Tag Archive: fantastic four

Join the Merry Marvel Marching Society

When LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was first announced, some of us less-open-minded comic-book aficionados had some questions about the idea of Warner Bros. (who owns rival DC) publishing a Marvel product of any kind. Luckily, it seems that developer TT Games has just as many mighty Marvelites on their staff as they do dedicated DCers (just don’t tell the bigwigs upstairs!).

Similar to the LEGO Batman games, TT started by making a LEGO-ized version of New York City, giving fans of the comic-book giant an open world comparable to DC’s Gotham. Sure, they’ve taken some liberties—the X-Mansion’s been moved to the North End and out of Westchester County, for example—but these changes were necessary to make everything fit logically into what’s a truly massive hub made of LEGO bricks. With well over 100 heroes and villains coming together in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, however, there needs to be a universal threat that ties this hub and these heroes together.

Fortunately, Marvel has exactly that in the form of the world-consuming Galactus. And he hungers for Earth. Again. Only a select few know of his approach, though, and some of Marvel’s most nefarious nemeses like Magneto, Loki, and Dr. Doom look to turn this global threat to their advantage. Marvel’s best and brightest heroes will now try to work together to thwart the master plan of these villains, as well as turn Galactus away.

If you’ve played any of the LEGO titles before—whether they were based directly on a movie or more loosely inspired by a property like this one—then you have an idea of what to expect. For this particular game, the action’s broken into 15 levels across many familiar Marvel Universe locales. As you make progress, you unlock gold bricks for performing certain actions, such as saving Stan Lee (who always finds himself in a perilous situation!) or collecting a certain amount of studs (the LEGO version of coins). As you unlock more bricks and play more of the game, you’ll add more heroes and villains to an ever-expanding cast of characters—who can then, in turn, be used to unlock more bricks. And the cycle continues until you 100-percent the game.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes features more activities than previous entries when it comes to acquiring bricks, giving the game solid variety and replayability. Some gold bricks require puzzle-solving and swapping of powers, but the game also includes plenty of fetch quests that are rather dull and populate much of the hub world. Escorting mini-figs slowly on foot from one side of the map to the other is not my definition of fun and could grate on completionists.

Speaking of swapping powers, your mini-figures can now wield more abilities than ever before. And not just the super-strength you’d expect from characters like the Hulk or the Thing—you can fire laser blasts with Cyclops, activate Magneto’s mastery of magnetism to move all things made of metal, or use Jean Grey’s telekinesis to move just about everything else in the world around. Mind you, wielding Magneto and Jean Grey’s power classes can take some getting used to, since they’re not as accurate as, say, a blast of flame from the hands of the Human Torch.

Since many characters can flylike Thor and Iron Mangetting around the hub world has also never been easier. The game even includes vehicles (some of which even having character themes, like the Green Goblin’s helicopterthough he really doesn’t need one, since he has his glider, right?) for characters that move around mostly on foot, such as Black Widow or Hawkeye.

So, some of the gameplay has changed to go along with the new IP, but one element remains mostly the same: the writing. TT Games usually does a tremendous job of finding ways to sprinkle in humor that freshens up the experience for older players, but they also inject plenty of slapstick and childish antics to ensure appeal to younger audiences. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is no exception, and its charm should warm the hearts of even the most jaded of comic-book fans.

Unfortunately, the technical problems that have plagued the LEGO series also return here. The camera remains a problem, especially in the hub world, and it’ll often lead to some unnecessary deaths. The rotating split-screen in co-op is also a distraction and detracts from the co-op experience, since two characters can’t just run off—they need to stay close to each other at all times. In future entries, TT Games either needs to make two static, horizontal split-screens or keep me and my buddy stuck within the same window. I started getting sick from the rotating line that appears when one player decides to run north and the other south.

While on the subject of co-op, the other big problem is that we still don’t have online 4-player co-op. The game includes many instances with four heroes in a group in the story, and I had to needlessly rotate through them all to try to progress. Even at my age, I can imagine having a good time with friends or my younger cousins on the other side of the country if we could do this online. And why limit the 4-player fun to the story? The hub world is easily massive enough to fit four mini-fig heroes in it.

