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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Local / Online)
Genre: Action/ RPG/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The original Marvel Ultimate Alliance based part of its appeal on fan service -- and it was still quite fun. While it could be considered a "pick-up-and-play" title, hardcore players could peel back the layers to find a deep and satisfying role-playing system. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 was helmed by a different developer, but nobody should be wary of this new installment. If you liked the first one, rest assured that you will love the sequel. Vicarious Visions has made several improvements on the formula while adding a generous layer of polish to everything that made the original so good in the first place.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 looks much better than its predecessor. There's a lot of streamlining in the Menu systems, the animation work is superb, and the destructible environments look fantastic. Another huge plus is that MUA2's camera is not as afraid to get up close and personal as the first game's camera was. That's not to say the camera's perfect; it can become uncooperative at times. All the RPG-esque number-crunching is on full display, and every hit landed is marked. There are some quirks; the framerate will take a hit whenever the action gets too hot, and then it will take another when you unleash a Fusion attack on a screen full of enemies. Occasionally, the screen will get too busy, which makes it difficult to see what's going on with your character. None of this detracts significantly from the experience, but none of it will go unnoticed, either.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 sounds great. Every attack sounds like it should, from the snikt of Wolverine's claws to the groundshaking noises of pretty much everything The Thing does. The voicework is just about right; all the stereotypes and corny one-liners of the Marvel universe are present and accounted for ("Always bet on Gambit" from Monsieur LeBeau, and "Cool, I was just chillin'" from Iceman). The music stays out of the way for the most part, but what's there is decent enough to keep anyone from complaining.


Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 begins as Nick Fury sends a team of superheroes on another mission in Latveria. Politically, this is an extremely risky move, because in the time between Marvel Ultimate Alliance and MUA2, the powers that be have installed a new leader to replace the fallen Victor Von Doom. Suffice to say, the unsanctioned mission is followed by a slew of superhero-related catastrophes. As a result, the heroes end up being punished by perhaps the greatest villain in comic book history: Congress. The House imprudently passes the Superhero Registration Act: an action that causes a simple ideological divide among the alliance to go volatile. Before long, a full-fledged superhero civil war breaks out. The story of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is much more interesting than that of its predecessor; the first one was basically "Hey, look at all these superheroes and supervillains we've managed to cram into this game!" MUA2's story is more concerned with shades of gray, as well as what makes each character tick.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is an action game peppered with role-playing elements. It can be played solo or with up to three other players, locally or over Xbox Live. As far as the actual game goes, it follows the same template that was established by the X-Men Legends series and then improved upon by the first MUA. It's an isometric beat-em-up that allows you to choose from a huge stable of Marvel superheroes.

As in the first game, MUA2 rewards every defeated enemy with experience. Earning experience will allow you to level up and allocate special points into a deep character growth system. This system is as robust as it has ever been, and there are a ton of powers and upgrades to choose from. They say that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, then Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 es muy caliente.


Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2's difficulty level is very well balanced, regardless of which setting you choose to play. Simple button-mashing can get you through the game on the easier settings, but once you try your hand at the harder difficulty level, you'll have to think more carefully about your attacks. Shuffling your team members around will become a necessity, depending on what situation you're in and what kind of enemies you have to fight. Overall, it's not that difficult a game.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance was loaded with extras, and so is Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Consider the simulation discs, training exercises, and trivia games to be a huge dollop of icing on the cake. They will keep you happy for quite some time.

Replay value is usually influenced by several factors. Some of these factors are for completionists who like to finish each game, or, to put it in gaming jargon, "100% it." Others are for Achievement/Trophy hunters who like to show off how dedicated they are to their games. While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 has all of that in spades, it's replay value is high simply because it's fun to play. It may be somewhat simplistic at its core, but to its credit, it's accessible fun for just about anyone who likes to beat up bad guys.

Game Mechanics:

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2's showstopper mechanic is the Fusion Attack. The Fusion Attack allows your character to team up with another hero and deliver an attack that uniquely showcases the abilities of both heroes in the context of teamwork. For example, Iceman can create an enormous chunk of ice for The Thing to brain a goon with. Iron Man (or Ms. Marvel) can fire a bolt of energy at Wolverine's adamantium claws, which concentrate and reflect the energy at surrounding enemies. Some of the Fusion Attacks are recycled, but most of them are a joy to behold.

The first Marvel Ultimate Alliance made use of a conversation system that seemed more of an afterthought than a serious gameplay mechanic. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 has a similar conversation system, albeit one with a lot more depth. First off, most dialogue options are specially written to be delivered by the character you're playing as. More importantly, what you say often has a direct result on what kind of character you're building. There are three main attitudes that you can embody: Aggressive, Diplomatic, or Defensive. When you make your dialogue choice, the game will award you with a point towards a stat boost that fits within the context of that particular attitude. The conversation system may not be as inventive or as fun as in games like Mass Effect or Fallout 3, but as with most aspects of MUA2, it's a considerable step up from the first game.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 offers just about everything you'd want in a sequel. It makes subtle improvements on the problem areas of the original, while it tweaks and polishes much of what worked fine in the first place. If you're a Marvel junkie or a fan of action-RPGs, go pick this one up.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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