By: Jeff Cater
Some of you may recall a battle between the ultimate forces of good and the incarnation of pure evil in which heroes of this Earth saved us from certain… Doom. Dr. Doom to be specific. Originally released in 2006 by Activision and Raven Software, Zoe Mode brings the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series that rocked our PS3s and 360s and blistered many a thumb with a revisit to the game and its sequel in a high definition re-release.
Please note that, although you can purchase each game separately, this review will be of the two games together as the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Bundle.
Regardless of which game you’re playing the controls are definitely responsive and very basic. To jump, you’ll press Triangle and depending on your hero you may tap it again to either fly or swing. On the offensive side, you’ve got the “X” button for your weaker, quick strikes and Circle for your chargeable power attack. To access super powers, you’ll pull the right trigger to toggle and the corresponding face button for your desired attack.
In the sequel, you can also pull the left trigger and pull off a Fusion Move by combining key powers of characters together, like webbing up Wolverine with Spider-Man and using him as a clawed wrecking ball. In general, you can zoom the camera in and out and rotate it with the right stick, but in the sequel it often restricts camera movement and sets it a tad far back for my taste.
Although the cinematics could’ve used a bit more HD-ifying, the rest of the game looks pretty damn good. Don’t go in expecting fully reworked special effects and all that, but everything does look better.
Ever gone back to play a game and it doesn’t look like you remember? The treatment Marvel: Ultimate Alliance received makes the game look like you’d probably remember it. The textures on the environments are sharpened up quite a bit, but the real attention to detail was given to the characters. Carnage looks more Carnage-y, Iron Man shines more brightly; they all just look wonderful.
Each game features a decent soundtrack that generally gets lost in the chaotic sounds of combat, which isn’t all that bad because the games are great fun. The voice work could’ve been cleaned up a bit too, so that it matches the quality impressed by the visuals, but that’s not the case.
Man, these games are just a blast. In each game, Dr. Doom has set up a doomsday-proportion attack and it’s up to you to assemble a group of heroes to stop him. After you complete a short introduction / tutorial, you’ll begin to unlock heroes and villains to expand your tactics with.
Simply, you’ll definitely be able to find a kickass team composition that you’re happy with and will be summarily rewarded for doing so. As you dispatch your foes and the environment around you, you will gain coins and points to put toward upgrading your characters’ costumes as well as unlocking brand new ones.
The great, simple gameplay is complemented by allowing you to bring three friends along for the bash-fest, and you can likely knock each game out in a dedicated evening session. It’s short and sweet, but it’s also extremely easy to grant additional playthroughs because it’s great fun exploring different combinations of heroes and leveling them all up.
While the story is full of interactions between unlikely matchups in the Marvel universe, the story is pretty thin. Dr. Doom is doing bad shit, go stop him. The second game mixes it up a bit by introducing a conspiracy plot involving Nick Fury and his questionable tactics and information control during the first game, and it sets many of the heroes in a position of distrust with the general public.
There’s nothing better than rocking around with a couple of pals and giving the bad guys the old what-how with Spidey and his pals, and it’s a remarkable thing to see this game actually get a release on current platforms. Whether you missed out the first time or simply need an excuse to revisit it, the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Bundle is well worth getting.