Besides the legacy technical shortcomings, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is immensely enjoyable. It has enough side content, including bonus missions and challenges, that should keep gamers of all ages entertained for hours. But even if you’re just in it for the story, you should walk away happy. If you love LEGO, Marvel comics, or both, this game won’t disappoint.

Developer: TT Games • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: E10+ • Release Date: 10.22.2013
Some technical shortcomings aside, this is a tremendously fun experience that will appeal to LEGO and comic book fans young and old alike.
The Good Same humor and charm we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
The Bad Same camera and technical glitches we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
The Ugly Same wonton destruction of property we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, DS, PS Vita, and will be a launch title for PS4 and Xbox One. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

Dr. Doomed from the start

Right next to having superpowers of their own and fighting alongside their favorite characters, the next best thing for most comic-book fans would be actually assuming the role of their most beloved superheroes. Personally, I’d probably like to be one of the X-Men. Wolverine, Iceman, or Colossus, if possible—I’m not picky.

The guys and gals at Gazillion Entertainment zero in on this concept with their free-to-play PC game, Marvel Heroes. Driven by Diablo-style action-RPG mechanics, the game sees players starting off by choosing one of five heroes who most comic fans would consider B-list: Hawkeye, Storm, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, and the Thing. By beating the game—or spending some cold, hard cash—you can unlock other heroes or purchase a variety of costumes for these characters.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me and get tempted into picking up the ’90s X-Men cartoon version of Cyclops or Wolverine after a few story chapters, you’ll soon realize that the starter characters represent core classes—and no matter what hero you choose, the powersets are basically the same, just with different animations.

Considering the differences between the heroes in the Marvel universe, this was frustrating as a fan. After all, I was willing to shell out the cash—only to find out there’s no need beyond cosmetic preferences. To add insult to injury, each purchased character starts at level 1, so if you want to immediately use them, the game recommends that you start the entire adventure over again, no matter what point you’re currently at.

A couple of saving graces here, however, are the story and comic-book-still cutscenes. Written by Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis, the tale incorporates some of Marvel’s most famous story arcs from all their major comic lines into one tidy package. The basics, though, boil down to this: Dr. Doom has a Cosmic Cube, and he feels like messing with reality, because that’s what megalomaniacal bad guys do. I’ve also got to compliment the top-notch voice acting in the cutscenes, including instantly recognizable pros like Nolan North as Deadpool, Steve Blum as Wolverine, and Keith David as Nick Fury.

After choosing your characters, it’s time to actually play the game. And by the time I got a third of the way through the campaign, I’d already grown bored. Instead of offering any kind of variety or difficulty, the game simply threw more and more enemies at me—or gave them an insane amount of health—in the hopes of slowing me down. But it’s not like I was actually doing anything. I played as Hawkeye for most of the game after wasting my money, so all I had to do was get a decent distance away, hold the Shift key in order to ground my hero, and then hold another button to attack. Sometimes two. If I played as the Hulk or Thing, the only thing that changed was my distance relative to the target. The enemy spawn times are also horribly balanced, and I’d regularly clear an area of Hand ninjas or HYDRA goons, only to have them reappear nanoseconds later.

One decent aspect of the gameplay, however, comes in the dungeons. If you turn on auto-grouping, you can enter any dungeon without the fear of being completely overwhelmed. Unlike a lot of other MMOs, when you enter a dungeon around the same time as other players, you can be automatically placed on a team with them. Of course, this can lead to the confusing dilemma of having six Hawkeyes on the same team (which happened to me a lot) and getting your particular avatar lost in the chaos, but if you’re a more introverted gamer, you don’t have to worry about pulling up an awkward chat window, begging for assistance, and dealing with complete strangers.

Normally, this is about where I’d wrap up my review, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the most disappointing aspect of my time playing Marvel Heroes: the technical side. I purposely waited as long as I did to put up my review because I was waiting to see how the game performed after some patches. While the game has seen several small patches and one major fix in the two weeks since the game went live, I’m still experiencing many gameplay-balance problems, as well as numerous technical issues.

