|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: n-Space||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Character customization and role-play elements are very limited, however, and "ultimately" the game boils down to being a simplified brawler. Missions quickly become a grind, mired further by visuals that have a significant, negative effect on gameplay. Muddy textures and archaic visual effects are unsightly to be sure, but the framerate labors desperately throughout the whole of the adventure. Being unable to distinguish your heroes from their enemies becomes routine, and the camera often flips wildly, causing you to completely lose your sense of direction.
Perhaps the worst offense of Alliance 2 is the incredibly buggy state in which the game shipped. We literally spent hours combing levels for new objectives only to discover that, by some glitch or malfunction, the objectives were never actually assigned for a particular mission, even though we'd completed the necessary tasks. So, after time wasted searching for some way to progress, we would be forced to reload and redo entire missions. Character models regularly appear through walls, and though it can be mildly entertaining to watch your allies convulse spastically when stuck in parts of a level, these aren't the sorts of additions most folks look for when sitting down to enjoy their favorite comic book superheroes.
In addition to bugs and flubs, the game hasn't been optimized well at all. Loads and saves can take up to a full minute or two, and the screen will often be completely blank during these waiting periods. Assigning stars to your heroes' abilities is a fairly straightforward process, but you'll have to endure more load screens each time you enter or exit the menu. Alliance 2 on PS2 is an ugly, irritating mess of a game.
Even without these blemishes, the gameplay still wouldn't be compelling enough to inspire most folks to trudge through to the end. You'll be doing mostly the same things throughout each mission, and objectives are either too easy or too hard due solely to technical issues inherent in the game's design. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 either wants to hold your hand the entire time, or it will demand that you push blindly forward for hours, meandering without reason. There is an option to play two-player co-op, but you'd only be inviting someone to suffer through the experience with you.
Adding bitter insult to the game's epic injuries is a presentation utterly unworthy of the Marvel name. Character models are passable, and some of the animations are admittedly fun to watch. Most times, however, your heroes move about with a jerky gait. The environments occasionally look presentable, but on the whole, Alliance 2 is a very unattractive game. This isn't due to limitations of the hardware, either. When compared to its contemporaries on the system, it's a production that simply doesn't come close to cutting the mustard.
The aural compliments, surprisingly, aren't too bad, though loops are short and repetitive. Some themes swell with great emotion, temporarily inspiring you to overlook the game's many shortcomings and fight the good fight. Sound effects are barely serviceable, however, and though the voice work is well delivered, none of the audio comes through with great fidelity.
The first Ultimate Alliance seemed to strike a chord with many Marvel fans, and an action RPG starring your favorite heroes sure does seem like a great idea for a game. Other systems may have fared better with the sequel, but folks hoping to milk the PS2 for one more foray into the Marvel universe are in for a very rude awakening. Alliance 2 is buggy, it's ugly, and the gameplay is repetitive and frustrating. Combat can be mildly entertaining for a short while, and there is a neat selection of superpowers to tinker with. In the end, though, the game's problems are piled sky high, making it simply too frustrating to be worth bothering with.
CCC Freelance Writer