We've come to expect a good superhero game every now and then, but two in as many months? That's about as plausible as Bruce Banner's trousers surviving his transformation into Hulk.
And yet somehow, right on the heels of Batman: Arkham Asylum, another winner of a comic book game has snuck up and smacked us silly.
If you're a Marvel Comics fan (or supervillain apologist), this setup alone should make you grin: it's heroes vs heroes! Most of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2's story revolves around Marvel's Secret War and Civil War mini-series, the latter of which split the crimefighters into two groups - supporters and opponents of government-mandated superhuman registration.
Most of the 24 playable heroes are ones you've controlled in the first MUA or the preceding X-Men Legends games, though many pack tweaked powers that make returnees like Thor and Gambit different in a way that's still fun. Newbies include Iron Fist, Penance and Green Goblin, but the presence of so many repeat characters is disappointing.
Still, once you factor in the story, putting Marvel's big guns front-and-centre makes perfect sense.
But really, MUA2's awesome gameplay demolishes that concern straightaway. You'll recognize its terrific core mechanics - four-person party, heroes have four powers, and so on - but developer Vicarious Visions has made lots of small, smart updates.
You can now swap in heroes at any time, and if one dies or is low on health, you can revive them instantly using a special token. Energy regenerates automatically, and the newly streamlined interface allows quicker team-tweaking.
This simpler interface works nicely in multiplayer, where you can upgrade your abilities in a small window and focus on kicking ass with up to three buddies.
MUA2's biggest co-op element, fusions, lets you combine powers with any team-
mate for a combo attack that'll damage bosses and devastate underlings.
They're a rush to pull off, although this wears thin once you've seen the same few animations umpteen times. Our other gripe is with the bigger battles: with more foes on screen, it can be tricky sorting the bosses from the riff-raff, and the zoomed-out camera makes epic struggles less exciting than in MUA.
But amid a gripping story, replayable campaign and unlockables galore, these issues barely register. If you like comics or just a sweet action-RPG, MUA2 offers many hours of smack-tacular fun.
Another great slice of comic book action
- Strong story
- Great co-op
- Heroes vs heroes
- Big battles get confusing
- Fusions a little disappointing