E3 2019: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Break stuff.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/22/2019 15:54 Comment on this     ShareThis

The last time I played a Marvel Ultimate Alliance game was way back in 2006 on my PSP. The series’ inaugural installment stands out in my brain because it felt so surreal to experience a title like that in the palm of my hand. I vividly remember showing it off to everyone I knew who was willing to sit and tolerate me. Due to these warm, fuzzy memories, a great sense of déjà vu washed over me as I tried out Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on Nintendo Switch. Developed by Team Ninja as opposed to previous franchise stewards Activision and Vicarious Visions, this is a new era for a series most people likely didn’t think was ever coming back. It’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance! It’s portable! It’s… 2019?!

Indeed it is, dear readers, except the difference between 2006 and 2019 is that this version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance looks and arguably also plays better than the originals. A lot has been made of Square Enix’s less than authentic take on the likenesses of Marvel’s roster of heroes in its Marvel’s Avengers game, but Team Ninja has done a solid job of bringing a more comic book-like version of these characters to life. The designs of everyone from Iron Man to Spider-Man fall somewhere between the comics and films, offering a new spin on these superheroes that’s both familiar and fresh. It might not be as dazzlingly realistic as even the older entries in Marvel Ultimate Alliance tried to be, but this style really works.

I played the demo with two Nintendo staffers, with our trio taking on a swarm of Hand ninjas. The undead assassins are a great fit for the epic, sprawling brawls that the series is known for. While Marvel Ultimate Alliance is beloved for having a huge stable of playable heroes, the roster of characters here is presently skewed more towards contemporary Marvel comic book and movie characters like Miles Morales and Captain Marvel. That’s not a bad thing, and the post-launch DLC will add even more faces to the roster, but so far it’s a world of difference compared to previous deep cut heroes like Songbird and Jamie Madrox. That’s probably the comic geek in me being a little too greedy, as this really seems to be a well-rounded lineup that will please most fans right out the box, but it’ll be fun to (hopefully) see some c-listers make a comeback.

Each of the heroes comes with not just attacks unique to them, but also styles of play. Spider-Man’s acrobatics make him ideal for melee combat, but he can also stave off foes from a distance using his web shooters. Wolverine, on the other hand, doesn’t have the luxury of taking his opponents on from afar, so he’s much more reliant on getting up close and personal in order to dish out damage. Jumping in and figuring out which character and their accompanying play style works best is a big part of the fun here. It’s going to be interesting to see which fighters are added to the roster, as the interplay between everyone is also part of the enjoyment in any Marvel Ultimate Alliance game.

A great example of how the dichotomy between players can impact gameplay is centered around Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s various special attacks. Each character has a unique suite of abilities to utilize during battle. Thor can hurl lightning at his enemies, for instance, while Cap’s shield remains one of the most versatile projectiles in the Marvel Universe. While the elaborate animations that accompany these attacks are a joy to watch, they’re also able to be combined with those of another hero. Up to four teammates can combine abilities, delivering devastating damage to opponents that can quickly turn the tide in the player’s favor. What’s more, unlike previous games, partial team bonuses are granted if as few as two fellow heroes have a natural connection between one another. For instance, if there are four members of the Avengers combined together at the same time, that would deliver a team bonus.

What really floored me was just how great a job Team Ninja has done of pulling the best of Ultimate Alliance’s combat and refreshing it for today’s players. Character movement is crisp, attacks are easy to pull off, and fights are immensely satisfying to partake in. It’s possible to mindlessly slap buttons to try and skate through each stage (which will be good enough for younger or less skilled players), but for those looking for depth, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has a combat system that allows for it. I did wish that there was more to break within the game world, but beyond that, this was a pleasant reminder of why Marvel Ultimate Alliance was so beloved in the first place. Here’s hoping the final version of the game will be able to reclaim the series’ former glory when it releases on July 19!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!