Taking a page from the "Civil War" continuity will instantly cause thousands of Marvel fans' ears to perk up, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
does a great job of connecting the dots without being entirely derivative. This is definitely the game experience that ties most directly to the "Civil War" story, and demonstrates clearly why games and comics - both capable of longer plot development - are better bedfellows than games and movies. Rather than spin off a movie license, where plot and character development is subordinate to flashy set pieces and action sequences, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
delves into the events that split the Marvel Universe in half. Taking sides is now more than just a choice between good and bad, as you can align your team with one set of heroes that affects outcomes later in the game. Strangely, there aren't options to create multiple, parallel save points as you play, so the game essentially forces you to replay everything to see how the different stories work out. Replay value, but only if you've got the time and motivation to play the entire game through at least twice.
The style of play is unchanged from the first go 'round, a top-down, Gauntlet style of game that makes for nice party fodder. Playing with a series of friends is a cinch for a local hoe-down, but nothing is included for online play against your Wii friends, or even a pickup game via an online lobby system. This really differentiates the Wii version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 as good if you have other Wii friends that like to come over and play around, but not so good if you'll miss the idea of big online brawls. If you only have a Wii, it's not like you really have a choice, you know? The action during each level of the campaign, whether you are playing solo or with friends, goes through a series of challenge levels interspersed with scripted cut-scenes. There are objectives beyond just beating bad guys up, like knocking them out or interacting with objects in the environment. A bonus system tied to badges you gather during the game helps customize your team for specific challenges or enemies you'll battle, going further than just the weighting of each team according to each member's abilities. Learning when to use charged attacks or combos is essential to mopping up large groups of enemies or bosses, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is still a button-mashing game at its core. Gamers that also read the comics will know how everything works out, but playing a more active role in the "Civil War" storyline is a neat experience all the same.