The Hulk tosses a car at a giant sealed door while Venom, Wolverine and Iron Man pick off attacking soldiers. The doors fall, leading the group to the underground lair of the Tinkerer who has been siphoning US aid money to build an army of mechanical soldiers for Dr. Doom. The Tinkerer laments that his troops haven’t been battle-tested yet, but decides a scuffle with the motley group of heroes will suffice. Just then, Iron Man turns and fires at beam at Wolverine, who diffuses the blast with the claws, sending a prism of blasts towards their enemies.
This is a typical gameplay situation in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, the sequel to Activision’s wildly successful Ultimate Alliance. Drawing for the recent Secret War and Civil War storylines form the comics, Ultimate Alliance 2 asks players to choose between freedom or security as they support or oppose the Superhuman Registration Act.
After an explosion wipes out a school in Connecticut, the superhuman community comes under scrutiny. The government decides that super powers are dangerous and should be monitored, leading them to draft the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring super-powered beings to register their secret identities with the government. Iron Man decides to support the act, while Captain America leads a revolt against the government.
Although the game draws heavily on the Civil War event, it isn’t a blow-for-blow account. You will, however, play through some of the story’s iconic set pieces like the assault on Castle Doom and the ambush at Geffen-Meyer. The game unfolds differently based on which side you choose. You’ll unlock different player rewards and characters will react differently towards you.
Fusions – the ability to combine character’s attacks – are a major new gameplay mechanic. There are three types of Fusions: Targeted, Guided and Clearing. Targeted attacks, like the Fastball special where Hulk tosses Wolverine like a feral ball of blades, inflict large amounts of damage on one target. Guided attacks, like Thor and Human Torch’s tornado of fire are controlled by the player and allow for more concentrated damage in an area. Clearing attacks, like Iron Man and Wolverine’s prismatic blast, will clear out all large groups of enemies. You’re limited to four characters, though you can swap characters on the fly. The idea is to allow players to experiment with new Fusions and get the most out of their roster.
New equipment, the cornerstone of any action RPG, is replaced with boosts. There are hundreds of boosts available that do everything from increasing melee damage to reducing damage. Heroes can have up to three equipped at any time. Additionally, as characters level, their powers increase, unlocking new abilities and functions.
Look for Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 later this year.