Every 20 to 30 minutes, my game crashes or freezes for no apparent reason, and while I’ve reported this error on the technical forums, it remains unfixed after performing the recommended actions from the support staff. I’ve made sure my drivers are up to date, I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the game launcher, and I’ve even turned down the specs to the lowest possible setting (my PC isn’t the highest-end gaming rig, but it should handle the minimum requirements no problem).

This left the support staff confounded—and me increasingly frustrated. So, I want to warn people before they play Marvel Heroes: In my experience, it just doesn’t work as well as it should. And after perusing the forums, I found that the error I encountered is actually pretty common. Then again, you get what you pay for—and the core of the game is free, after all.

So, if the game works for you perfectly, that’s great, but at the end of the day, fewer crashes still won’t make Marvel Heroes the most worthwhile of experiences unless you fall in love with its price tag.

Developer: Gazillion Entertainment • Publisher: Gazillion Entertainment • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 06.04.13
While Marvel Heroes does some nice things, the Marvel license isn’t enough to cover up glaring technical and design flaws. As much as I wanted to like this game, I can’t recommend something that is, at its core, broken. In the end, you get what you pay for (or less, if you actually invested in this).
The Good Story that expertly reimagines some of Marvel’s greatest moments.
The Bad Constant crashing and glitches; uninspired gameplay.
The Ugly Expecting to get something for nothing—and then being surprised when what you get just isn’t that good.
Marvel Heroes is a PC exclusive. 

Make Mine Marvel

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t want to be a superhero. Whether it was wielding the Hulk’s impossible strength, firing lasers from my eyes like Cyclops, or cutting things to ribbons with Wolverine’s claws, superpowers have always been at the forefront of my imagination. So, I’ll admit that I relished being able to go hands-on with Gazillion Entertainment’s upcoming free-to-play MMORPG Marvel Heroes.

The story starts off with vintage Marvel bad guy Dr. Doom getting his hands on a Cosmic Cube—and the chaos he intends to bring down upon the citizenry of the world will be significant. Therefore, Marvel’s mightiest heroes from across all major lines must come together to root out Doom and his allies. Being as obsessed with comics as I am, this story may look like it’s been done before—on the surface, anyway. But the game’s writer, Brian Michael Bendis (best known for his long run on The Avengers), is clear that it’s difficult to write for a game like this.

“The challenge was to come up with a story that hits as much architecture and landscape in the Marvel Universe as possible without it feeling too much like a knee-jerk thing,” he says. “What’s interesting about the Marvel Universe is that there are just as many interesting things going on at the street level—let’s say the Daredevil level, the Spider-Man level—as there are at the cosmic level, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Silver Surfer, the Galactus level. The cool thing—and the interesting idea for us—was to actually start the story at the ground level and kind of roll like a snowball downhill. As you discover more and more about the actual story and play through the game, you get to travel up toward the cosmic level of the Marvel universe, all the while not getting newcomers lost or confused. I looked at it like this grand opportunity to create almost like a Marvel event comic unlike anything you’d actually seen in publishing. And at the same time, create like a Marvel lifestyle product, if that makes sense. Then, there are some fans who live and breathe these characters—and are going to live and breathe this game. This is going to be, if done well, the next step of the worldwide community of comic-book fans and Marvel fans and just fans of games. To create something that really lives and breathes like the Marvel Universe for them all to live in is a real treat—and a real challenge.”

If you should live and breathe these characters, as Mr. Bendis so aptly puts it, then you’ll probably be as excited as I was to see what he was talking about. I was fortunate enough to play through three of the story’s dozen chapters; in that time, I went from Mutant Town in New York City to the Kingpin’s penthouse to the Morlock sewers to the Savage Land—hopping through some of Marvel’s most iconic locations in a way that makes sense to the story. I also took on iconic baddies like Sentinels, Mutates, A.I.M., and the Purifiers, not to mention individual supervillains like Green Goblin, Tombstone, Sauron, Bullseye, and Lady Deathstrike.

