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Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 DS Review Package Art
Action RPG

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 DS Review

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard scoring criteria.

If anything was remembered from the first Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, throw it out the window. Aside from how saving and character selection works, this sequel could very much be considered a brand new start of a series.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2's story seems to almost start off like a typical superhero game, where some evil bad guy in a foreign land needs to be taken down. However, this quickly changes once a problem breaks out where the retaliatory attack from Doomstadt's Lucia Von Bardas ends up striking New York City and the superheroes' use of their superpowers on the scene makes it worse. Of course, the United States government needs to deal its hand and decides to blame the super-powered humans. So, the government passes a law that all superheroes must register themselves as weapons of mass destruction and register as secret agents with the government, while also allowing their secret identities to become known.

At this point in the game and story, two factions are formed: one against the Superhuman Registration Act and one for it. Iron Man leads a group supporting the government's plan (and what does he have to hide; he already let his secret identity become known) whereas Captain America, once for the U.S., takes the lead role against the act.

This is where the player(s) can choose to join either Iron Man or Captain America and their respective teams. Each of these sides has its own missions and boss battles and allows for a different experience a second time through. To that end, Ultimate Alliance 2's story setup makes much more sense in explaining why these characters are fighting or helping one another as compared to the first game that seemed more like the characters were thrown together and the game dictated, "Okay, go play."

Wireless LAN is available (up to 4 players) for playing through the game as well. However, you will need a card for each player; this is to be expected from a game that has as many RPG elements and decently long gameplay as this game does.

DS Screenshots

The gameplay in Ultimate Alliance 2 is a lot like the first game, with some changes here and there to keep it fresh. It's the usual beat-'em-up but with RPG elements. Each character has his or her strengths and weaknesses as well as special abilities. Storm has lightning and wind-controlling abilities, Wolverine has regenerative properties (even though they are very, very slow), and so on. The new element added to the gameplay is the ability to combine powers into a Fusion Power. Combining Thor's special abilities with The Human Torch creates a fiery tornado that wipes out everyone on screen. The best part is, no two characters are the same and there are over 250 Fusion Power combos, although in reality, there are only about 10 or 12 that are completely different from one another-- combine Storm and Iceman, for instance, and you'll get an icy tornado.

Helping the gameplay is that a lot of the backgrounds and props are destructible. This really helps keep the DS version of the game in-line with the home console versions. Framerate slowdown can occur, however, when there are explosions and enemies filling the screen all at once, not to mention the four heroes. It's hard to call this a bad mark for the game when it's actually quite amazing that the developer was able to get the DS to do so much at once.

One bad mark that can be given to the gameplay, though, is the fact that saving and character selection is done the same exact way as the first game: you have to find portals, and they are few and far between. Home console gamers can save and change their team of characters whenever they please.

There's also one other significant flaw related to the game's AI. Enemy AI isn't the problem though; it's the AI-controlled heroes on your team. These guys and gals will get in your way when you're trying to fight, and block you when you're snooping into cracks and crevices to find hidden secrets. This pathing issue can get very annoying and frustrating.

DS Screenshots

Otherwise, the game's controls are rather simple and can be learned through simply jumping into the game, since help is given to the player(s) in-game from the start. The control pad is used for movement, A is a heavy attack and B is a light attack. X is used for jumping, while double tapping X will execute a double jump or fly, depending on the character. The Y button is used for grabbing, throwing and performing actions like pressing buttons. Blocking is done by holding the L button; press it and a direction on the directional pad to make a character defensively roll. Such rolling can, however, become quite frustrating when your AI controlled teammates get in the way. The select button is for viewing the map and start brings up the usual pause menu. The only touch controls come into play for special attacks, switching characters and activating Fusion Powers. Alternately, a non-touch control option is available by holding down the R button and pushing the A/B/X/Y button that dynamically corresponds to each of the four characters in the gamer's party.

As for graphics, the game gets a passing grade, barely, for character design. What with the aforementioned framerate issues when the screen's filled with effects and characters, n-Space could have taken it easy on textures and character models to allow more action to take place. Otherwise, the surroundings and settings are done well for a portable game and only get boring right before they change again. When it comes to cutscenes, the DS version simply throws in some comic-like drawings to keep the story moving.

Moving onto what's different about the DS version of Ultimate Alliance 2: each game has its own playable characters, mission differences and bosses. For DS, players can choose Sentry and She-Hulk, which is pretty cool because She-Hulk doesn't get much publicity.

Overall, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is better than the first outing. The story makes more sense (especially since it's based on one from the actual comics), there are more characters, and powers are really shown off with the Fusion Power abilities. That being said, there are certainly some things that hold back the game. Fusion Powers can make it very easy to play through (especially when you use them at the best times), AI teammates can make it harder to play through than it needs to be, and there is nothing drastically different about the gameplay. However, fans of the first game should, at least, like this one, comic book readers that hated the first game due to its lack of a "real" storyline should adore this story, and fans of beat-'em-up RPG games should enjoy destroying everything on screen while leveling up their favorite super heroes and abilities. Anyone else should rent it.

final score 7.3/10

Staff Avatar Greg Wampler
Staff Profile | Email
"Ok, little buddy, as part of your hero training, you've got to stand guard tonight over my bananas... I'll relieve you at midnight, so try and stay awake until then!"

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