MARVEL: Ultimate Alliance
Look at me, being all topical and professional and stuff. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 comes out this Friday, so I thought it would be a perfect time to dedicate an episode to one of my favourite games of the last couple generations; the original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
This game was a follow-up to the two (kick-ass) X-Men Legends games. Taking the initial formula and expanding on it to include characters from all walks of Marvel life, as opposed to just Professor X's team of misfits (and The Brotherhood, Legends 2 SPOILER!), Ultimate Alliance gave the player the opportunity to build a team of their favourite Marvel superheroes, and just run around beating up bad guys for fifteen hours. It was perfect!
Obviously, the main hook to the game is the roster. Being able to build a team of four heroes from the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Thing, blah blah blah, was awesome. Being able to switch your team out regularly added a ton of replay to the game, and kept it from getting stale. The combat stayed fresh and fun thanks in large part to the fact that each of the heroes felt and controlled unique. Wolverine was an absolute button mashing tank, whereas Iron Man was better served staying in the sky blasting away at enemies from a distance. Anytime you'd start getting bored, you could just pick a different group of heroes and freshen the (admittedly somewhat repetitive) combat up.
Another giant hook to these games is the multi-player. Being able to run through levels with up to 3 of your buds was awesome. I have great memories of playing this game (and it's sequel) with my nephew for hours at a time. Single player did the job just fine, but it was definitely better with friends.
These games also contain RPG elements. As you use heroes, you'd gain experience points that you could use to level up their specific abilities as you saw fit. I loved pumping all of Iron Man's XP into his various lasers and weapons, and he really did feel stronger as the game went on. I think the game could have survived without this aspect, but it wouldn't be nearly as beloved as it is today without giving players the ability to "tinker under the hood" of their favourite Marvel characters with such detail.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I love me some Ultimate Alliance. So does my buddy Tyler. We'll tell you all about it on this week's episode of the show. Enjoy!