Marvel Ultimate Alliance
feels very much like a Gauntlet
game, which offers good gameplay opportunities. The only times that the gameplay got a little frustrating for me would be when I would get turned around or not see the next place to advance and would wander back across the map looking for where to go next. One difference between Marvel Ultimate Alliance
's gameplay, however, is that you always start with four members in your team. In Single Player mode, you control one of these at any given time, with the A.I. controlling the other three. All four characters are active when you start and you can switch to any one of them any time during gameplay. By contrast, in Gauntlet
, there is only one characters in your party for each player; a one player game will have only one character in your party. Due to this gameplay mechanic, Marvel Ultimate Alliance
tends to stress the team aspect, even when you're playing a one player game.
One interesting aspect of Marvel Ultimate Alliance is that each superhero's characteristics change based on their costume, as well as on the customizations you make by selecting which powers to upgrade as you play. This allows for a good deal of customization of your character, such that two people may have Spider-Man characters that not only look different, but actually have different stats that fit their playing style.
Speaking of playing style, it is possible to play through the game as a particular character and simply choose three other characters to assist you, allowing the computer to control the other three superheroes, but a much more successful strategy is to swap between the characters and control each one when you want that character's abilities. For example, I always keep at least one character who can fly in my team; I control this superhero when I need to move around the area quickly. The others usually catch up pretty quickly, unless there's a lot of enemy activity around. Also, some characters have special moves that help the entire team out, such as Ice Man's Ice Gloves that strengthens all of your team members' striking power and Colossus's Earthquake move which has a range of effect, affecting several enemies at once.
In addition to the upgrades that you can achieve by gaining experience and collecting coins found in the levels, there are also collectible power-ups that increase stats, as well as "gear" that can be used by different superheroes at different times. One example of "gear" is a bionic arm upgrade that I picked up after defeating an enemy. I had Spider-Man pick it up and he automatically equipped it, enhancing his power. Later, if I have him unequip it while choosing characters, I can have a different superhero equip it, instead. This allows you to shift around certain attribute boosts to either make certain characters more well-rounded, or to boost a hero's skills off the chart if they're already strong in that attribute.
Another interesting aspect of Marvel Ultimate Alliance is that you can create your own team. Once you get the ability to create your team, you'll be able to start earning "reputation" points. These are similar to experience for your team and can be spent to increase team stats. These team stats increase your team's overall effectiveness when they fight together. This adds interest and depth to Marvel Ultimate Alliance's gameplay.
The multiplayer options offer two modes: Cooperative and Arcade. Arcade is similar to Gauntlet games; each player gets one character and only those characters are in the game. Cooperative mode stresses the team aspect of the game and lets all of the team members play, with players controlling as many of the characters as there are players and the rest of the characters are controlled by A.I. If you play with less than four characters, then players can switch to A.I.-controlled characters by using the D-pad. If you have four players, than each player is limited to the character they choose.