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A Marvelous New Alliance

Vicarious Visions is taking the reins on this darker sequel to Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

Cleaning up the mean streets of Latveria.
Raven Software's 2006 action RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance was nothing short of a love letter to fans of Marvel Comics, a big summer crossover event in video-game form. It took the basic framework of the X-Men: Legends games, and extended it to virtually every corner of the Marvel Universe, from Asgard to the Skrull homeworld. Many of the heavy-hitters of the Marvel Universe, both heroic and villainous, played some roll in the story, though there was also plenty of room for lesser-known fan-favorites and downright obscure cameos. 

Perhaps most impressively, MUA was able to honor the source material while delivering a fun, action-packed game experience, with accessible and satisfying combat backed up by solid character-advancement and team-based systems. For me personally, it's probably the most enjoyable comic-based video game I've ever played. Needless to say, my expectations for the sequel are quite high. I got to see Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 in action for the first time on the Xbox 360 during GDC last week, and it seems intent on delivering as big and explosive an experience as its predecessor, though it's definitely going about it in a different way.

Since Raven's busy testing the limits of how gory a Marvel-licensed game can be with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vicarious Visions is handling development duties on MUA2. Vicarious Visions doesn't have quite the same development track record as Raven, but it's certainly familiar with the franchise, having worked on the Wii and PSP ports of the original, in addition to building the Alchemy Engine that powered MUA. Unsurprisingly, with a new creative team comes a new creative direction for the series. 

Songbird and Iron Man are plenty effective on their own...
While MUA2 will acknowledge the apparent demise of Doctor Doom at the end of MUA, it won't be following the cosmic story line that was hinted at, much to my chagrin. (What can I say? I love Galactus and all that goofy Ditko cosmic stuff.) Instead it will take its cues primarily from the Civil War story arc, a huge comic-book crossover event that took place a few years, the repercussions of which are still being felt in the Marvel Universe today. MUA2 will take a few liberties with some of the specifics, but the basic idea of the US government passing the Super-Human Registration Act and the divide that created between heroes that are pro- and anti-registration will remain the same. 

The Civil War won't just be window-dressing, either. No real specifics were given, but at a point in the game, you'll actually have to choose which side of the conflict you stand on, which will have a significant effect on how the rest of the game will play out. The decision to focus on the Civil War storyline seems indicative of the tone that Vicarious Visions is trying to establish with MUA2. The first game was happy to embrace some of the weirder, cornier bits of Marvel's history, but its sequel seems intent on capturing the grittier, more serious tone of modern Marvel comics.

Before you get to any of that, though, the game starts off with Nick Fury calling on Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine to investigate some strange goings-on back in Doctor Doom's home country of Latveria. This is where the actual demo that Vicarious Visions was showing off took place. As our fearsome foursome fought its way through the dank Latverian streets, the most immediately noticeable change was the camera angle. While the camera in MUA defaulted to an eye-in-the-sky perspective, here it was something closer to a third-person view. It provides more visibility at incoming enemies, though the camera will also zoom in or out depending on the action, giving the action a more dynamic feel.

In addition to the four heroes you'll start off with, we got to see a few of the other characters you'll play as, including Thor, Iron Fist, the Human Torch, and Songbird, and the demo culminated in a battle against regular Spider-Man baddie Electro. All told, MUA2 will ship with 24 playable characters, though while chatting with Vicarious Visions cofounder Guha Bala I learned that, much like the original, additional characters will be made available as post-release DLC. 

...but they're even better when they join forces.
You'll be able to build up these characters' abilities as you fight your way through the game, unlocking new moves and increasing the strength of existing moves, though the big combat twist in MUA2 is the way two of your heroes can team up to perform fusion moves, several of which were shown off during the demo. Thor and the Human Torch can combine their respective abilities to create a controllable tornado of electricity and flame. Captain America and Iron Fist can use their combined momentum to create a “freight train” attack, allowing them to bowl over enemies. Thor could hurl Wolverine at enemies for a classic fastball special attack. Songbird--who can turn sound into physical energy--created a large, diamond-shaped prism, which Iron Man shot with his repulsor rays, causing them to refract and shoot back out in multiple directions. The fusion attacks generally looked spectacular and quite powerful. Based on the number of different heroes you'll be able to play as, Vicarious Visions says that there will be more than 250 fusion attacks in the game, though it doesn't appear that all of the fusion attacks will necessarily be unique.

