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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 – Part I: Whose Side Are You On? September 19, 2009

Posted by emeraldsuzaku in Blog-along, Video Games.
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It was with much glee and anticipation that I went to my local Best Buy to hunt down a copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Unfortunately, this means that I did not pre-order it from Gamestop, so I don’t get Juggernaut. Which is crappy and really kind of pisses me off. Characters should not be exclusive pre-order content from one overpowered retail chain. Ah, well. I still hold out hope that Juggy will be DLC for everyone in a month or so.

So I plug the disc in, and (after the automatic install) I start a new game on the normal difficulty level. I notice a few things right off. First, the FMVs are pretty. Also, the voice acting is very spotty. Some characters are decent, others are kinda crappy. The realtime graphics aren’t much of an improvement over the first game at all, but the framerate is a hell of a lot better.

Like the first game, you’re given an initial team for the first mission. This time it’s Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man. I immediately go into the menu to take a look at the power selection, and do a double take at how things have been tweaked since the first MUA. Everyone only has four attack powers, pre-mapped to each of the face buttons. These are bought with power points earned at level-up. The rest of the abilities are all passive-types like increased energy regeneration or more attack power, and are bought with what would have been credits from the last game. What’s more, it looks like each character has certain powers that will become available if they go Pro-Registration, and others if they go Anti-Registration. That’s a nice wrinkle. It seems to be two and two for most characters, in addition to the two passives that are not tied to a particular faction. I also noticed later that Luke Cage’s passives are entirely Anti-Reg.

The first couple of levels are really, really dark. As in, so dark that I have to fire off powers just to see my surroundings. The characters are all well-lit, but the area around them is not. Just because the initial levels involve a power outage and a cave complex doesn’t mean that they have to be THAT dark. And yes, I cranked my gamma up, too.

The game let me change my team up partway through the first level. The party status screen is more clunky than in the past, but that’s in part due to the fact that it has more functionality. For starters, you can swap out characters in the middle of levels. This is a pretty sweet function in and of itself. Additionally, autospend is NOT on by default this time around, which is awesome. Points can also be reallocated at any time–even if they’ve already been spent, or are the first point put into a particular power. The credits used to buy points of passive powers are not pulled from a common pool–instead, each character always has access to the entirety of them. So if you have earned 5000 credits up to a particular point, every character has 5000 to spend. In keeping with the free respeccing, any point removed from a passive refunds the entirety of the cost to buy it. So there is absolutely no worry of building characters up the wrong way.

As far as powers go, the attack set are unlocked at certain levels, like before. So no character has all their powers available from level 1. It’s interesting to see how characters develop differently, even with some similarities in power sets. The limited power selection does cut down on the amount of clone character builds, though–it’s nice to see more unique characters this time around.

The uniqueness of the characters plays into the new Fusion attacks a bit, too. Instead of manually combining specials as before for some extra damage and experience, MUA2 has actual combination attacks. Each character can combine with each other character, and the Fusion attacks are all unique. Sort of. It seems like each character’s Fusion attacks of the same type are animated in a very similar way. My favorite thus far is Ms. Marvel teaming up with Iceman. Iceman creates a giant ice spike on himself, which Ms. Marvel then uses as a prism to reflect her energy beam around a huge area.

As for my progress thus far, I’ve gotten through the first two missions. The final boss of the second mission was an interesting multi-stage fight, and I can already see a couple of ways I can improve upon it. There are a couple of gimmicks in it, and it’s a multi-stage fight. It kind of reminds me of a raid boss in World of Warcraft, actually. I am finding that I do consistently better with characters with ranged attacks, like Iceman, Gambit, and Ms. Marvel. I actually really like what they’ve done to Carol in this game. She’s much more fun to play than in the previous game. Iceman is likewise well improved, and Gambit is just fun. Unfortunately, with my team of those three plus Luke Cage I lack a particular type of Fusion attack, (the controllable one), which is really useful on bosses, so I’ll be changing things up. I’m just not sure who I want to sub in yet. Maybe Captain America. I’d plug in Iron Fist, but I don’t have him unlocked yet.

The trivia game is much improved as well. Not only is it multiplayer now, with the possibility of xp bonuses if both players choose the correct answer, but you can continue to retry questions untl you get the full points for them, which rectifies something that was rather annoying in all the previous games in the metaseries.

The game also has online multiplayer, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I should probably get a microhphone/earpiece thing before I try to actually coordinate with another human being. There are some online stats and trophies to work on, so I’ll work on that at some point. Besides, MUA is like a thousand times more awesome when played with other people.

I think that’s about it for this post. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch of things, which I will hopefully remember and slide into future posts on the game. So far MUA2 is not much different than its predecessor in style, but everything has been tweaked to the point of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

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