E3 2009 Feature

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 E3 09 Interview

Prior to checking out Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 at E3 09, we had a brief opportunity to speak with Jennifer Oneal, the game’s Executive Producer at Vicarious Visions. Though we lacked the time to ask dozens of questions, what Oneal divulged about the game in the short time period is both impressive and fascinating. Check it out.

PSU: First off, what have you added to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 that you didn’t include in the original?

Jennifer Oneal: First of all, the premise of the game in inspired by the Marvel civil war story arc, so, as you know if you’re familiar with that story, the government has decided that superheroes are a little too powerful and they need to be regulated, so they’ve passed something called a Superhuman Registration Act. Now, that’s not great if you’re a superhuman necessarily, because now you have to reveal your identity — not good if you want to try to keep your day job, and keep your family safe — or, you know, maybe go underground like Captain America did. So you as a player have a choice to make. You either follow Captain American — fight for civil liberties, fight for your personal freedom — or you go on the Iron Man side and give a few things up in order to secure the nation.


Now, aside from that, one of our big features that we have this year with this particular game is what’s called power fusion. Now I’m sure you’ve seen this in many comic books; comic book heroes team up and work together, and they’re able to fight evil better by working together. Well, it makes sense, so that was a natural progression for us to move in this game. So now, you can have Wolverine and Iron Man teaming up; Iron Man will shoot his repulsor beam into Wolverine’s adamantium claws — that will completely obliterate the room. His adamantium skeleton will be nice and heated up and releases all that energy. It’s a lot easier to sweep up the room that way instead of using your individual repulsor beams with your palms.

So that’s a really cool, exciting feature that we’ve added. On top of that, we’ve got a really good, accessible RPG. If you’re into the RPG elements of the game, you can look for Team Boosts — as the name implies, they’re boosts that apply to the entire team. They’ll give you extra hit points, maybe an electricity damage type, a fire damage type; there are hundreds of boosts in this game, so you’re going to want to try to look for them and find them all. You also can upgrade your powers, and there is an actual, visual change in your powers over time. For example, Torch will have a fire pillar power; he’ll light one guy up at a time. As you level him up, he’s able to light three up at a time — pretty cool when you have a room full of enemies that you want to get rid of.


PSU: So you have a lot of new characters in this game including Deadpool and many others. Who have you added, and which is your favorite?

Oneal: Oh, gosh… ok. I can’t reveal everything, but as far as the new folks that we’ve added, you’ve got Green Goblin, Songbird… there are others too, but I can’t say them (laughs). And who is my favorite? This is a bit of a toss-up. As a chick — I’m sorry, I love Songbird. She’s able to make these beautiful sonic wings; in one of her fusions, she makes this really cool sonic crystal that Iron Man can blast his repulsor beam in and totally spread out the beams across the room. Yeah, you know what, I think I’m going to have to stick with Songbird, she’s pretty cool (laughs).

PSU: Now, I believe the first game was a launch title, at least it was for the PS3. We’ve come a long way since then. What technical advancements have you added to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 that you weren’t able to fully realize or have in the first title?

Oneal: The engine has undergone a lot of improvements. We’ve added Havok physics. We have a whole team that is dedicated to making destruction — they’re like mad scientists, [thinking] "how can we blow up this world?" Having Havok physics definitely makes it much more enjoyable. When you’re blowing up cars, tires fly everywhere, which you’re able to pick up and chuck at your enemies. We also have a new dynamic lighting model.


Additionally, our characters look better than ever. The detail in the construction, the care that the artists took in recreating these superheroes… I think fans are really going to appreciate that. Plus, we were able to increase the amount of enemies that you can see on-screen, so you’ll have hordes of robots totally swarming you, which is awesome. It’s definitely a good time to use fusion when you have that happen. Having lots of enemies on-screen definitely makes you feel very ‘super-powerful’ as a superhero.

PSU: Alright, I believe we have to run, but thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

Thanks once again to Jennifer Oneal for speaking with us (and putting up with our time constraints!).