I was intrigued by what was shown of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I came in fairly skeptical of the fusion attack stuff, but it looks cool, and it doesn't necessarily forsake the existing combat systems of the first game. The serious Civil War-inspired storyline isn't what I would've expected after the fantastical events of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but I'm definitely curious to see how it will play out.
43 Comments
Posted by Ryan
Cleaning up the mean streets of Latveria.
Raven Software's 2006 action RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance was nothing short of a love letter to fans of Marvel Comics, a big summer crossover event in video-game form. It took the basic framework of the X-Men: Legends games, and extended it to virtually every corner of the Marvel Universe, from Asgard to the Skrull homeworld. Many of the heavy-hitters of the Marvel Universe, both heroic and villainous, played some roll in the story, though there was also plenty of room for lesser-known fan-favorites and downright obscure cameos. 

Perhaps most impressively, MUA was able to honor the source material while delivering a fun, action-packed game experience, with accessible and satisfying combat backed up by solid character-advancement and team-based systems. For me personally, it's probably the most enjoyable comic-based video game I've ever played. Needless to say, my expectations for the sequel are quite high. I got to see Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 in action for the first time on the Xbox 360 during GDC last week, and it seems intent on delivering as big and explosive an experience as its predecessor, though it's definitely going about it in a different way.

Since Raven's busy testing the limits of how gory a Marvel-licensed game can be with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vicarious Visions is handling development duties on MUA2. Vicarious Visions doesn't have quite the same development track record as Raven, but it's certainly familiar with the franchise, having worked on the Wii and PSP ports of the original, in addition to building the Alchemy Engine that powered MUA. Unsurprisingly, with a new creative team comes a new creative direction for the series. 

Songbird and Iron Man are plenty effective on their own...
While MUA2 will acknowledge the apparent demise of Doctor Doom at the end of MUA, it won't be following the cosmic story line that was hinted at, much to my chagrin. (What can I say? I love Galactus and all that goofy Ditko cosmic stuff.) Instead it will take its cues primarily from the Civil War story arc, a huge comic-book crossover event that took place a few years, the repercussions of which are still being felt in the Marvel Universe today. MUA2 will take a few liberties with some of the specifics, but the basic idea of the US government passing the Super-Human Registration Act and the divide that created between heroes that are pro- and anti-registration will remain the same. 

The Civil War won't just be window-dressing, either. No real specifics were given, but at a point in the game, you'll actually have to choose which side of the conflict you stand on, which will have a significant effect on how the rest of the game will play out. The decision to focus on the Civil War storyline seems indicative of the tone that Vicarious Visions is trying to establish with MUA2. The first game was happy to embrace some of the weirder, cornier bits of Marvel's history, but its sequel seems intent on capturing the grittier, more serious tone of modern Marvel comics.

Before you get to any of that, though, the game starts off with Nick Fury calling on Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine to investigate some strange goings-on back in Doctor Doom's home country of Latveria. This is where the actual demo that Vicarious Visions was showing off took place. As our fearsome foursome fought its way through the dank Latverian streets, the most immediately noticeable change was the camera angle. While the camera in MUA defaulted to an eye-in-the-sky perspective, here it was something closer to a third-person view. It provides more visibility at incoming enemies, though the camera will also zoom in or out depending on the action, giving the action a more dynamic feel.

In addition to the four heroes you'll start off with, we got to see a few of the other characters you'll play as, including Thor, Iron Fist, the Human Torch, and Songbird, and the demo culminated in a battle against regular Spider-Man baddie Electro. All told, MUA2 will ship with 24 playable characters, though while chatting with Vicarious Visions cofounder Guha Bala I learned that, much like the original, additional characters will be made available as post-release DLC. 

