If ever there was a game that played just as you'd imagine it's The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction. The Incredible Hulk is known for his amazing strength and the ability to let nothing stand in his way, and the game just about delivers on all fronts. Developed by Radical Entertainment, the people behind the 2003 game based on Ang Lee's movie, Ultimate Destruction is a rather different beast. They've discarded the rather dire Bruce Banner sections, leaving what is essentially a constant stream of total destruction. The game has one main idea and rides with it, and for the most part delivers a joyously entertaining gaming experience.
At the start of the game Bruce Banner's hideout is destroyed by an army of soldiers led by NSA operative Emil Blonsky. While Bruce escapes, a machine that he hoped would help find a cure to his hulkness is destroyed, setting up the game's story. Emil Blonsky, as you may gather from his attack on Bruce, hates all gamma-eradiated creatures, but while attempting to retrieve a vile of radioactive material from what was left of banners destroyed machine he is flooded with a massive dose of gamma rays. Bruce, as Hulk, must search for items that can be used to rebuild the machine, while the now gamma eradiated Blonsky continuously tries to take him out.
If you've played Activision's Spider-man 2, Ultimate Destruction will initially feel somewhat similar. A wide-open, free-roaming environment for the superhero to run around in is presented to the player, but what you do in it couldn't be further away from the gameplay found in Spidey's game. There are two types of missions in the game: Story and Challenge. Story missions must be completed in order to progress through the game, but Challenge missions can be attempted in order to earn more smash points. Smash points can be used to buy new special moves that come in useful against the more powerful enemies. Story missions have hulk predominantly destroying or protecting things, and Challenge missions range from checkpoint races to long jump contests.
'Boss fights present the biggest challenge in an already challenging game...'
A church outside of the city acts as your base, with Hulk returning there to buy new moves and to drop off any collected items that he finds in the city. From the church Hulk can jump to various points in the city and the badlands (a desert area with numerous military bases). When chapters to the story come to an end the church area will also show a boss fight symbol, which must be completed to progress to the next chapter. Boss fights present the biggest challenge in an already challenging game and don't rely on random destruction as much as the standard missions. They're still great fun though, and are often quite epic in size.
Moving around the city is great fun. Hulk can reach a pretty high top speed, run up buildings and jump huge distances. Simply running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop is immense fun and doing so while on the run from an army of missile firing attack choppers is even better. The badlands environment isn't quite as fun to play around in, but it's still entertaining, and the few other areas that you visit later in the game mix things up a little. Even so, a few more areas, or a larger city would have given the game a little more variety. Certain missions will see the weather or time of day change, but the environments are essentially still the same.
Ultimate Destruction couldn't be a more apt title for the game as literally everything you see can be destroyed and in a lot of cases used as weapons - even huge structures can be totalled as you move into latter parts of the game, making you feel just like the ridiculously powerful oversized green man. Small touches like being able to pick up and throw goats as weapons and hitting missiles back at the helicopter that fired them make the destruction element to Hulk constantly entertaining, and the game remains satisfying to play for its entirety.
Ultimate Destruction's free-roaming and destructible environment is great, but it has come at cost to the game's level of visual polish. Buildings and other environment objects are rather basic in their design, textures could be more detailed, and pop-up rears its ugly head now and again. Hulk looks pretty good though and his moves are animated excellently. All three versions of the game also have widescreen support so you can get more carnage onto the screen.
The game's audio is suitably boomy, with a great score that really gets going during moments of intense action, and plenty of explosions and crashes can be heard as Hulk tears through the environment. There's also some good voice acting from Hollywood actors Ron Perlman and Neal McDonough who voice Emil Blonsky and Bruce Banner respectively.
For the most part the endless destruction is pretty damn cool and there is some good variety to missions that see you doing things that you'd want to do as Hulk in a videogame (we won't ruin the surprises for you). There are, however, a few protect missions that aren't much fun, plus enemy AI and the game's camera can cause a few problems. Mission briefings also seem to be rather a copout, being presented with a simple voice over and text, but given the number of missions in the game this is understandable.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is almost exactly as you'd hope a game based on the Incredible Hulk would be. Being the Hulk should be fun and the game delivers it in spades. A few minor problems don't hamper your enjoyment and anyone with even a passing fondness to a bit of action would struggle to play the game without a big grin permanently slapped across their face.