I’ve previously posted an entry on X-Men Legends, which is an excellent action RPG based on the Marvel property. That game was developed by one of my favorite developers Raven Software. So when I saw another entry in their 4 title series of action RPGs on the PS2, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Marvel Ultimate Alliance (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is the first entry by title, but spiritually the third game after X-Men Legends 2.
Just like the other entries, you are given control of 4 super heroes with the ability to switch between them at will. As you fight, the characters gain experience, level up, and unlock new abilities and costumes. The game has a fairly large cast of playable characters, each with their own voice acting. I also noticed that there were several in game cutscenes where the characters in your party mattered – if you didn’t have Daredevil for instance, Bullseye would lament that he wasn’t there to see your destruction. These are nice touches, and while the voice acting is spotty in terms of quality, the sheer volume of it and the ambition to include it all is commendable.
Visuals have aged very well, and I think the game looks great – especially considering it’s running on the PS2. I will say that I noticed the occasional severe frame rate drop. I’m talking spikes down to sub 10 FPS. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment, but if you are particularly sensitive to frame rate you may want to keep this in mind.
I’ve already mentioned the voice acting, but otherwise the sound is good – music is fitting and sound effects are appropriate. I will say that some of the background music sounded a little muddy and compressed. It wasn’t distracting – but I imagine this has to do with fitting everything on the DVD.
Overall, the game plays great and is definitely fun. The enemies, at least in the beginning, show that there will be some variety and the 4 player local coop is the icing on the cake. If you enjoy action RPGs on the PS2 like Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath like I do, I think you will like Marvel Ultimate Alliance quite a bit.
Verdict: Play again – all of the games in this series are seriously fun, I can’t believe I missed out on them when they were first released.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb