This is a review of Marvel's Ultimate alliance. I play it on the 360 and I have beaten the game on normal mode and have unlocked *all* of the marvel characters without any cheat codes.
I will give this game credit where credit is due. Who ever designed this game is a fan of comic books and has spent a long time aquiring comic knowledge. It paid most of its attention to classic Marvel comics and doesn't adhere to the ultimate marvel line at all. Doing so would be an easy fix.
Anyways the game in my mind rates a 9. Its fun, you feel compelled to keep playing though to the end of the game and you really want to unlock hidden characters. Unfortunately the mini games are pretty mind numbingly easy and seem to be quickly concocted as an escuse to give you something to do in between punching things repeatedly,
What it lacks in mini games it makes up for in playable characters. There are 18 characters (Moon Knight and Colossus are not playable on ps2) that you can play with and 6 of them are unlockable. Each character has thier own set of powers and its the aquirement of those powers that keeps the game interesting. You start off with Wolverine, Thor, Captain America and Spiderman but after the first board you can switch to other characters.
Playable characters on 360 include Captain America, Colossus, Deadpool, Electra, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Mr. Fantastic, Mrs. Marvel, Spiderman, Spider-woman, Storm, Thing, Thor & Wolverine. Unlockable characters include Black Panther, Blade, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Nick Fury, & Silver Surfer.
Each Character (except silver surfer who still has variations of suit powers) has 4 costumes which changes thier appearance and minor powers. For example Spiderman has Classic, Ultimate, Ironman spidey armor and Symbiote suit. Classic spiderman has damage reflection and increased web damage and symbiote costume has increased Melee dmg and increased web damage. Spider-woman comes with SPIDER-GIRL costume for all her fans.
The game play is the same engine as X-men II rise of Apocalypse and if you liked that game you will like this one. It has a better story board than X-men II though and marvel fans will appreciate that. The various button combos may be a bit confusing to a new player but its not so bad that I couldnt lead a second player through the game. I showed my 52 year old father in law and my 8 year old nephew how to play with me and they did a very good job for newbies. (I didnt take the nephew into Mephisto's realm though, his parents wouldn't appreaciate the going to hell portion of the game).
I played as Spiderman, Thor, Captain AMerica and Deadpool. I generally played as Spiderman but during boss fights I would switch to Captain America for up close and dirty fighting. However it was -always- Deadpool who would pull my butt out of a nasty boss fight where all my other fighters died. It seemed like Deadpool just could not die due to healing factor.
There are a few glitches in the game though, like if you engadge a boss and start to get beaten you can run out of the room and look for stuff to smash to heal up (Or deadpools healing factor) and the boss usually wont follow you through an open door. On a bridge that flings fireballs at you, you can hug the far wall and not worry about being hit at all.
There are a few mini-games to solve to unlock boards but they are no problem to figure out, much too easy at times. There are also hidden disks that you can find in game to open mini-battles with in game rewards. If you finish all of them well enough you will unlock silver surfer. There is a Trivia game in each act of the game (5 acts) and if your a marvel fan you should have no problem answering most of these questions.
The Boss battles range from fighting one enemy (scorpion) all the way up to fighting multiple bosses at the same time (The whole Wrecking Crew or Dark FF) There are mini-games during boss fights where you have to follow a bunch of random button presses to harm the enemy to massive building sized villains (Fin Fang Foom, Kraken, Galactus and more!) who require you not only to deal with a mini-games to lower thier invulnerability but tons of henchmen which pore out of the woodwork. Theres even a boss mini-game where Modok quizes you on scientific know how before you can battle him and each wrong answer gets you electrified.
This game is better with a buddy than solo. Another great option was 360 online gaming. This is where 360 shines. Unlike all the other game systems this game gets better when you can actually verbally communicate with the 3 other people you are playing with. Yes you are going to end up gaming with some miserable players, or your going to end up with someone who only stays online for 10 mins then hops out screwing up the online game from time to time. But once in a while you get a real gem to play and you play for hours with a smile on your face. I would only ask that people could join an online game after it has started and someone has left the game because once your in your in and no one else can take your spot once you leave.
There is an obvious plot in the end that will lead into Ultimate Alliance II and with that being said here are the things that I would ask be added to the game.
1. There needs to be more of a difference between characters than just area of effect attacks, strong attacks, boosts and defence. There need to be characters whose powers are useful in tying up entire room fulls of henchmen so the rest of the team can deal with them better, like spiderman should focus on webbing guys down at a distance.
2. Add more characters, I need Vision (who is an npc in the game who answers pre-established questions), wonderman, The Thunderbolts, Nova, Speedball, Captain Marvel ect. ANd where the heck is Hawkeye!? You cant have an ultimate alliance without Hawkeye!
This is a great game and will warrant at least 2 play throughs for me. I suggest that to keep the game interesting you dont use any cheat codes. The only exception to this is the unlock all costumes codes (Because you may want to play as spidergirl or US AGent) right from the beginning. When you have beaten the game on normal and have unlocked everyone except for the silver surfer use the cheat code to unlock all characters because beating 35 mini games isnt worth it to get silver surfer even though he is the strongest char in the game.
This game is a 9.2 out of 10.