But including characters that we expect to see in a game like this isn’t going to be enough—the gameplay needs to be there, too. Fortunately, Gazillion president and COO David Brevik has a bit of experience in making games like this really shine (he created Diablo I and II, if you didn’t recognize the name).

Steering away from fully customizable avatars, Marvel Heroes wants to make you feel like those great characters we all grew up loving, so you only play as established characters from the Marvel Universe. If you want to smash with the Hulk, you can do it. If Ms. Marvel is more your thing, then no one will stop you. Or maybe purple really does it for you, so Hawkeye’s your man. If they’re a hero in the Marvel Universe, you can unlock them and play with them at some point. And if you don’t like their standard look, you’ve got a bevy of alternate costumes you can unlock—like, if you’d rather your Captain America have that 1940s helmet instead of his modern mask.

And playing with these characters feels as great as you’d expect. Setting hotkeys for special powers or just left- and right-clicking makes it so you can fire a variety of beams with Cyclops or set the world on fire however you wish with the Human Torch. It couldn’t be easier to start mowing down Mole People or putting the screws to Pyro than that.

As Brevik explains, though, you can’t just go it alone if you really want to get through the story and the inevitable expansions down the road. At times, you’ll have to team up, and Gazillion’s trying some different ways to make some of those feel more spur-of-the-moment than camping out in front of a dungeon entrance looking for help.

“We had an idea about the way that we’d like to get invites going and get people together,” he says. “We have events that are more traditional encounters, making sure that there are opportunities for people to socially get together and group up. You hang out in town, and people are like, ‘I need help with the Kingpin fight!’ or ‘Oh, I’m on that, too,’ and group up and go to this thing together. That’s something we wanted from the very beginning as part of the design. Then, we have optional grouping, which is this loose grouping out in the public combat zones. Green Goblin suddenly pops up, and then everybody can get together dynamically and work together, and everybody gets rewarded. So, there isn’t an official formalization of the grouping there. There’ll be other ways to group and other ways to do things, especially in the endgame, that I think will also play right into the kind of MMO hands that people are used to.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the crafting system. Going to certain characters like Forge at the X-Mansion or Hank Pym at Avengers Tower will allow players the chance to upgrade their equipment or add buffs to items like Cyclops’ visor or Deadpool’s katanas. This just gives you an even deeper connection to the experience; it hearkens back to Diablo while still featuring the Marvel flair players expect.

Marvel Heroes is shaping up as one of the more special free-to-play MMO experiences. With the power of the Marvel license, writers like Brian Michael Bendis, and David Brevik’s Diablo background, every Marvelite will likely be shouting “Excelsior!” when this game’s finally open to everyone—hopefully sometime later this year.

Comic books fans are some of the most hardcore media consumers there are. And so when word came out that Disney and Playdom were making a “casual” Facebook game revolving around the Marvel Universe called Marvel Avengers Alliance, a collective groan could be heard coming from the comic community. But never fear fellow True Believers as it seems that our favorite heroes and villains are in good hands.

Although it may fall under the category of “casual” due to its delivery system to your computers, Marvel Avengers Alliance is shaping up to be an experience that all Marvel-ites will want to be a part of. Set up like a classic RPG, this original story (the release near the movie is a happy coincidence for the game as it has no movie tie-in) you play as your very own agent of SHIELD fresh out of boot camp and your high marks has already garnered the attention of Nick Fury. So when an intergalactic event called “The Pulse” suddenly slams the Earth, he knows just who to call to help round up the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

The threat of The Pulse is that super-villains from all over the world are searching for fragments of an element that the Pulse left behind called ISO-8 that can enhance their powers. Turn about is fair play though as later on during your super-heroing career, you’ll be able to use larger and more diverse fragments of ISO-8 yourself to round out your stable of heroes’ abilities or turn them into powerhouses in the areas they are already strongest. Hulk can truly be the strongest there is with an ISO-8 boost, or he can learn a little finesse and accuracy with his Thunder Clap if you so choose.

For every mission you go on, you’ll be able to take two heroes to go with your Agent character and be able to unlock up to 28 heroes overall including Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Black Cat, Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. If your favorite character is too many levels away though from being unlocked, there will also be an in-game store where you can purchase the unlock for them as well as a bevy of items to help you on your quest. What is most interesting about all these characters though is how different some of them look. In the picture above, we see more 80s era looking Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) and Colossus, but I also saw a more modern rendition of She-Hulk and the Ultimate Universe’s version of Nick Fury in the game.

“It’s funny what people key into, but understand that it’s all very intentional and we spoke to Marvel all along the way about what era should we go for look-wise here. I mean Iron Man has 31 different suits of armor, which should we go with in the game, and then what will we have available to the players in the future? Are we going to have all 31 Iron Man suits? Obviously not on Day 1, but the intent is to speak to all the fans and give them all those options. But, it’s interesting what different Marvel fans key into and you should know it’s all not just a happy accident. We were very specific with how all the characters would lay out with their different looks,” said Michael Rubinelli, Vice President of Studio Operations for Playdom when I brought it up.

But aside from forwarding the story and playing through like a regular RPG, with leveling up, turn-based mechanics, and buffs and de-buffs depending on equipment, what makes this appeal to the “Casual” market is the fact that you can call in your friends’ heroes for help and they will receive a reward for making their hero available to you. Mind you, if your team has Captain America and Wolverine on it, you can’t call in your buddy’s Cap or Wolvie as the story won’t support mirrors. There is also PvP match-ups (where mirrors are allowed) where you can put your best team to the test and see how they fair against friends and foes alike, helping to expand on the game experience even further and giving this just as long a life as any other “casual” game.

“You’ve got a game that basically can play out infinitely, and that we’re going to support by continuing to release new content, we’re going to continue adding new features, and there’s no level cap. This game doesn’t ever have to end and so by interacting and people continuing to invest in their characters, those characters can continue to grow indefinitely. And that’s part of the beauty of the Marvel franchise as things change and develop in the comics, we can add things to reflect that in the game as time goes on,” said Robert Reichner, COO and co-founder of Offbeat Creations, who helped work on the game.

And the best part is the investment doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as many other RPGs and MMOs out there (hence the “casual” nature) as you can take heroes you aren’t playing with and send them on missions by themselves to level them up and have them learn new moves before calling on them later (think of the Assassin Recruits in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations). Even when you leave Facebook, the character growth continues, encouraging you that just by putting a few minutes into the game each day can have profound affects on your characters later on.

All in all, Marvel Avengers Alliance looks to be a “casual” game that will finally appeal to that “hardcore” comic book fan. An original story, a deep RPG leveling up system, and all our favorite characters with hopes for more down the road, has me ready to shout Excelsior!

What do you folks think? Are you going to play this casual title? Do you think the Marvel characters will translate well to Facebook? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!

Originally Published: April 5, 2011, on Comicvine.com

So after trying to put some Assassin’s Creed parkour elements into my idea for a Nick Fury game here, I started to think about what hero who has never had a game would be a more natural fit for that style of game. He would have to be extremely agile and be prone to climbing, leaping, and making whatever his surroundings may be his own personal jungle gym.

Jungle. Hmmm. This got me thinking about how so few of those games take place in a modern era urban environment and how none really take place in the wilderness. I can imagine that it would be just as fun to swing from tree branches and vines as you move through the forest canopy as it would be to move across concrete rooftops. And so I present to you my idea for a hero who could traverse both the dense African jungle and the urban sprawl, and who clearly will again in my idea for a game, the Black Panther!

To ensure there is no confusion, when I refer to the Black Panther, I’m talking about T’Challa and not his sister Shuri. Now that we’ve covered our bases, we need a plot that will make sure T’Challa will travel around both the jungles of Wakanda and the city to make sure we get to experience both jumping around tree tops and dropping down on foes like a real panther and then taking those skills to the urban jungle. This will really help players to get a feel for some of T’Challa’s struggles as well as he has always had to balance the ancient ways of his people with an ever-changing world and urbanization.

