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Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ack in 2004, "X-Men Legends" was released across a handful of consoles. This four-player RPG action brawler quickly found it's own niche and made quite an impression on its fans. Now, five years, three sequels, a name change and a new company later, comes the latest release to the saga, "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.”
As the story goes, after the death of Dr. Doom, a new leader, Lucia Von Bardas is elected to run Latveria. As Latveria strives to improve foreign relations and help improve the overall image of the country that Dr. Doom tarnished, Nick Fury knows everything isn't as great as it seems. Fury leads a team of super heroes to destroy Latveria's secret weapon project and bring Lucia Von Bardas to justice. All goes according to plan until you find out that Nick Fury's black ops mission was not sanctioned by the U.S. A subsequent retaliation attack from Von Bardas sets discussions into motion to have mutants/super heroes forced to register with the government or face criminal charges.
This causes a massive rift within the hero population which splits nearly everyone into one of two factions. On one side you have Captain America, who fights against the bill, as he sees it as an infringement on freedom and everything he's fought to uphold. On the other side of the coin, you have Iron Man, who fights to uphold the bill, to help regulate and properly train heroes for the safety of the nation. At this point in the story you get to choose which side you wish to fight for, which treats you to one of two stories and also changes a few boosts you can level on your characters. It also blocks you from using a few key members from the opposing side; the Cap, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for the Anti-Registration team and Iron Man, Mister Fantastic and Songbird for the Pro-Registration side.
If you've every played one of these games before, you will be very familiar with the overall experience, as very little is changed in each one. You run around smashing villains, boxes, doors and pretty much anything else that gets in your way. This is not to say that there was nothing new added to the mix; the flagship of change is their new ability to fuse two heroes’ special moves into one massive attack. While this is indeed a lot of fun and a great addition, it is a bit thin. A lot of the fusion attacks are often repetitive as there are only three different types of fusion attacks. One is a strong focused attack which is best used on bosses or stronger enemies. Then there is Clearing, a massive Area of Effect (AoE) attack that is obviously best used for clearing a large group of weaker enemies. Finally, there is Guided, which is a constant attack similar to the Clearing attack, but mobile and great for taking out a hallway of enemies.
There are 23 heroes in the game (24 if you got it from GameStop) – some veterans to the series and some fresh faces. New to the series is Green Goblin, Songbird, Penance and Ms. Marvel, but sadly, there are a lot of characters from the previous games missing. This is one of those evils that come with marketplace content as they have already announced to sell more characters in the future. To make things even more annoying, just like the first “Marvel Ultimate Alliance,” the game contains different characters depending on what system you have. Cyclops, Psylocke, Blade, Sentry and She-Hulk are all characters that were not available on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.
Graphics have been drastically improved and certain characters have amazing detail work; Green Goblin comes to mind. The environments have also been blessed with the graphic overhaul. Sadly, the game is still plagued with bad camera problems and players are still tethered to one screen, which is probably the most annoying problem that still continues to bog down the button-mashing franchise. There still remains plenty of fun to be had here, even if certain aspects of the game could have been polished a bit more. There are characters to unlock, alternate costumes, two story lines, four different difficulties, and tons of items to collect. If you enjoyed "Marvel Ultimate Alliance," then you should enjoy it's sequel. If not, don't expect a different outcome.