay thanks to adequate effects, though the music grows annoying and the voices (Banner’s is handled by the film’s Eric Bana) grow tiresome and redundant.

And

sadly,

so

does

the

game.

While

it

genuinely

makes

you

feel

like

The

Hulk

(more

than

I

can

say

for

recent

comic

book

duds

X2:

Wolverine’s

Revenge


and

the

shameful

Batman:

Dark

Tomorrow
),

it

doesn’t

make

you

feel

much

like

playing

once

you’ve

gotten

through

the

Story

mode,

which

should

take

you

all

of

about

two

days.

For

that

matter,

the

bad

enemy

AI,

poor

enemy

variety

and

extreme

linearity

makes

it

hard

to

want

to

play

any

of

the

levels

more

than

once.

In

the

case

of

the

Banner

levels,

you

won’t

want

to

play

them

at

all.

But

that

shouldn’t

stop

fans

from

giving

Hulk

a

spin

as

a

weekend

rental.

The

constant

smashing

is

actually

pretty

fun

for

a

while.

Just

don’t

drop

any

green

on

this

green

giant,

or

you

might

wind

up

smashing

your

TV.

 

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating4
Hulk smash!
Hulk pretty!
You feel like Hulk!
Banner stupid! Me hate Banner!
Hulk enemies stupid, too!
Hulk finish already?
Hulk still smash!
Hulk need hug