Marvel Ultimate Alliance - Xbox 360 review

4 out of 5
£35

For

It’s all the Marvel heroes (yay) and baddies (boo) together in game form, plays a damn good game of action RPG goodness, adds some helpful features to the genre melting pot

Against

Lacks an extra level of graphical sheen, not for haters of the Marvel comics, slightly clichéd story

Woo hoo, the whole Marvel gang are here for another action RPG by Raven Software. You know, they who shocked us all with a fantastic title by the name of X Men Legends a few years back.

This time we’re not restricted to merely those mutant X men. There’s 25 superhero types (including the likes of Spider Man, The Thing, Elektra and Wolverine) all on the trail of the evil Doctor Doom and his bunch of unscrupulous henchmen.

So if you’re one of those types who rush to those "sci fi conventions" dressed up as your favourite superhero, this game has got your name all over it.

Like the aforementioned X Men Legends, Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a bit like that old classic Diablo or the Baldurs Gate console titles in gameplay terms. We’re talking action RPG. It’s still a tad beardy, but not quite as beardy as the true Dungeons and Dragons rule taking RPG titles the PC is famed for.

So instead of spending all those hours tweaking your character’s stats to give them a tiny little helping hand on hits points in exchange for a poorer throwing arm, here you leave the game to do all that for you. It performs a more than admirable job too.

The story is your standard superhero fare. After Doctor Doom’s collection of supervillians attack a helicarrier, the superheroes team up to stop this bad bunch and foil Doctor Doom’s ultimate plans.

It’s certainly enjoyable with a few memorable twists and turns to keep you intrigued, but it’s not exactly Tolstoy. Although, an action RPG based on the works of Tolstoy? Now that we’d love to see. Just imagine War and Peace 2: Judgement Day. Let’s just hope nobody spies what we’ve just written. It’s our idea dammit!

Although you’ll be playing all 25 Marvel heroes by the end of the game, you start with a meagre 18 including everyone’s favourite, Captain America.

To play, well, it’s a case of running around, punching, kicking and using what other special abilities your heroes have acquired on their travels. Each hero has a minimum of eight special powers which you can handily power up each time your character levels up.

The graphics engine is pretty impressive too. While not quite the standard of CoD3 or Condemned, MUA certainly has enough to boast about. There’s a massive array of environments to deliver beatings in and they’re lavishly detailed too, though the characters themselves do seem to be missing an extra level of detail once you zoom right up close.

Raven have introduced a couple of other nifty features too. First, characters that aren’t part of your immediate starting line up still level up, though at a slightly slower rate than your main four. You’re free to switch between them at any point during the game, meaning you can swap The Thing’s bulk, for the shapely curves of Spider Woman if that’s the kind of thing that gets you going.

Second, as your team of four fight side by side, they attain "relationship points". No, not because they carry on their teamly goings on once they get home for the evening, but purely because they’re working together day after day. And these points give the members of that team great little stat bonuses to boost your potential even higher.

Verdict

So, is it worth buying? Well, it captures the Marvel essence extremely well, so if you’re a comic book fan you’ll definitely want to give this a go.

If you love your action RPGs, this is a cracking example. So we say give this a try. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it gives the old style a gorgeous spin.