E3 2009 Preview

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Impressions

Activision displayed Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 to select press members earlier today as part of the company’s E3 showcase. Vicarious Visions’ president Guha Bala narrated the proceedings as someone in the back played through three distinct scenarios, each time with a different set of four characters.

The plot in Ultimate Alliance 2 follows the civil war story arc seen in Marvel comics a few years back. As the government tries to regulate super heroes, the heroes divide themselves into two groups: Pro-registration and Anti-registration. Only four characters — Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Captain America, and Luke Cage — are locked into specific sides; the rest are free to join either. The civil war plot piques our interest, even if some of the game’s writing is a bit cheesy, like when Deadpool talks directly to the screen.

The combat seems fairly similar to that of the first game, with one major exception — the new power fusion abilities. Power fusions are, as their name implies, fusions of two characters’ abilities into single attack. Some we saw demonstrated included Hulk hucking Wolverine at enemies, Juggernaut creating a rampaging sound barrier with the help of Songbird, and Captain America reflecting Storm’s lightening off his shield. Over 200 power fusion combinations will be available in the full game, leaving ample room for experimentation during play.

Visually, Ultimate Alliance 2 is acceptable, but a tad rough around the edges. The game’s new Havok physics are nice, but up close, the environments don’t hold up that well, plus the animation is also a bit stiff. The character models and effects hover somewhere near the ‘decent’ range. Considering Ultimate Alliance 2 is due for release this fall, and the E3 build was likely completed a fair time ago, there’s a good chance we could see some visual progression prior to launch, but it certainly won’t be the prettiest game on the market.

It should, however, be a great multiplayer experience. Though we only witnessed the single-player mode, the game supports up to four player cooperative play. When you envision playing alongside your friends, choosing one of over 20 Marvel characters, and experimenting with fusion combos, the package starts to sound pretty appealing. We’ll let you know how the full game holds up when it releases later this year for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.