...but they're even better when they join forces.
You'll be able to build up these characters' abilities as you fight your way through the game, unlocking new moves and increasing the strength of existing moves, though the big combat twist in MUA2 is the way two of your heroes can team up to perform fusion moves, several of which were shown off during the demo. Thor and the Human Torch can combine their respective abilities to create a controllable tornado of electricity and flame. Captain America and Iron Fist can use their combined momentum to create a “freight train” attack, allowing them to bowl over enemies. Thor could hurl Wolverine at enemies for a classic fastball special attack. Songbird--who can turn sound into physical energy--created a large, diamond-shaped prism, which Iron Man shot with his repulsor rays, causing them to refract and shoot back out in multiple directions. The fusion attacks generally looked spectacular and quite powerful. Based on the number of different heroes you'll be able to play as, Vicarious Visions says that there will be more than 250 fusion attacks in the game, though it doesn't appear that all of the fusion attacks will necessarily be unique.

I was intrigued by what was shown of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I came in fairly skeptical of the fusion attack stuff, but it looks cool, and it doesn't necessarily forsake the existing combat systems of the first game. The serious Civil War-inspired storyline isn't what I would've expected after the fantastical events of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but I'm definitely curious to see how it will play out.
Staff
Posted by TheClap

Lookin good.

Posted by spiceninja

Can't wait for this game. I've beaten the original more times that I can count.

Posted by RedSox8933

My friend got this when it was bundled with the 360 and gave it to me because he thought it sucked. I also thought it sucked, so I hope this one is better, because I <3 Marvel.

Posted by suneku

I'm glad it's doing the Civil War in this. I know it's not going to be exactly how the comic turned out but it's definitely the perfect story for this type of game.

Posted by NinjaSquirrel

The whole civil war thing better not restrict which characters you can have on your team. That would not be cool.

Posted by raidingkvatch

Actually pretty psyched cuz I love Civil War storylines

Posted by snide

Really really looking forward to this game. I ADORED the first Ultimate Alliance game.

Edited by Hamz
NinjaSquirrel said:
"The whole civil war thing better not restrict which characters you can have on your team. That would not be cool."
Well considering most of the actual story arc in the comics was friends, allies and relatives being torn apart as they each picked a side to fight for. I would imagine you will be somewhat restricted in who can be on your team.
Posted by Vect

Hmm.. Civil War? Well, does this mean Cable & Deadpool will be playable?


If they will, I'm guessing "Bodyslide By Two" might be an option...

Posted by 1960sSpiderman

Not to be too nerdy, but when you said, "(What can I say? I love Galactus and all that goofy Ditko cosmic stuff.) "  I think you mean Jack Kirby and not Steve Ditko.  Although Ditko did some far out stuff with Dr. Strange, it's Kirby that is THE cosmic guy. /end nerd rant  

Posted by Crispy

roll -> role*

Posted by jakob187

DOOD!!!  CIVIL WAR STORY?!


Count me in.  This is the BEST decision they could've ever made.
Posted by Ryan

Steve Ditko co-created Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is pretty effin' cosmic.

Staff
Posted by MB
snide said:
"Really really looking forward to this game. I ADORED the first Ultimate Alliance game."
Same here.  Ultimate Alliance is still in my top five favorite Xbox 360 games, and the possibility of a darker storyline with the Civil War stuff is pretty awesome.  Let's just hope they leave in the online co-op.
Moderator
Posted by zityz

Looking forwrds to this myself, I loved MUA as well as X:men legands 1 and 2 so im psyched for more.

Posted by Gregomasta

Now I'll finnally know what civil war was all about.

Edited by Spiritof

Steve Ditko is pretty f'in cosmic.

I too spent more time than I ever thought imaginable playing the original MUA . It pained me that my favorite Marvel hero (Silver Surfer) was such a pain to unlock. I wonder who the unlockables will be this time?

Posted by MKHavoc

I played through the original three times.  Really looking forward to this.

Posted by ImperiousRix

HEROES FOR HIRE!
Danny Rand and Luke Cage MAH-FUGGAHS!

