Unveiled via press release in February 2008, the follow-up to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance was originally titled Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion. However, after a while, the Fusion subtitle was dropped and shortened simply to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.
The story of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 takes its inspiration from a couple of actual story arcs that occurred in Marvel Comics, namely Secret War and Civil War. Some of the details of the story arcs have been either changed or rearranged in order to work as a cohesive story in the video game.
The game starts with Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Wolverine as the default playable characters. As the group of heroes are led by Nick Fury, they are seen in an early cutscene infiltrating Latveria in an effort to unravel a conspiracy involving Lucia Von Bardas, the new Latverian ruler. Nick Fury and the other heroes eventually discover that The Tinkerer has been developing tech for many other countries while being funded by Latveria, leading to the ideals of international super-terrorism. The President of the United States is against the idea of any attack on Latveria, as von Bardas has been making friendly ties with the U.S. Regardless of this, Nick Fury and the crew go through with their attack and lay waste to Castle Doom, which also leads to the belief that Lucia Von Bardas died in the attack. Some years later, Lucia Von Bardas ends up reappearing with cyborg-like body parts, and she ends up controlling a ship that begins to use its weaponry to wreak havoc and destruction on New York City. A group of heroes (of the player's choosing) must then fight and defeat Lucia Von Bardas. In the wake of the destruction, the world begins to question the morality and necessity of superheroes being able to unleash their own brand of justice without having any form of accountability.
As some time has passed, the world seems to be pulling back its paranoia a little bit after the events of Secret War, especially since Nick Fury has disappeared from the public eye and stepped away from his head position at S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark (Iron Man) is seen in his penthouse watching the T.V. while worrying about fighting off a new federal bill called the Superhuman Registration Act, which would force all mutants and superheroes to register with the federal government. As he watches a reality show that has been created by the group The New Warriors, Tony and the world witness on live television as Nitro causes a massive explosion that kills hundreds to thousands of people, including an elementary school of children. This forces the hand of the federal government in passing the Superhuman Registration Act.
Maria Hill, the current leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., asks Captain America to meet with her. She asks him to help round up all of the superheroes and convince them to register. Captain America sees this as a violation of his freedom, and when he refuses, Hill tries to have him put down by her security. Captain America runs for a window, jumps out, and lands on a airplane that flies him away. This leads to Captain America being denounced by the President as a vigilante and criminal. In the meantime, Iron Man decides that he will try to have the act smashed before it gets to legislative hands by going to the White House and speaking in protest to the bill. However, when he and others superheroes arrive at the White House, they find out that it is under siege by Titanium Man.
In the aftermatch, Iron Man and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) that registering might be the best thing that anyone with powers and abilities can do. Meanwhile, Captain America and Luke Cage decide that registering would be the worst possible solution for innocent people who cannot defend themselves, as well as a violation of their rights. These events form two distinct sides: Pro-Registration (led by Iron Man) and Anti-Registration (led by Captain America).
Pro-Reg starts hunting down any Anti-Reg mutants and superhumans, which includes the likes of Luke Cage, Wolverine, and Daredevil. Some superhero teams, such as the Fantastic Four, start seeing tensions rise between members because of the actions that each team participate in. While these hunts are occurring, the Pro-Reg side also has the likes of Hank Pym and Reed Richards working on a form of nanite that can be used to control any mutants and superhumans in case they decide to misuse their powers.
Eventually, Tony Stark sets up a fake hostage situation at Stark Industries as an ambush attempt to round up a large number of Anti-Regs. He offers Captain America and anyone else who joins amnesty, but a battle then ensues. During this battle, the nanites located in some of the mutants/supervillains end up having the opposite effect than expected, leading to Venom and Green Goblin attacking S.H.I.E.L.D. officers and trying to destroy the facility. Luckily for the Anti-Reg team, one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers is Nick Fury, and he asks for help in disarming the bombs. The team ends up finding out that who they thought was Nick Fury was merely one of Nick's android versions. Nick informs them that they need to break into the Negative Zone and steal a sample of the nanite formula in order to stop the continued spreading of nanites worldwide. When they find the sample, Nick hits the self-destruct mechanism to prevent any more nanites from getting out, and the team leaves him behind. At this point, the Superhuman Registration Act is suspended so the teams can unite and fight this new threat.
After relocating to the Black Panther's home of Wakanda, which is also a safe place from any nanite attacks, the team finds out that the nanite-controlled superhumans and mutants have formed as a collective known as The Fold. As The Fold tries to attack Wakanda, the team helps Black Panther and Storm defend the country. The team finds out that in order to stop the nanite attacks, they need to broadcast a radio signal that will disable their control over mutants and superhumans. After curing Venom and Green Goblin, the team heads to Iceland to broadcast the signal. Upon arrival, they find The Tinkerer is behind the whole ordeal, and he has taken control of Nick Fury with nanites.
