The X-Men Legends series mutates further.
The X-Men Legends series has given comic fans a treat for the last couple of years. The dungeon crawler RPG series featuring Marvel’s favorite mutants has been popular for the pure unadulterated fun of destroying foes as the X-men. Now, almost inevitably, the series has evolved to include the rest of the Marvel Universe, including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and a few solo agents.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance takes the formula that X-men Legends made famous and improves upon it vastly. The first difference that the player will notice is that Raven has finally eschewed the cartoonish cel-shading approach in favor of a more realistic look. Visually, everything has been overhauled from the character models to the environments. It’s difficult to fully appreciate it with the overhead perspective, but it is undeniable that the game is much easier on the eyes than its predecessors. Especially noteworthy are the fire and energy effects, which definitely have a next gen look.
Raven has also improved the interactivity of the characters. In the X-men Legends games, players could basically attack and throw enemies. In MUA, you can grab a foe, punch him repeatedly with strong or weak attacks, steal weapons from them, and even attack them while they are floored. In addition to this, there are character specific attacks, such as Spidey webbing a foe from the ceiling or Colossus using foes as weapons. The one downside to this is that some grab moves are overpowered and would discourage regular attacks, such as Luke Cage’s ability to repeatedly face pound foes, an attack that the average enemy can’t survive. Also, the weapons are incredibly overpowered, as a stolen sword will kill an enemy much faster than Wolverine’s claws or Thor’s hammer.
MUA also has changed the way that powers and health are handled. Instead of finding and using health and energy potions, the player can find red and blue orbs that refill health and energy respectively. These orbs appear when enemies are defeated or when objects are smashed, and the orbs automatically go to the player who found them. If that hero’s meter is already filled, the energy or health goes to the hero who needs it most. This is a nice touch and takes away some of the micromanagement of health and energy that the Legends game had. Also, powers and health aren’t drained quite as quickly as they were in the Legends games. This allows the players to use powers more, which increases the fun factor. Also, characters that can fly can now do so without any energy penalty. Storm, Thor, The Human Torch, Ms. Marvel, etc. can fly for as long as they wish and it doesn’t affect their energy meter. Other characters can use their own method of transportation, like Spidey’s web-slinging, Deadpool’s teleportation, and Iceman’s Ice Slide (which curiously and unfortunately, must be unlocked).