Marvel: Ultimate Alliance - 360 - Preview 2
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance from Activision puts you in control of basically everyone and their dog from the Marvel Universe in a top-down action-RPG similar to the X-Men: Legends games (also published by Activision). At a press event at Activision headquarters, we were given some hands-on time with the game, due out later this month. So far, the controls were very tight, the action was intense, and there were even a few surprises along the way. All in all, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is looking to be the quintessential Marvel video game experience.
The game will give you control of nearly every character in the Marvel canon (details were a little slim, but certain versions of the game will have exclusive characters), from the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man (no-brainers), to more esoteric fare like Doctor Strange and Thor. A host of bad guys will be available to face off against, as well, with enemies like Dr. Doom, Arcade, Mephisto, and so on.
You begin by selecting your crew of four warriors, going out into the fray fighting off the bad guys. Selecting your crew isn’t just a matter of picking out members of the team, but those who are privy to the Marvel Universe will get added bonuses for teaming together actual team members. For example, choosing Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Invisible Woman and The Thing together (the Fantastic Four, of course) you’ll get an added stat bonus which is a great touch.
From this point on the game plays very similar to the X-Men: Legends games. Switching between your characters is done on the fly with the D-Pad, as each direction corresponds with a different character in your party. If one of your team gets too wounded to proceed, then they drop off to rest. After a while, you’ll be able to summon them again to the fray from a save point. However, if they’re not quite ready to fight once you get to a save point, you can still switch out the empty slot with another character from the roster, in order to not leave you high and dry.
Fighting is also easily done and feels a lot like the XML series. You can target your attacks on enemies, use the right trigger and then the face button to perform moves and so on. Some characters can fly when you double tap the jump button. Keep tapping the Y button, and Spider-Man will actually swing around the screen with his webbing, a unique move that looks very cool.
Graphically, the game looks excellent on next-gen systems. The character models are well animated and the environments have a great lighting effects and a sense of ambience to them. One stage was Arcade’s base, which was made up to look like a carnival. One part of this stage has you dragging a big white block around the screen while a ball knocks around and breaks blocks on the other end of the screen, a la Arkanoid. You have to break all of the blocks to proceed to the next part of the area, which fit in well with Arcade’s persona.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is shaping up to be a fun and engaging action-RPG, taking the best elements from it’s spiritual predecessors and upping the ante with more villains, bigger stages and tons of unlockable heroes, making for a truly next-gen experience.