Hulk - PS2 review

4 out of 5
£35

For

Gratuitous old school smashathon

Against

Throwaway

Some people criticize the recent trend of reproducing old ideas, especially when it comes to superheroes. Hulk, on the PS2, twinned with the summer 2003 release of the movie, could fall into this category, but satisfyingly doesn't. You finally get the chance to have a decent crack at being Bruce Banner, the nerdy scientist with a temper that results in, yes, The Incredible Hulk. For a good measure, the name Hulk seems to have stuck and 'The Incredible' has been dropped, completing the transformation from comic and late-70s TV show with comedy special effects, to the current SFX heaven. Maybe it is my childhood memory of the TV show, or perhaps this game is really good!

You get the chance to play the Hulk both as Banner, and in Hulk form which is good for variety in gameplay. Obviously, Bruce Banner is a mere genius scientist, and no good in a fight, but there are times that you need to stay calm, and perform some sneaky tasks, such as break into various guarded facilities, or laboratories, pursuing some scientific aim. At other times, care and respect go out the window, as you become the Hulk and destroy everything you can get your hands on. The Bruce Banner parts of the game are more akin to the tactical play in Metal Gear Solid, and provide quite a comedown from the free-for-all melee you might have caused in the previous level.

Basically you play the game either in story mode and follow the plot, or you choose challenge mode, for some general destruction action. In story mode you get to experience lashings of Hulk geekery as you follow the story. In some respects, it is like getting stuck into a big batch of comics, but being able to do all the fighting, which is great. The cutscene graphics are good and fit in smoothly - remembering of course that this is from comic origins, so animation works - it doesn't try to replicate film quality reproduction, so it is simple, unpretentious and satisfying. The sound is also great, both the roars of the Hulk, and the comedy screams and sarcastic quips from the multitude of police officers you proceed to destroy. The game also comes with some extras - a 'making of' section and the movie trailers.

Control of the Banner and the Hulk is fairly straightforward. Banner is somewhat limited in his ability, but the Hulk (remember, the angrier he gets, the stronger he becomes) has a range of actions and reactions, which change slightly as you become more enraged. You can pick up most things from people to vehicles, you can jump, throw, punch and generally smash anything in your way. Of course, you have to watch your various energy levels as you face many opponents and the Hulk is not indestructible. Despite all the superhuman powers, your opponents do present a challenge, and the ability to replay and continue when you fail is good. In that respect, they didn't make the game too easy, which is good, but it doesn't take much to succeed, so longevity of the game might be in question here.

Verdict

Overall, what can be said about Hulk? Yes, it is a movie spin-off. Perhaps Hulk is more suited to being a computer game than on the big screen, with the comic book appearance that it has. At any rate, Hulk is a really fun game, and incredibly playable. The balance between Bruce Banner and Hulk presents a bit more game to get your teeth into as just Hulk-ing around would soon become a bit samey. There is a plot of sorts, not that it really matters. I think the great strength here is to appeal to people who have seen Hulk before - for many of us it was when we were young. If it has the same impact on the youth of today, I really don't know. Surely the ability to cause mass chaos with your bare hands is enough, at least in the short term.