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We actually enjoyed Marvel: Ultimate Alliance the first time round. Sure, it was daft seeing superheroes flummoxed by a simple plywood door, and the gameplay was a tad repetitive but, as a comic book crossover, the game was entertaining enough.
But if ever a sequel was needed to address a few issues and give us the game the original arguably should have been in the first place, it's this. So let's rename the original 'Marvel Penultimate Alliance' and take a look at why this is the real 'ultimate' Marvel Alliance.
1) The team-up moves will be so good you'll want to see them all
Every character can team up with every character, producing some 250 different special attacks. So if you feel like recreating Wolverine and Colossus' patented Fastball Special, there's nothing to stop you.
Above: Do this and watch every bad guy in the room crumple to the floor
We saw Iron Man's Repulsor Beam dispersed through a gem held aloft by Songbird (as pictured above) as well as Iron Fist lifting up Human Torch who emits a line of flame and turns in a circle, razing the ground and enemies around him. Ol' Torchy (as no-one calls him) also gets involved in a whirlwind move which you can see in the released trailer. The great news here is that the whirling cyclone is player controlled as it moves around the level. Sounds sweet.
2) Everyone you could want is in this time
According to Brinton Williams, Associate Producer at Activision, there will be "at least" 24 characters playable in the game in teams of four. We assume that will be the starting line-up with loads more to unlock and/or download.
He enthusiastically added: "whoever you want to see, whoever you want to be, they'll be in the game". That's not a 'should' be in the game, it's a 'will'. So let's just see if Diamondhead is in there - he was always our favourite. Oh yes.
The designers have been able to shoehorn pretty much anyone and everyone into the game's plot by creating a superhero civil war. After an incident with high collateral damage (where 600 died including some children), the government wants all Supers to register as weapons of mass destruction. Some agree, others don't. So you can pick your side in the war with anybody... except for four key figures who are locked to their respective sides to keep the plot moving: Iron Man, Mr Fantastic (Security side), Captain America and Luke Cage (Freedom side).
3) The destruction has been ramped up
The new game uses the Havoc physics engine to deliver vastly improved destruction in the game's environments. That whirlwind attack picks up not only park benches and other street furniture, but even your enemies. The trailers also show entire buildings exploding, although these look too good to be in-game… but you never know.
Above: Cars in the streets have several stages of damage and all can be hurled by the stronger characters
4) There will be way more enemies on-screen
They're not kidding, either. While the action we saw never reached the screen-filling activity of a Dynasty Warriors title or Ninety-Nine Nights, there's a much greater sense of 'you versus a shed-load of bad guys'. The characters can look a little small at times, as the camera needs to pull back to keep all four heroes in view at once, but the close-up detail is there.
The graphical fidelity doesn't seem to have been compromised though, with a great sense of texture and depth in the bricks that make up the streets around Doctor Doom's lab - the first area of the game.
5) It'll have online co-op
The first game only had local multiplayer, but the 360 and PS3 versions at least will feature full online co-op play. Aside from four key characters including Iron Man and Captain America, you can assemble a team from any of the remaining superheroes for your online team. All we need now is decently acted cutscenes and we'll have ourselves a winner…
Above: A single camera to pose to and Hulk's forgotten all about the fight
The game doesn't have a firm release date yet, but we're told it should be out before the end of the year.
9 April 2009