Having shared my thoughts about the original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance game in this morning's review, I thought I would go ahead now and talk about is sequel. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a button mashing, top-down-ish action-RPG that gives you a lot to do and an enjoyable cast of characters to do it with.
Upon seeing the announcement that the two Ultimate Alliance games were getting an HD re-release, I had multiple questions. Some were about the games themselves. How much would the graphics be improved? Would the gameplay itself just be a straight port or would there be other enhancements? Would the DLC be included? I had all of these and more, but thankfully I was able to get them answered in short order.
Like the other Ultimate Alliance title, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a pretty straight port. The graphics get a bit of an upgrade, but this title is several years old and that still shows through. Thankfully the improvements are useful as I recall it could sometimes be a challenge to spot things in the environment when I first played these games. Maybe it is the improved clarity in the graphics and the bigger screen I am playing the games on, but it seems as though I run into those issues far less frequently than I remember. It is also worth noting that the framerate is improved, and while this is not a game that really benefits greatly from a snappy 60 frames, I certainly won't complain about it either. Additionally, this game includes the DLC (which the first title did not upon release - which I find a little baffling). Is it still worth forty dollars for a game nearly a decade old? Your mileage will likely vary, but I for one had enough fun playing this title that I am comfortable recommending it to Marvel fans who enjoy action-RPG games.
The action component comes from the Diablo-esque combat. You construct a party of four characters from an overall party of 24, navigating all kinds of different landscapes and taking on hordes of enemies. The first Ultimate Alliance game had a pretty bland story, but Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 ups the anti quite a bit by building it around the popular Civil War comic series. I find myself wondering if this is the reason for the timing of this re-release, given the recent Civil War movie and its impending release on Blu-ray next month (though the comic version varies quite a bit from the cinematic one).
The action can come across as somewhat mindless at first, since you are essentially mashing away with melee attacks or sniping enemies with ranged ones, but do not mistake its arcade feel for a shallow experience. With a good story as the backbone here, improved combat options and a seemingly endless number of ways to customize your characters and progress their skills and stats, there is a ton to do here and I have always found the formula to be an addictive one.
While both Ultimate Alliance games offer cooperative play, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is the superior experience with smoother controls and more creative use of powers (the fusions). The ability to hop online with friends and play it together is a great one, and while time may have diminished the presentation of the game, the core multiplayer experience still holds up really, really well.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a more polished game than its predecessor. Some of the nagging bugs from the first game were cleaned up, level design is better and there is simply more to do. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 took everything that I enjoyed about the first game and made it even better - precisely what a sequel is supposed to do, yet so often time fails to accomplish. Is this re-release right for you? It probably depends on if you already own it for the previous generation or not, given the forty dollar price tag (or sixty if you buy the bundle). I enjoyed my time with it, logging over a dozen hours and happily searching for collectibles and improving my characters.
Article by Nick