Once Nick Fury has been beaten, the game has two possible endings. The Anti-Registration side shows the player that the Superhuman Registration Act has been appealed, while the Pro-Registration side shows the Act being repealed.
Like its predecessor, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 plays like a hybrid between beat 'em up and dungeon crawler gameplay styles. At its core, the game is an RPG, featuring a leveling system and skill points for special abilities and overall character performance improvements. Players can go through the game solo with three A.I.-controlled allies, or they can play in up to four-player co-op. There are also training rooms and additional "disc missions" that can be completed for additional rewards such as experience points or boosts.
As players progress through the game, they will unlock different "boosts", which can be used as a means of enhancing a team's abilities. Examples are increased overall damage, increased health regeneration, additional currency drops, etc.
In addition to boosts, Team Bonuses return from the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance. By having four members of the same "team", you will gain an additional bonus (i.e. four characters from X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, etc).
Used primarily as a storytelling device, the "attitude" mechanic has been added to the conversations with NPCs. During a conversation, players can choose between Aggressive, Defensive, or Diplomatic responses in conversation, with different responses leading to acquiring different boosts for your team.
Pro-Reg/Anti-Reg Specific Characters
At a certain point in the story, the player can choose to side with Pro-Registration or Anti-Registration, which leads to changes in the story and access to exclusive characters. Iron Man, Songbird, and Mr. Fantastic are exclusive to the Pro-Reg side, and Captain America, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are exclusive to the Anti-Reg Side. There are some slight differences to the ending depending on which side you choose as well.
Damage / Resistance Types
Similar to the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance, knowing individual characters and bosses damage and resistance types is a must in order to staying alive and defeating bosses successfully. The known types of damage are broken down into three categories - physical damage, elemental damage, special damage. Within these three they are broken down even further into individual subsets.
A big part of this game is the fusion system. Each character can combine his powers with another one to make a super-powerful attack. Teaming up now becomes an essential part of the gameplay. With all of the characters being able to combine powers with one another, there will be hundreds of moves that can be used. Each move is different, some being used to clear a room quickly, some being used on only one enemy, and even the ability to revive fallen comrades. One example of these attacks is when Iron Man and Hulk combine powers, Hulk rips a hunk of rock or material from the ground, Iron Man superheats it, and then Hulk throws it at your enemies, creating an explosion.
On Disc Characters
Console Exclusive Characters
*To unlock these characters, you must find 5 of each character-specific collectible. For Hulk, it is the Gamma Regulator. For Thor, it is the Asgardian Rune. For Jean Grey, it is the M'kraan Fragment.
Easter Eggs and Differences
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 features a couple of references and Easter Eggs for fans of both Marvel and the storylines it tries to portray. It also features a couple of changes made to the story, mainly Civil War, in order to make it work better as a video game.
- Stan Lee, co-creator of several Marvel characters and former President of Marvel Comics, makes a cameo appearance in the game. He plays the role of Senator Lieber, and he is located in a parking garage at the White House sequence of the game. Stan Lee's real name is Stanley Lieber.
- During some of the news cutscenes, as well as venturing around the world, the player will hear and see references made about people believing that Tony Stark and other superheroes may be Skrulls in disguise. This is a reference to Secret Invasion, the storyline that follows after Civil War. Speculation has also been made that a third MUA game could focus on this story arc because of this ongoing reference in the game. However, with Activision losing the Marvel license recently, which also eliminated the DLC* on both the XBL and PSN services, it seems exceedingly unlikely.
*On July 1 2010, the DLC was made available once again and will remain so only until Dec 31 2010.
- In Civil War, the battle at Stark Industries plays out quite differently than it does in the game, and this is where the story for the game veers into quite a different direction. In the comics, Black Goliath is killed by a Thor clone at the battle. This causes the sides to shift significantly and sees characters like Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Johnny Storm (The Human Torch), and Spider-Man joining the Anti-Reg team.
- In Civil War, there is a very important part played by The Punisher for the Anti-Reg team, where The Punisher kills two former super-villains who are trying to help the Anti-Reg team. Captain America goes into a rage and tells The Punisher to leave. The Punisher was completely cut out of the story from the game, and instead, the development team worked on an interlocking story between Secret War and Civil War with Nick Fury.
- In Secret War, superhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Daisy Johnson is the one who specifically "kills" Lucia von Bardas. Daisy Johnson is not featured at all in the game.
- The "nanite invasion" is a story specifically made for the game and is not featured in any continuity of the comics.