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I'll preface this review by saying, playing the game on the Wii is a chore, so if you're going to be whooping superhero ass anytime soon, get it for the Xbox 360 or PS3. The controls weren't as bad as the first game although there was still too much “waggle” all the way throughout, but nothing else really changed from then till now. The camera work was still shaky at best, the levels were as far away from challenging as you can get, and the graphics are abysmal on Nintendo's console.
The game takes you through the comic book stories Secret War and Civil War, two of the most well known storylines that Marvel has ever produced. The U.S. Government wants to pass a law that would force every mutant in America to register, so that they can be more easily monitored. The an ultimately limit the freedoms that the superheroes/mutants and humans share. This law soon divides the mutants into two groups; those for registration and those against it. The anti-registration camp, who believes registration will ultimately limit the freedoms that the superheroes/mutants and humans share, is led by none other than Captain America. The pro-registration collective, meanwhile, is led by Iron Man/Tony Stark. Fairly early on in the game you will have to make a decision on which side you will fight for. Be careful with your choice though, as it will determine which boss battles you will encounter and which missions you will be sent on. Don't worry about not being able to play with Iron Man or Captain America, as the whole group will be united for the ending.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 starts you out in Latveria (home of the infamous Dr. Doom), which you're secretly invading on Nick Fury's orders. It's this mission that sets the tone for the entire story, and while the rest of the game can be equated to a bunch of button mashing, these first few missions are among the best in the game. We get the most entertaining mission right off the bat, which is good and bad in this case. Good because it leaves a lasting impression throughout the rest of the game and bad because nothing else in the game lives up to it. We also get a look at Nick Fury and who he really is...a dick.
That's our jumping off point for the whole registration law idea. It's through these first few missions in the game where we learn the controls (as if mashing A and B is hard?), are introduced to the main characters, and learn the plot line for the rest of the game. The rest of the missions are congested with tight hallways, uninterested puzzles/mini-games, poorly placed “boss battles”, and the same regurgitation of bad guys...over and over. It's a real shame too, as they could have piggy-backed off of the Latveria missions and made a real gem of a game here. It didn't exactly work out that way.
The storyline did not survive the adaptation from comic book to video game. There is no character development, no matter who you choose to play as. The story progresses as if it's on fast forward and the voice-acting is about on par with a bad Kung-Fu flick.
While there is plenty wrong with this sequel, there are also some very nice features you'll discover along the way. Like the expansive roster that grows as you continue throughout the game with over 75 playable characters. Once you beat the game you will be able to switch your four man group to any character that you encountered along your journey as pro or anti registration.
Another nice feature to the game is the character's “fusion” attacks, which allow two teammates to team up for a nice dual layered attack. For example, playing as Wolverine and teaming up with Ice Man turns Wolverine into an ice-clawed mad man. This attack only lasts for about 15 seconds but is easily one of the best parts about the game. Each character has their own “fusion” attack and each are unique in what they can do. As with any standard RPG, you will have the opportunity to equip your team with power-ups, suit upgrades, new attacks and more. MUA2 explores this feature in more depth than the first game but it still leaves you wanting more. There were not enough customization slots to make a difference with your character in what he could do from these power-ups. I had a total of 3 custom slots for each of my four characters, but as the game progressed it became more evident that the power-ups had little to no effect.
It is good times when you can get three other buddies to team up with you in co-op mode, which makes the game go by a lot faster and makes it infinitely easier (although it isn't challenging in the first place). Multiplayer is a nice selling point for this game but it's not enough to save it. It's not anything different from what we experienced in the first MUA title.
The bar for superhero games was set high by Batman: Arkham Asylum back in August and perhaps I was expecting too much from Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Considering the game's excellent source material, you would have thought the developers would actually take their time with this one and make sure they got it right.
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii (reviewed)