Marvel Ultimate Alliance PlayStation 3
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Raven Software
Release Date: Out Now
A multitude of Marvel characters have been used in many games over the years. Some of these games have been downright stinkers but others have actually been very enjoyable. Take the X-Men Legends titles for instance. These action-RPG titles proved to be very enjoyable and very popular. It's no surprise then that this winning formula has been used to create a game that allows you to play with many more of Marvel's Super Heroes. Marvel Ultimate Alliance contains over 20 Marvel Super Heroes and caters nicely for both your single-player and multiplayer needs, whether they be offline or online.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance sees Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil once again wreaking havoc. Colonel Nick Fury has assembled an impressive group of Super Heroes to counter this threat. To make things interesting you'll find that Dr. Doom has a long list of allies that will do his evil deeds. Marvel Ultimate Alliance allows you to play through the main story on your own or with three others. Four-player gaming is supported offline as well as online and in both cases it can be enjoyable. Multiplayer games can either be played in a co-operative fashion or in a competitive fashion (Arcade Mode) where the game tracks the performance of each player and at the end of each level you'll be told who is the 'Most Valuable Hero'.
At any one time you'll take charge of a team of four Super Heroes (you'll begin with Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor) and you'll have direct control of one of these four and you can switch between these four characters at any time by pressing the relevant directional button. Each Super Hero has their own unique moves and special powers. Different costumes can be unlocked for each character and these costumes not only change the appearance of each of the characters but also their abilities. As your characters level-up, they will gain extra powers and you'll come across a variety of special items that can boost their powers.
There is well over twenty Super Heroes in the game and although quite a few are initially locked you do have quite a few who you can choose from. Ms. Marvel, Iceman, The Thing, Spider-Woman, and Elektra are just some that can be bought into your team of four when you reach a S.H.I.E.L.D. Access Point. Being able to choose your team of four is one of the more appealing aspects of the game. Certain team configurations have special bonuses, which is a nice touch. Of course with so many team configurations you're going to want to play through the main storyline at least a couple of times to have a chance of playing with all the different characters and experiment with all of the team configurations, which can only be a good thing.
Given that this is the PlayStation 3 version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance we're looking at, the graphics aren't as good as they could have been. The character models look good enough; the various environments in the game all look good too. The problem is that whilst they look good, they don't really impress. Most disappointing of all is the frame rate which at times is annoying sluggish. Of course this sluggishness doesn't affect the game in any way but it's disappointing to see a game, which really shouldn't be taxing the PlayStation 3, not running smoothly. On the plus side, the game supports both 720p and 1080p and the game does look a little nicer when running on a HD display. If you don't have access to a HD display you'll be pleased to learn that the game also looks fine on a normal TV set.
Thankfully Marvel Ultimate Alliance is subtitled. The cutscenes are subtitled and the subtitles are displayed in white text placed on a darkened overlay for maximum clarity. The cutscene subtitles don't have any character names or portraits displayed next to them, so it's not always possible to know who is saying what. All important dialogue outside of the cutscenes has character names and portraits and here there is no problem understanding who is saying what. There are some comments made from the characters during combat that aren't subtitled but none of it is important and its absence doesn't harm the experience at all. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. You're also notified when objectives have been completed. Text notifications are also given when your characters level up and when bonuses have been unlocked.
Given how popular the X-Men Legends titles have been, it stands to reason that many gamers out there have been looking forward to Marvel Ultimate Alliance. For the most part the game is a successful follow on from the X-Men Legends series and it's fair to say that fans of those games will enjoy what Marvel Ultimate Alliance has to offer. In some respects the game does disappoint. The frame rate is poor at times and the motion-sensing support for the Sixaxis controller feels tacked-on and I suspect most will choose to disable these controls. Disappointments aside though, I have to admit the game is enjoyable as a single-player game and more so as a multiplayer experience. With its support for offline and online co-operative play it's currently one of the better PlayStation 3 multiplayer experiences currently available.
Fans of the Marvel Super Heroes are going to love Marvel Ultimate Alliance, especially for the multiplayer experience. Those who are just looking for an enjoyable action-RPG should also give Marvel Ultimate Alliance a look.