introduction to the Incredible Hulk was through the TV series in the late 70's,
rather than through the Marvel comic books of the 60's. This is fortunate in a way, in that I'm not a
purist and don't really care about "authenticity" in some of the more
recent iterations of the character. That
said, I hated the 2003 Ang Lee movie and have never been able to sit through
the entire 2 1/2 hours of it. The
primary problem: not enough destruction!
So, I was
leery of accepting the assignment to review The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate
Destruction, although the title itself indicated that this game may deliver
what I consider to be the best aspects of the Hulk. Being somewhat slight of build myself, any
story involving the transformation of a relatively small guy into a huge
seething mass of organic destruction appeals to me. But only as long as the focus is on the anger
and rampage aspects, not the "normal" state of the little fella. I get enough of that already, thank you very
much. Between that and my fear that this
game would be another typical platformer that wastes the Hulk license like
Maurice Clarett wasted a shot at the NFL, I loaded up the game with a fairly
low level of expectation.
blown away. Caught completely by
surprise. Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. In a good way, mind you.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction as Grand Theft Auto: Senseless
Destruction and you'll have an idea of what this game is like. Much like GTA, you can simply meander about
the city doing pretty much anything you'd like, although you will eventually
incur the wrath of law enforcement. Or
you can accept missions to further the underlying story line. One of my pet peeves (and granted, I keep pet
peeves like a 96 year old widow keeps cats) is being forced into a linear
storyline in which I feel more like a passenger than a driver. I heartily approve of some of the newer
paradigm games where the game designers don't insist that they are the only
ones that know how to have fun, and insist that it's their way or the
highway. At first, I had a great time
simply breaking everything, and I do mean everything, in my path. Cars, trucks, people, light poles, and just
about everything else in the city can be picked up, crushed, or thrown. Light poles make fantastic over-sized
baseball bats for hitting cops and pedestrians great distances. That’s so fun, in fact, that there’s even a
side challenge or two related to that activity.
break things, you earn smash points which can be traded for even stronger
powers and moves. My favorite power is
the ability to pick up a car, rip it in half, and use the halves as 1000lb.
boxing gloves. Quite entertaining, that. There are also some amusing things you can do
with pedestrians, such as picking them up and either flicking them away, or
putting them gently back down and patting them on their heads. It’s always fun to play a game designed and
developed by people with quirky senses of humor.
though, it's time to start playing the missions. These are a mixed blessing. Completing the missions allows you to advance
the storyline, bringing on more of the excellent animations and voice acting,
but at the cost of somewhat repetitive missions. Many seem to be either of the “go destroy
this” variety or the less gratifying “go retrieve and protect this” genre. Because you can find and destroy anything you
want, whenever you want, being tasked to destroy specific things is somewhat
redundant. And playing defense simply
isn’t what I’d consider a Hulktastic good time.
Still, there are benefits. You
get to fight some truly awesome bad guys, and continue to amaze yourself with
the incredible powers at your fingertips.
There are also side challenges available, so between those and the
storyline missions there are over 70 chances to wreak havoc on your opponents. Because of the open nature of the playing
field, there are multiple ways to complete many of the missions. One of my favorites involved liberating a
huge, blue ape from a pole in front of a store and using it as a rudimentary
hang glider to float over some stuff I was tasked with destroying. I timed my jump from the ape perfectly and
landed right on top of the equipment I needed to destroy. That provided another of the many
laugh-out-loud moments I’ve had while playing Hulk.
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