Posted by lasafrog

MUA was amazing. Didn't look like a big deal to me until I played it, and it's the only game of it's type I couldn't put down until I beat it. Then, I when back and unlocked everyone, then I and got the  Hulk DLC (yes!), then unlocked every single outfit, then I cared suddenly about achievements, etc etc etc....


That game ended up being an epic for me. High hopes for the next one.

Posted by Luthorcrow

DITKO!  WTF,  Ryan, you need to be taken out and given a galactic sized spanking.

Galactus was a Jack King Kirby creation and Ditko was always a lesser Kirby wanna be.

Posted by Dryker

More Kirby libel, more's the shame!

Posted by Black_Rose

Personally, i'm not a big comic book fan, but I loved the first one so this one is a must.

Posted by Nick8708

I loved the first game, so I'm really looking forward to this.  I really hope Dr. Strange is still playable and can turn people into crates.  God I loved doing that.

Edited by Jaqen_HGhar

Looking forward to this! The original was a super game.

But Ryan: "...much to my chagrin"

Don't tell me you are a fan of Twilight -__-

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Dude, yeah.  Doctor Strange and the mind-blowing, horrible nonsense from beyond space?  That stuff is great.

Anyone see that "old" (90's) Silver Surfer cartoon?  Good stuff.

Posted by Snail

CANNOT FUCKING WAIT.

Posted by Tordah

Great news. I'm about halfway through the first game and it's been a lot of fun so far.

Posted by Undeadpool

I want only one thing to be added: let us up the stats. That was the only thing that really irked me about the last game. If I want the game to raise the stats, I'll turn on "auto-level." Other than that, I loved it, though, so definately looking forward to this.

Online
Posted by NateDogg

Orignal MUA was great fun. I milked it for most of its achievemenets and enjoyed every moment.

Posted by TooWalrus

Boooo! Bad puns!

Posted by papercut

sweeeeeeeeeeeeet

Posted by skrutop

While I liked XML2 far more than MUA (which I thought dumbed-downed the combat too much), I'm still a big fan of the series overall.  I'm interested to see what Vicarious Visions does with it in the end.

Posted by squidracerX

"it's probably the most enjoyable comic-based video game I've ever played"

That's cause comic book games SUCK... And that is so WEIRD! You have characters, powers, and plots all laid out for you, why do they suck so bad? I hated the X-men versions of these games, (i never tried the Marvel Universe one); but if that's the best Marvel and DC can do... BLAH!  I dunno, I liked the Watchmen downloadable game more than these, 4 characters is too much - the DC version had you play as 2 characters and i still felt I wish I was on my own (unless it was co-op). I liked "Capt America and the Avengers" on NES, and "Spiderman Seperation Anxiety" and the Animated "Batman and Robin" game on SNES better than these style as well.

But yeah games makers are lame with liscensed properties... why they can't figure out that EVERY Naruto and DBZ game doesn't HAVE to be a fighting game (turned based RPG with exploration world map would be awesome!), and that you can make a simple X-men or Green Lantern game... We just want to fly around like Superman is that so hard?

Posted by zoozilla

I'm cautiously optimistic.  I don't think it will be bad at all, but I'm just a little wary of the new direction the game is taking, and the fact that it's a different developer.

Posted by End_Boss

I'm tentatively excited about this game, but I remember seeing some in-game footage that looked... Polygonal.
Hopefully things turn out for the best.

Posted by MrKlorox

Couldn't get  into neither the X-Men Legends games, nor the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Not expecting anything different here.

Posted by John1912

Like the first 2, but last one was boring as hell.  They need to do more then they have been.

Posted by NorwegianSCREAMER

I LIKE BEING COOL ALSO I AGREE WITH MR. DAVIS IT WEEEL BEE MARVELOUS

Posted by Eric_Buck

If it's twice as good as the first one it will be the worst game of the year. Man I HAAATED that game.

Posted by Media_Master

This sounds epic!!

Posted by ElectricHaggis

I need to go back and finish the first game before I pick this one up.