Hello all! Last week, we looked at another in my current fascination with “B-Games” with this goofy, super-serious Glaive-throwing game.
Today, let’s check out the game I always wanted since I was a kid. And, I suspect, so did many of you.
All your favorites, plus Ghost Rider.
There’s not a whole lot to say about a game like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Activision and Raven Software’s follow-up to the classic X-Men: Legends games. Like those games, you build a team of four characters and beat up scores of enemies, leveling up and gaining new abilities for each character. You take the entire team of four with you, and you can switch between them on the fly with the D-Pad.
Quite unlike X-Men: Legends, however, is the simple fact that MUA isn’t limited to the X-Men license, nor is it beholden to the endlessly confusing, decades-long continuity of X-Men. MUA features some X-Men, of course, but you also get Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Daredevil, Silver Surfer...the Xbox 360 version of the game features a whopping 33 characters to choose from, in fact.
MUA, for the uninitiated, plays something like a more action-oriented Diablo 2 *checks notes* MUA plays something like Diablo 3. Viewed from an isometric, top-down perspective, you run your chosen hero through various environments, beating up a robust variety of enemies with a handful of attacks, including special moves, of which each has their use. You gain XP and level up, and get new moves, etc. Nothing surprising.
One very cool aspect is special combos, created when two characters each do a special move that are “compatible” with each other. It barely works with the game’s AI controlling your teammates, but two human players can pull them off. And, you get bonuses for forming specific teams, like the X-Men or Avengers, and even a couple of more obscure ones. Comic fans like me appreciate the nods to teams like the New Fantastic Four (that’s Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider—where in hell is that movie?)
But the thing I like most about MUA isn’t the plot, or the gameplay, or the RPG systems. It’s the simple wish-fulfillment.
I mean, here’s a video game that says “Hey, you know all those characters you love? Here’s a bunch of them to play around with.” Here, now, was a game that combined video games with superhero comics—successfully, for a change. Admittedly, comic-to-game transitions are iffy, save for Capcom’s fighters and a couple here and there. For every Batman: Arkham game, there’s a crappy Wolverine game (take your pick from NES Wolverine, Wolverine: Adamanitum Rage, etc.)
MUA feels like a big toy-box, though. Sure, there’s a plot, but it’s not the point. The point is, I can make whatever team of heroes I want, comic book canon be damned, and have them kick just so much ass. It brings out the kid in me, and the adult in me loves it too (because I never really grew up anyway).
Sure, there’s things to complain about. Of course, the game is missing <insert character here> because you can’t please everyone. And it can get grind-heavy if you wanna level up everyone. But I personally don’t care, because the game is just too much fun. It’s still good; like me (I hope), it ages but never really gets old.
Next week, we play as a dude who hunts heads, according to the title. Okay, he doesn’t, but you get a motorcycle. And a beard!