Smash, Rinse, Repeat
School is over for most, days are becoming longer and hotter, and superheroes are bombarding us from every direction. This can mean only one thing; summer is officially here. This season is always littered with big-budget superhero blockbusters and their typically rushed to market video game counterparts that try to cash in on their success. We’ve already gotten to experience this with Iron Man, a decent film with some fairly atrocious video game efforts in tow. While The Incredible Hulk doesn’t necessarily fit into this category, it is sure to make gamers who shell out sixty dollars for it quite angry.
For anyone who has played The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, you won’t find much new this time around. The only real differences come from more realistic looking graphics, a direct movie tie-in, and the ability to bring buildings crumbling to the streets. Because it is linked to the movie’s release, The Incredible Hulk delivers a less cartoony looking experience than that of Ultimate Destruction. The world you play in and the Hulk himself are now more representative of what you will see from his recent theatrical release. Although the game does look more realistic, sadly, the graphics are still far from incredible. Character animations severely lack variety, and there is an enormous amount of pop-in that constantly detracts from the visuals. This becomes particularly noticeable when bounding down the city’s streets. If you get a decent enough leap, you may actually see two or three waves of objects popping in by the time you finally land.
As a result of this game being based on the recently released film, players will get a glimpse of the film’s storyline as well as some big-name voice acting. Most notably, Edward Norton actually voices Bruce Banner in the game’s many cutscenes. Surprisingly enough, even with the tremendous amount of talent lending voices to the game, the dialogue is pretty boring and painful to listen to. Most lines are delivered as though the actors are heavily sedated and reading from a script. This robotic delivery often results in a story that is a complete afterthought to that of just smashing everything within reach to rubble.
Luckily for The Incredible Hulk, this part of the game initially feels somewhat entertaining. You will start the game with a very small arsenal of basic attacks. By completing random prerequisites, such as defeating a certain number of specific enemies, Hulk will begin to learn more powerful moves. Players will learn attacks like pounding the ground to damage multiple enemies or creating a makeshift pair of boxing gloves from passing vehicles. While there isn’t an immense variety in Hulk’s repertoire, the attacks you are given feel natural and useful in there own ways. The only major issue that persists during almost every encounter is Hulk’s horrible targeting feature. Whether you are trying to target a small, medium, or large foe, the game seems to delight in making it as frustrating as possible. Trying to lock onto a specific enemy is next to impossible, and even more general attempts at targeting are often completely ignored by the game.
Variety seems to be this green monster’s greatest weakness. The gameplay found in The Incredible Hulk is about as shallow as the water in a leaking bathtub. Within the first thirty minutes of this game you will be introduced to everything that the gameplay consists of. Almost every mission in this title has you attacking foes/buildings, picking up and carrying objects, running from one destination to another, or some combination of the three. Initially, it is incredibly satisfying to fly through the air, grabbing onto buildings, and launching foes into space with a well-placed punch, but then you realize that, sadly, this is it. Aside from the few mini-games that attempt to inject diversity into the gameplay with timed races and destruct-a-thons, all you are left with are the repetitive missions and whatever random, unsolicited violence you wish to create.
With all these problematic issues in the game, it should come as no surprise that Hulk is also host to some pretty bad bugs as well. I had the game freeze on me several times during the course of my first four hours of total playtime. This frequently happened in the middle of missions that had multiple objectives, almost causing me to turn green with rage. Another interesting bug shows itself whenever the Hulk lands in a pool of water. At first he begins to kick and flail while hovering on the water’s surface. Continuing his gyrations, he then leaps out of the water onto the ground, leaps a second time away from the water, pauses midair during the second jump, and then seemingly rewinds to his previous land-based location. While this may not frequently have any adverse effects, it looks completely ridiculous and pulls you further out of the experience.
Perhaps the only part of the game that comes close to meriting the “Incredible” in its title are its sound effects. The Hulk sounds exactly as you would expect the massive, rage-filled juggernaut to sound. Whether he is howling in anger, running directly through exploding rush hour traffic, or thunderously crash-landing from hundreds of feet in the air, the destructive symphony he creates is quite appealing. Twisting metal, explosions, and crumbling buildings provide the chorus that only further accentuates just how much damage you are inflicting on everything you happen to come into contact with.
To call The Incredible Hulk a bad game would be a bit too harsh. Instead, it is an aggravating, shallow, repetitive, buggy, and yet somehow moderately entertaining title. Hulk fans will most likely enjoy it for the sheer fact you can simply rampage through an open world with their favorite green tank. Unfortunately, this gets old almost as quickly as the incredibly monotonous missions and mini-games that make up the meat of this title’s gameplay. If you want a fun Incredible Hulk game, save yourself some money and find a copy of Ultimate Destruction. It may not be as visually appealing, but it is much cheaper and will still deliver a fairly similar brand of Hulk-created chaos.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.2 Graphics
While the Hulk himself looks fairly good, most of what is left seems generic. Randomly appearing vehicles and enemies only further detract from this game’s visuals. 3.0 Control
The Hulk controls adequately, save for the broken and often useless targeting system. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects in the game are great, but much of the dialogue ends up sounding like it is being delivered by a Vulcan on Valium. 2.4 Play Value
While it may initially be fun to smash everything in sight with the Hulk, it too quickly becomes as repetitive and boring as the game’s limited mission objectives. 2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.