It’s hard to explain why Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is one of my most anticipated games of 2009 without sounding like a dribbling fanboy twit. Yes, I know it’s not game of the year material, but there’s something so overpoweringly appealing about it, so kinetically-charged playing cards and flying Norse Gods brilliant about it, that it has me more excited than Bizarre Creations’ Blur and Raven Software’s Singularity and Wolfenstein and pretty much anything else mega-publisher Activision’s got up it’s sleeve for the rest of the year. That’s right. I’d rather play Vicarious Visions’ MUA2 than Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2.
Call me stupid, call me dumb, call me whatever you like. I don’t care. All I want to do is crush thousands of generic bad guys to smithereens, smash up hundreds of Havok physics-powered crates and fusion power the crap out of everything on the entire screen. I’m shallow, I know. But at least I’m honest.
And breathe - time to actually play the damn thing. The pre-alpha code on show here at Activision’s UK office is ropey as hell. It’s prone to crashes, loss of sound, glitches and loops, but none of those technical hiccups matter. One) they’ll be gone for the final release, scheduled for this September, and two) I’m having too much fun spamming the game into oblivion with as many different fusion combinations as possible.
This, I imagine, will be the most fun thing about the game: Picking a character from the ever-growing roster of Marvel superheroes and villains and triggering fusion powers with each and every one of your four-man team just to see what happens. This is what I spent the majority of my time doing during my play test. This is what I call fun.
By pressing the left trigger you’re able to select who you want to partner up with, then let fly. The game tells you what type of fusion power it is: whether it’s a single-target power – useful for bosses, like Deadpool – continuous – useful for running around the map smashing into anything and everything that gets in your way - or area of effect fusion powers – mash buttons to make the AOE circle bigger and suck more enemies in. You can’t spam them of course – fusion power needs to be built up over time, but it never takes too long to do so.
So, for example, when French (why wasn’t he French in the Wolverine film?) X-Man Gambit and the hulking great, er… Hulk combine, the green-skinned monster rips a huge lump of concrete straight out of the ground and Gambit charges it with kinetic energy. Boom.
When the hammer-wielding Thor combines with occasionally psychotic X-babe Jean Grey, she sucks a bunch of enemies into a vortex of telekinetic power before the big man comes storming in with a powerful hammer blow. Kaboom.