Marvel: Ultimate Alliance


posted 12/13/2006 by Ben Berry
other articles by Ben Berry
One Page Platforms: Xbox
The characters are for the most part some of the biggest names of the Marvel universe, with a few less popular characters, such as Ms. Marvel, thrown in to add some extra dimension for the true comic aficionado. The problem is that every character is basically the same. They all start out very week, and have no discernable differences in their powers. Every hero has a melee power, a distance attack power, and a power good against multiple opponents, and a high-end ultra power that can only be activated after a certain number of bad guys have been hacked and slashed to bits. Through killing multiple low-end mobs, experience is gained and powers are leveled. Also powers can be enhanced through purchasing upgrades or finding random character stat upgrades just lying around. (Note to self: when beginning world conquest, lock up or destroy all power upgrades for super heroes, do not just throw them on the floor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, or in nice little display cases in Castle Doom.) Carrying on with the “Danger Room” tradition from XML are training discs found throughout Ultimate Alliance, which are specific to each hero. These discs give you a chance to play in solo combat, reliving a mission from the past of the hero you’ve chosen. The reward for completion of this mission ranges from power ups to new costume unlocks. Finally, at various stages in the game, players are rewarded with costume add-ons that will further buff the characters chosen to wear them, sometimes dramatically so.
While the battles against the bad guys in the game are mostly hack and slash, the level bosses are quite a bit different. Each level boss, except the last can only be beaten through mini-game puzzle combat. Frankly, it’s not good. When I send heroes up against Galactus and other top-level baddies, I want a challenge, not simply a series of “Simon Says” style button exercises. At least the final baddie is a mostly four on one combat, pitting your team against the leader of the alliance of super villains, but by that point at least two of your characters are so buffed, that the opponents attacks do little to no damage, and the combat doesn’t last all that terribly long as you hack away with your ultra attacks and specials.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say to pay attention to the secondary goals in each mission, as there is a neat add-in based on these missions when the final battle is complete.
In conclusion, the game is fun, but it feels like just more of the same play we’ve seen in the prior two games. In future games, the heroes power balancing needs to be radically adjusted. Iron Man should be able to fly easily carrying heavy crates he struggles to push around. Not every character should be so clearly designed to be able to “do it all”. They should all have weaknesses to their individual skills that require being a part of the Ultimate Alliance necessary to complete the tasks at hand. Also, the team building should provide skill buffs based on the makeup of the team, not just based on experience earned while playing.
I can recommend this game to comic book fans, super hero fans, and anyone who really loved the 2 XML games, but beyond that it’s a nice but relatively average hack and slash game that is thankfully set in an interesting universe with a decently written plot.

Ultimate Alliance for Xbox game is a rehash of X-Men: Legends 2 with better character selection and slightly more unique powers. The heroes start too weak, but eventually become nearly invincible, with little physical challenge once you start buffing the characters. Characters don’t come close to offensive capabilities from comics and movies. Level bosses are defeated by essentially puzzle combat, and while the cutscenes are very nice even on an Xbox, the game play becomes repetitive and completing the game is more about relief than joy. Recommended for all comic book fans, and anyone who enjoyed XML or XML2.

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