I am thinking this would need to be a story broken down into two parts. The first part would be original to the video game in order to help feature some of T’Challa’s most iconic villains as well as to help the user get used to a lot of T’Challa’s abilities. These in-depth tutorial levels will feature lots of hand-to-hand combat as T’Challa moves around the African jungle in this third-person action adventure game.

Now, the two most iconic Black Panther villains I always think of are Klaw and Killmonger and so they would need to be featured in these early levels doing their usual bit in wanting to destroy T’Challa, Killmonger to rule Wakanda and Klaw just because he hates him so damn much. These early levels will work out as about a quarter to a third of the game and educate the players in all of the moves and powers that T’Challa will use for the rest of the game.

After quelling these iconic threats, and since they always seem to be going after Black Panther, we can just write them off as a flashback or whatnot from one of the many encounters T’Challa had with them and we’ll jump into the comic continuity from there. We can pick it up right around the same time as Dark Reign. This would make sense because T’Challa could be reminiscing about simpler times for the battles against Klaw and Killmonger when confronted by Namor about the Dark Illuminati.

This could set T’Challa up for battles against Dr. Doom, Morlun, and Death herself if we were to follow the comic timeline and this could make up the bulk of the remainder of the game. We could also streamline the timeline, cutting out smaller events and whatnot to ensure that our last couple of levels follow T’Challa as he is now in Hell’s Kitchen (thus ensuring urban levels).

It might be a bit much to pull off, but a video game that features T’Challa against his classic foes like Killmonger and Klaw and then follows him through Doomwar would definitely be epic enough to warrant a game. Include cameos by some of the Marvel universes most well-known characters combined with a jaw-dropping depiction of Wakanda and the surrounding forests as you explore them Assassin’s Creed style and I think the game would be a perfect fit for action/adventure enthusiasts out there.

One last minor detail I want to mention is that if I’m having a Black Panther game, I want Keith David to do his voice for all the cinema scenes. If you need a strong, independent black man played in a cartoon or video game, you get Keith David. Plus, he’s already been the character when Black Panther made an appearance in the 1994 Fantastic Four cartoon.

So there you have it folks. We have a voice for the Black Panther, a plot with a lot of iconic villains, and a set gameplay mechanic that should work perfectly for what we would want to pull off. Let me know what you guys think. Could T’Challa carry his own title? Should he only be featured in a more team-oriented game like maybe an Avengers title? Are there other villains that could be featured? Is Doomwar the kind of story that could translate to a video game? Let us know with comments below!

Originally Published: February 1, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for the Xbox 360.

Originally Published: October 8, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 1 for the Nintendo Wii.

When Heroes Collide

Originally Published: October 5, 2009, to 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Lundberg.me, and Comicvine.com

Marvel, a while ago, had put out a series of action RPGs involving four-person teams of some of your favorite heroes. Two X-men games, a couple of Fantastic Four titles, and the crème de le crème that culminated in the title that was Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, a joining of many of the heroes from the Marvel Universe, that did extraordinarily well with an original plot line and the game allowed you to mix and match your favorite heroes in any way you saw fit.

The best part of MUA was that it left itself wide open for a sequel involving Galactus, maybe the Silver Surfer, and an even larger array of heroes that encompassed the whole of the Marvel Universe.

But when MUA 2 came out, instead, it looked like the folks at Activision and Vicarious Visions who took over this series of games got lazy and didn’t feel like coming up with an entirely new script again. They took two of the biggest Marvel story arcs in recent history with Nick Fury’s Secret War and the Superhero Civil War and changed the ending so that if they ever decide to be original again, then they can.

Incase you are unfamiliar with these plots I will give you a quick summary: basically Fury’s War was a private attack on Dr. Doom’s Latveria (in this case after the events of MUA 1) as the new governess was also a weapons trafficker and designer. The Civil War pitted hero against hero as the government tried to make superheroes reveal their secret identities by registering with the government to make them liable for collateral damage after the New Warriors underestimated a group of villains in Stamford, CT, and 612 people were killed in the ensuing battle.

