Heroe's United

While Activision's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance does not bring anything revolutionary to the table-fans of the X-Men Legends game will notice it's essentially the same game with a new story-but it does bring a fast-paced really enjoyable game.

Featuring over 140 characters from the Marvel comic book universe and over 20 playable characters from a wide variety of the Marvel stable, from the X-Men to The Fantastic Four to Thor to Blade, this game has nearly everyone with whom you would want to play.

At the beginning of the game Nick Fury of SHIELD fame tells you that the world is under attack from Dr. Doom, you and your assembled team are the only hope to stop him from taking over the world. Along the way you battle your way through Atlantis, Mephisto's realm, Murderworld, Asgard and several other well rendered and large levels.

Going through the levels the team will get upgraded the more they fight the myriad of enemies that come after them. As your team progresses more powers and special abilities become available and upgrade your fighting abilities. Choosing a fearsome foursome of your own can be the hardest aspect of the game with so many characters to choose from. Fortunately, there are extraction points throughout the levels that enable you to switch characters in and out.

Along the way, there are secondary missions that are ancillary to the main action, but depending on what you accomplish and finish will greatly affect the ending of the game in a delightful manner, putting you in control of the game's ending. As well, several characters become unlocked through the levels of the game, most notably, Ghostrider who produces some brutal attacks. Particularly his grab and throw move where he grabs a nearby enemy starts punching them in the face and then grasps them in chains and throws the enemy up and down against the ceiling until they are defeated.

The majority of the game is a glorified button mashing adventure but a very fun one. Fighting combos are possible but not especially necessary, special power combos are more fun, although slightly more difficult but do cause significantly more damage. Further, learning from the X-Men Legends games, larger extreme moves become available later in the game, and now, when one of your characters activates their extreme move, all of the other characters will do theirs as well releasing an incredibly powerful demolishing barrage upon any nearby enemies.

Like the X-Men games, the environments are well rendered in a very true-to-comic manner and present a vast array of enemies to punish and breakable objects that will satisfy all your destructive desires. Comic book fans will love the inclusion of the many non-playable characters that influence the story, as well as the personalized reactions depending on whom is on your team at the time. Non-comic book fans will not feel left out though, as no matter your comic book proclivities the game delivers a hard-hitting fun action-packed game.

Another great aspect of the game is the online playing, team up with players across the globe and get ready to bash some heads in together, or compare your stats and how well you have done to the leaders across the world and get some bragging rights.

Graphically the game is very well rendered, the levels are large well laid out and the characters, and their several available costumes all look smooth and appealing.

The cutscenes in particular are stunning, the scenes are fully animated and especially on the high-quality systems (X-Box 360, PS3, PSP) feel very cinematic and brings you even more into the story and game. The voice actors are all very solid (none of the A-list actors like in the X-Men games) and sound how you would want them to.

When it comes down to it, Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a highly enjoyable, nearly endlessly playable delight that you can pick up, play for a while, put down and come back to anytime. It's a game you'll want to play over and over again, especially as more characters become available after the first time you beat the game. Not to mention the fact that each system has exclusive playable characters for you to play with. Start playing today, but be ready for a non-stop adventure.

Gameplay: 8.6
Graphics: 8.2
Sound/Music: 8
Overall: 8.4
Learning Curve: approximately 5-10 minutes at most

Marvel Ultimate Alliance is available for all systems and platforms, including the PC, and next-gen platforms as well.

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