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MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE Rating: T for Teen Release Date: 2006 Systems: All major Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a game in which, according to the back of the game case, the world\'s largest army of Super Heroes is under your control. About 20 heroes are available for play, and you can interact with over 120 Marvel legends such as Galactus, Fin Fang Foom, Odin, the Vision and Wong. This is not the first time Activision has teamed up with Marvel to make a video game. X-Men Legends, Spider-Man and their sequels (to name just a few) are of the same category.

Gameplay

Since we saw him back in Marvel\'s 2005 comic-inspired super hero blockbuster Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom has been MIA in the movie and video game industry (except for the movie\'s video game counterpart). Now he’s back, and he has a plan. It’s a little confusing in some areas, but basically he wants to bump off S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage and Logistics Directorate) and all its affiliated heroes. Your job? To carry out Colonel Nick Fury’s (head of S.H.I.E.L.D.) orders--and, if you so desire, plenty of optional side quests that will (sometimes) reward you. The game is divided into only five acts, but it is satisfactorily long and quite challenging. Plenty of quests are fun and difficult (in a good way), but some obstacles are cleared through pure chance and trial and error more than anything else. What really makes this game shine, however, is the outstanding multiplayer mode. One-player mode is hysterical fun, but it is quickly overshadowed by the 2, 3, or 4 (and even Xbox Live) player cooperative play. This game is not focused on a complex fighting system. Hammering the A button lets you pummel your opponent into submission, the B button delivers a harder (but slower) chargeable, & the X button can grab an enemy (in which case you can smash, throw, or do a special move on them). The Y button lets you jump, double-jump, or even fly with some characters. This gameplay style came on as a bit under par, but it is redeemed by one thing--the special powers. Deadpool makes mayhem with his twin katana, Nick Fury shoots \'em up with his sub machinegun and sniper rifle, Spider-Man webs up the bad guys with his web shooter, and the Human Torch lets loose a fiery blast of furious flames. Sometimes the AI is not particularly smart. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but when you accidentally hit the wall and the rest of your team unleashes the full might of their powers at full blast (at the wall), you’ve got a problem. Other than that minor inconvenience, it was all right.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are hard to review. Sometimes the in-game graphics were not impressive, but the cinematics sent shivers down my spine from the realism. The graphics are not like those of the X-Men Legends series; this time the developers went for a little more life-like style. Sometimes it looked like a next-gen system, sometimes it looked like a Nintendo 64. But this game is a 2006 game, not a 1996 game, so I wish the developers had been a little more consistent. Ultimate Alliance isn’t ugly, just a tad disappointing after seeing the cinema scenes.

Sound

There’s not much to mention here except the voiceovers, but I don’t have any big complaints either. Some of the music was headache inducing heavy metal style, other types were epic, soft, and/or relaxing. The sound of the B attacks got really repetitive, but I didn’t use them much anyway. The voiceovers, however, were excellent. Professor Xavier’s voiceover was great--it sounded almost like Patrick Stewart from the X-Men movies. Deadpool’s jokes were made even funnier due to his great voiceover. Daredevil and the Silver Surfer could’ve been better, but they were okay. My only complaints were to the voices of Iceman and Spider-Man, who sounded like nerdy kids instead of tough teen heroes.

Controls

Again, there’s not really anything unique in this department. The left thumb-stick moves your character around and the right thumb-stick controls the camera view. To switch between characters in your customized team of four, you have to move the directional pad in the direction of that hero\'s face on the team diagram, which is located in the bottom left of the screen. A few glitches occurred in the controls. For example, sometimes the camera view would malfunction and I would find myself staring at a wall while being ruthlessly attacked by my fierce, merciless enemies. To combat this, I would just switch around the characters until the view was right.

Appropriateness

Violence/Gore: Bloodless, mild, not graphic This game is rated Teen for mild language and violence. It is violent enough but completely sans blood & gore. I don’t believe that any humans were killed, except in one level a couple of times. Other enemies (robots, wolves, live statues), when defeated, simply fall to the ground without suffering any mutilation or gore.

Language/Profanity:

A few mild swearwords, about like in a PG or PG-13 movie In the opening cinematic, Nick Fury shouts “What the h**l” in frustration (hit mute until you see him walking around inside his ship) and says “...did a h**luva job” towards the end (although it was barely audible). The Thing of the Fantastic Four sometimes exclaims “D**n! at random times during gameplay, but to combat this I simply didn\'t pick him to be on my team. Also, if you listen to the comical ending lines in the credits, you hear Deadpool say “I think it really s**ks” when he\'s reading his haiku.

Sensuality/Nudity:

Those familiar with comic books won’t be surprised Elektra\'s costumes (particularly the silver one) are fairly revealing in the leg and midriff areas. Ms. Marvel\'s legs are also shown. Most of the girls in the comic covers are also immodest (mainly Storm’s low-cut strapless uniform), as well are some of the load screens. Most of the heroes, both male & female, wear tight spandex costumes, but if you are familiar with Marvel’s standard comic-book style this will not offend you. Also, guys and gals fight each other equally. I just thought I\'d mention that. Spider-Man and Wolverine make a crude joke in the Shi’ar briefing that will probably fly over the heads of young players.

Occult/Spirituality:

References to and viewings of gods, a hellish level, some use of magic Asgard, a world in which you go to in the game, is the abode of many gods, which are spoken about casually through half the game. More questionable, however, is Mephisto\'s Realm. If the name doesn’t tell you enough, the fiery demon-like creatures, barely-audible background screams, and battling baddies like Mephisto and Blackheart certainly will. Some evil creatures in this level are dubbed “Demon Leapers” and “Demonic Souls”. The latter will attempt to \'possess\' you if you wait too long & don’t hammer the indicated button fast enough. This level was, however, relatively easy and short enough. Another thing worth mentioning in this category are some playable characters. Ghost Rider has some questionable powers such as Penance Stare and Damnation. Dr. Strange also uses some magical powers and items.

Conclusion

I think that this game is intended for mature kids and & preteens because of Mephisto\'s Realm (which could be scary for young gamers) and the language. The violence is not graphic but it’s still present. Activision has a reputation for making some of the best games around, and this game is no exception.


Final RatingsGame Play 18/20 Graphics 7/10 Sound 8/10 Controls 5/5 Stability 3/5 Appropriateness 39.5/50

Overall 79%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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