|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 Amanda L. Kondolojy
September 4, 2009 - The house of Marvel has released some iconic characters in the past few decades, from Spider-Man and Iron Man to the X-Men and Captain America. With so many adored characters, Marvel Universe crossovers have been a regular occurrence and have been delighting fans for decades. However, no crossover has gotten fans as worked up as the recent Civil Wars series, which just so happens to be the inspiration for Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, the much anticipated follow up to 2006's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
The basic gist of the Civil War series revolves around superhero registration legislation introduced by the government. On one side of the argument you have Iron Man (AKA Tony Stark), who is all for superhero registration and thinks that extraordinarily powerful humans need to be registered so they don't see themselves as "above the law" and can't become a threat to others. Captain America, however, leads the other side and insists that heroes need to maintain their anonymity. Each of these leaders gains comrades, and what ensues is nothing short of - you guessed it - civil war.
We recently got to play through the first half hour or so of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, and I can confidently say that if you liked the first game, then you are going to love the second entry. The game starts off with the prologue to the Civil War crossover series, which fans may know as the Secret War. SHIELD boss man Nick Fury has uncovered a plot by several leading villains to attack the U.S. When the U.S. fails to give Fury its permission to perform a tactical strike on a popular enemy hideout spot, Latveria, he decides to round up the troops and take care of business anyway.
The levels themselves look very clean and polished, and there are plenty of elements with which to interact. Our party of four was only attacked by seven or eight enemies at a time, but we were assured that there would be more enemies later on in the game. On my first go-round, I was able to play through the beginning of the game as Iron Man, who thanks to his super-special suit, can pick up minivans and hurl them at large groups of enemies. However, although Iron Man is one of a very select few characters that can pick up large objects, this special power is balanced by Iron Man's slower reaction time and less impactful blows. The second time around, I played as Daredevil, who couldn't pick up huge cars, but had a quick attack rate and strong physical attacks.
The combat is very similar to that of the first game, and you'll be able to walk through expansive (but mostly linear) areas where enemies will approach your party, and you can dispatch them with a variety of physical and environmental attacks. These attacks are executed with fairly simple button presses, but as you level the character up, you can unlock combos and higher-powered attacks. In addition to the regular character attacks, your team will also be able to perform special group attacks that pairs two characters together and uses both of their power to unleash a devastating super-attack.
Another aspect of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 that is back from the original is its focus on teamwork. The game encourages you to play with a team of up to four heroes, whether locally or online. The multiplayer component of the game has been streamlined, however. As different characters level up, you can allocate their experience points via a sidebar menu instead of needing to exit the game altogether and holding up your party's progression.
As far as characters are concerned, there will be 24 playable characters in total, including plenty of old favorites like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Iron Man. There are also some new surprising characters that will be making an appearance in the game including Gambit, Ms. Marvel, and the Civil War exclusive character, Penance. It was also announced recently that Iceman will be available as well.
The original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was an excellent crossover game and featured plenty of fun beat 'em up style gameplay. Although the core formula is still the same for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, it's just as enjoyable now as it was then. The addition of one of the most dramatic (not to mention controversial) story arcs in Marvel's history is a serious boon for this title, making it that much more of a must-buy for comic fans. Even if you have never experienced the Civil War storyline, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 will give you a great reason to jump in and see what all the fuss is about!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor