The Ultimate Alliance: Torn Apart!
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is the sequel to the hit All-Platform (practically) Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which also was spawned from the X-men Legend games before on the Ps2. What they all have in common is allowing the player to create their own custom team of Superheroes to mash and blast their way through a number of environments from an isometric perspective. MUA2 doesn't really bring anything new to this well treaded design but instead just works with its undeniably fun concepts and gives more of what's made the original games so popular in the first place.
The original MUA had a large assortment of heroes that all banded together to go against the nefarious Dr Doom. It was all typical comic book fan fair and benefited so well from it. A huge number of boss battles all contained in some of Marvels most iconic backdrops, all while with you controlling between four heroes of your choice to make some of the greatest Super Hero Alliances of all Geek-Dom. This time around it focuses on the Civil War storyline during the comics that split up the aforementioned assortment of heroes against each other.
After a number of disastrous missions lead by Super Heroes that affected a great deal number of innocent lives, The President has called for a Registration act to be put under place to have the heroes as apart of the Government and as a way to keep track of them and their actions. Obviously some aren't so keen to have themselves become a Government lapdog while some will still bound themselves to the Law for the greater good placing many allies now at each other heels. Captain America leads the Anti-Reg while Iron Man, with the backup up the Government Agency S.H.I.E.L.D to round them up on the Pro-reg side.
Initially you're all working together, holding hands but eventually you the player will be forced to make the choice of siding with one over the other. It actually works well too cutting off certain heroes to be selectable and will give you different missions for the Second Act of the story depending on what side you picked. Even your characters passive abilities are locked to both sides, only allowing you half on your first playthrough. It doesn't really change the way the game plays but gives an appreciated amount of difference between them that you may think just a little on which side to choose. And of course opens up at least another play through at that, for most players looking get all the story enactments.
Like I mentioned earlier, no matter which side you choose you'll still be running through linear environments mashing against a small variety of enemies. That's certainly one of the biggest complaints I'd pick out for this game too. The majority of enemies can not only be beaten easily with the same tactics but all even resemble each other. Going against Iron Man will have you fighting against SHIELD agents much like you'd expect but even on Pro-Reg side, Captain America will also happen to have his own army of uniformed clones for you to slaughter. There's a small variety with the enemies, such as some that can't be grabbed or won't even flinch on attack but overall they're all there as cannon fodder for your four way team of destruction.
It's a damn good thing the game is still amazingly fun to play then. Like a classic dungeon crawler you control your heroes (or villains even) from a slanted top down perspective. You'll have a small barrage of combos you can unleash aswell four abilities per hero that you can use. You can grab practically everything you could possibly get a hold of (even lower level enemies) and with some of the bigger power attacks can really cause alot of hectically fun chaos all around you.
While alot of your heroes powers can all easily be summed into a small amount of categories they all still have their own neat twists to make each hero still feel unique. Though admittedly The Thing and The Hulk are just a little too close together with their move set. Then there's also your team of heroes Fusion powers. Through beating through the hordes of clones your fusion meter will fill up eventually allowing you to perform a Fusion Attack. Fusion Attacks are much like they sound, a fusion of two heroes abilities placed together to make an incredibly awesome all powerful attack. Much like your heroes individual powers they too fall under a small set of categories. Titled Clearing, Targeted and Guided they all are still fun to uncover with different hero combinations from how they're executed. A clearing fusion for example can still vary greatly from maybe Venom and The Thing using the ground as a bouncy castle or for say Spiderman webbing up as many enemies as he can altogether for Thor to shoot a massive bolt of electricity at the bundle. When the action slows down you'll also be engaged in conversation with your heroes or adversary's aswell. Depending on which hero or villain you have selected can determine what dialogue options you have though they all fall under three categories no matter what content the conversation is made up of. Alot of heroes use recycled dialogue options but there are some notable characters that have their own written dialogue lines for every potential conversation such as The Hulk with his humourous caveman speak. It doesn't affect the story in anyway, however and is merely there as a way to add some depth to how you can converse with your fellow capes and crusaders.
Overall it can really pull down the game to a quick blaze of pretty flashes and loud bangs, but hell if it isn't still a great time. The problems still lie under its lack of enemy variety however, aswell as the environments themselves not nearly standing out as much as say the villain Arcade's lair from the original MUA. The story aswell while interesting with its concept of heroes fighting heroes isn't quite as memorable or goofy as Dr Dooms power surge. The briefing sections between each missions are a good watch at least and talking to other heroes in between missions is still an easy side activity to become compelled towards.
The production values too are a little spotty. The gameplay graphics aren't too fancy though from the view you're given it isn't so much a problem. When talking up close with other heroes it can become more noticeable. Captain America looks great yet the majority of other heroes look to be not very detailed or with plain textures. The environments themselves aren't awe inducing but you're hardly here to stop and watch the scenery anyway. The animations are all fluid and fast paced so it manages to pull through where it counts. There's the occasional pre-rendered cutscene which also looks a little clunky but otherwise still adds some needed quality to the proceedings. Voice work is decent aswell with a lot of dialogue all around when bringing forth all the hidden audio logs and conversations you can have among heroes. Highlights go to Steve Blum who once again voices Wolverine as excellent as ever. The Thing is another well done VO aswell really catching Ben Grimms working class New Yorker personality.
The games overall replay value is decent as one would expect with a large cast of heroes for you try out. Two playthroughs are at least assured for most to watch the storyline unfold from both perspectives of Pro and Anti registration. Even still with a massive litter of collectibles abound you'll be hard pressed to 100% this one without alot of invested time. Unlockable costumes, characters, dossiers and aplenty; this makes a game well worth your money if it interests you.
A Marvel fans (4th) wet dream and otherwise just a fun hack n slash action adventure game, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 adds all the more reason to get yourself in the know with Marvels fictional nonsense.