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The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction review

Excellent

A developer could spend a small lifetime weaving an intricate, complex storyline around the most photorealistic environments and lifelike characters imaginable, but the truth is that most gamers are happy to just crash around smashing things to pieces.

Why watch Newsnight Review when The World's Sexiest Police Chases is on the other channel? The Incredible Hulk isn't setting benchmarks or raising bars but it is a smashed-up-truckload of joyous low-brow fun - the gaming equivalent of popping bubblewrap or watching Celebrity Love Island.

Why's it so good? Because it makes you feel powerful. Amble down a busy street and cars skid off the road, people scurry away screaming and your immense green feet leave cracks in the pavement.

That's you just walking - when things kick off and you're picking up tanks and throwing them at helicopters, it's like the end of the world. This is no mere approximation of The Hulk's abilities like his enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing, last game. Flames, rubble and bodies fly everywhere.

His powers are amazing. You can pick up a car, snap it in two and use each half as a pair of gauntlets, you can slide through the streets on the back of a bus and level entire buildings with your fists.

Better yet, destroying objects gives you smash points which can then be traded at Bruce Banner's hideout for even more attacks, including a punt kick (gently chip cars and other heavy objects into the air with your big green toe), the ability to use round things as chaos-causing bowling balls and dozens more.

By the end of the game The Hulk is damn-near unstoppable.

The biggest surprise, however, is how gracefully The Hulk moves. He has all the speed and agility of Spider-Man, albeit in a different, more destructive, way.

Thanks to his extra-strong legs, he can leap miles into the air and, by charging up and timing it properly, you can 'chain jump' and soar across the city as easily as in Spider-Man 2.

He can climb or run up walls too by pressing circle and R1 respectively, not to mention dashing through the air to change direction mid-jump and careering downwards, fist primed for an almighty, earth-shattering crash.

The missions themselves take place within two immense environments - the city and the badlands.

The city is, predictably, a sprawling metropolis with towering skycrapers and busy streets full of cars and civilians while the badlands is a vast expanse of desert that contains a heavily-guarded military base and a small backwater town.

Both play host to story and optional side-missions that you pick up by walking into spinning markers scattered around the area.

Between missions you have free reign to do whatever you like, which is ample opportunity to collect smash points.

The optional challenge missions vary between rescuing people from burning buildings, racing across the city as quickly as possible and destroying swathes of enemies before a timer runs out.

Standard fare, but ideal if you lack sufficient smash points to buy some of the more expensive special attacks.

Boss battles are also a joy, being scraps with gargantuan enemies including flying, missile-lobbing mechs.

This is where Hulk's helpful targeting system comes in handy, letting you lock-on specific areas of an enemy. Hold R1 and flick between targets using the right stick. Simple and reliable, which is more than can be said for most third-person games, even the mighty San Andreas.

In all honesty, the only thing really wrong with Ultimate Destruction is simply that, when it comes down to it, it's yet another third-person, GTA-inspired action/adventure.

There's no real progression, no major surprises - just a good, strong exercise in pure, unadulterated entertainment.

It's easily one of the best superhero games and, although it might frustrate from time to time, it's wonderfully-designed, gorgeous-looking and utterly compelling to play. Which is all that really matters, right?

The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction is out now for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube

Almost the best superhero game on PS2, but let down by the fact that - when you get down to it - we've seen it all before. Still, you should definitely give it a shot

More Info

Release date: Aug 23 2005 - Xbox, PS2, GameCube (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox, PS2, GameCube
Genre: Action
Developed by: Radical Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Language, Violence

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