|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||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: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
When the first X-Men Legends title hit, I remember thinking how awesome it would be if there was a title with the entire Marvel Universe. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one thinking this, since we finally received said concept near the beginning of the current generation of consoles. Even though it was nearly everything that fans had asked for, there was something missing from the first title.
The story, as good as it was, felt disconnected from the overall elements that made these characters epic when they got together in comics. Sure, there were elements from certain stories that we knew, but it always felt like a typical comic book video game coming up with its own story. As we know from past experiences, this is not always the best way to go. For this second outing of Ultimate Alliance those trappings aren't there. Instead, we receive a few storylines meshed together in more of a master stroke. Admittedly, when I first heard the basics of the storyline I was a little more than worried with how it would play out considering most fans and even people who were not entirely in the loop with this storyline would know the climax and end result before even pressing the start button.
The story piggy-backs on the concept of two, with a partial third, story archs, which works in favor of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. Beginning at the end of the Secret Wars mini-series, players will take control of four of the most currently prominent Marvel Universe characters - Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America. You are following orders from Nick Fury who has waged war on Latveria, after discovering Lucia von Bardas has been using the Tinkerer to arm certain tech-based villains with Dr. Doom's technology. The story briefly touches on whether Fury is in the right or not and, in true comic book fashion, things spiral out of control as a direct result of the actions of the heroes. The introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act begins to drive a wedge between certain heroes, and then the horrific tragedy of Stamford, Connecticut occurs. This incident, causing over 600 civilian deaths, ignites the public and the government to swing the SRA into full effect. However, the divide amongst the hero community wouldn't have been as strong if Captain America hadn't taken a stand against it and, let's face it, Captain America is always right.
The game's story wraps tightly with the end results of the Secret War, most of the Civil War, and dashes in some warped reality version of Secret Invasion throughout. It makes you decide what side you are on. This directly affects not only your own sense of morality, but also changes the way the rest of the game is played out. Choosing Cap's side will change the way you play certain missions: whether you will protect a convoy or destroy it; if you will ambush a friend or fight back a trap. Granted you can play back through to get the other side's missions, but the first time you can almost feel the pressure of choosing the "right side". It also makes all of those old Marvel banner ads of "Choose Your Side" seem to mean something.
The gameplay doesn't really change from which side you play though. Nor does it stray too far from the original title. Still present is the simplistic approach to the controls. Players will be doing the devastating hero moves within minutes, thanks in large part to the recharging power gauge. In the first title, players had to find blue power charge packs to get their heroes enough energy to perform their signature moves. This time they ditched that approach and it made the gameplay more enjoyable. Even though you can do each character's moves with the same controls, they are generally unique to that character - though there are strong similarities amongst projectile-based heroes and likewise with the hand to hand combat heroes. These effects will probably go unnoticed by most considering the amount of heroes you will be able to play as. Twenty-four playable characters in all with the likes of Gambit, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, and Deadpool to name a few. There has also been a promise of other characters becoming available as DLC down the line.
While there are a lot of similarities to the first title as far as combat is concerned, there is one noticeable difference, Fusions. This interesting gameplay mechanic was shown off near the game's debut. It was also, at one time, attached to the title of the game, with good reason too; this coupling of the heroes' powers gives players some of the most devastating attacks in the game. Each fusion plays to the characters' strengths no matter how you pair them. For example, if you pair up Jean Grey and Deadpool in a Fusion attack, Deadpool will throw grenades before he begins firing his semi-automatics randomly at enemies. While this is going on, Jean will use her telekinesis to throw the grenades a little further and cause more damage to the surrounding enemies. Her added TK attack even amplifies the damage from Deadpool's guns. This is why these all-powerful attacks are recommended during the boss battles.