I’ll give credit where it is due in that Activision and Vicarious Visions stayed as true to the original comic arcs as they could before trying to get cute in bringing everyone together, but considering they had a plot for a sequel already lined up, it boggles my mind that they would put it on the backburner for something that die-hards spent far too long reading about to begin with.

Aside from my frustrations over the lack of a truly original plot though, this game is just as good as the first MUA in every other aspect. The cut scenes look beautiful and the voice acting is top-notch although I could’ve had a few more lines recorded for each character during the actual gameplay (how many times can you hear “HULK SMASH ALL THERE IS!” before it becomes tiresome?).

The gameplay is everything you would expect from an action RPG with some characters being much better than others and the new Fusion feature makes for some awesome team up moves like the classic “Fastball Special”. Since Colossus isn’t a playable character though, the Hulk, Thing, or Juggernaut (GameStop pre-orders only) stand-in for Wolverine’s X-men tin can teammate. There are a few minor glitches with your characters or enemies sometimes becoming trapped in corners and force you to switch characters to get them out, but aside from that, the game is relatively smooth.

The replay value is also very strong for the game because the only way to unlock everything would be to play through at least twice, once pro-registration and once anti-registration. Of course, the course you choose also affects the characters you can play with. Anyone familiar with the story arcs shouldn’t be surprised that only by choosing anti-registration can they get Luke Cage, Captain America, and Iron Fist and that only by choosing pro-registration can they get Iron Man, Songbird, and Mr. Fantastic.

Of course, once you beat the game one time through, you can play the second time through with any of the 25 playable characters as well as unlock the hardest difficulty. The best team to do that in the least amount of time would be Wolverine, Deadpool, Hulk, and Iron Fist. I don’t know why Iron Fist is as strong as he is, but he’s one of the best characters in the game because he can heal your entire team and Wolverine and Deadpool have healing factors, which makes the trio nearly impossible to kill. And then there is the Hulk (only available at the beginning if you get the game from Best Buy) and like I said before: HULK SMASH ALL THERE IS. Enough said.

In the end, anyone who is a comics fan and followed these story arcs should get this game because it is awesome to see the comics come to life and to see the various personalities of the Marvel Universe mix and mingle on your TV. I’m looking forward to MUA 3 even more now because I still want to see Galactus!

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 8.0: This gets a slightly better than average score because the cut scenes are awesome, but the regular gameplay graphics are okay at best because of having so many enemies on screen at one time to prevent lag. Typical of these games, but I still have to call them on it.

Audio: 9.0: Great voice acting mixed in with great sound effects make this a strong score, but the music was generic for the most part. The MUA 2 theme for the game was really good though so the audio gets a great score overall.

Plot/Plot Development: 6.5: MUA 2 gets a barely passing score on plot because two-thirds of the game isn’t original whatsoever. They then made up an ending that was so far from the comics it is ridiculous, just to bring everyone together so that they can make a third game with a plot they hinted at in the first game should the opportunity present itself. It passes though because at least they stayed relatively true to the parts they did steal straight from the comics.

Gameplay: 7.0: This game is a button masher, plain and simple. You press the same couple of buttons to attack and occasionally team up with your pals to do it, but overall there isn’t a lot of depth to the gameplay. Add in a couple of glitches and it is okay at best.

Replay Value: 10.0: Needing to play through the game twice to unlock everyone and everything, along with 4 play online co-op and more collectibles than I can remember and there is a lot to bring you back to this game. It will take you probably 25-30 hours to find everything in the game if you play through it twice.

Overall (not an average): 7.5: Even though it isn’t the prettiest game, or the most original, the game is still good. Not great and definitely not ground-breaking, but if you are a fan of the Marvel universe, you will definitely enjoy this game. Add in some great surprises at the end and you will walk away with a smile on your face.

-Ray Carsillo