Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Picked up "Marvel Ultimate Alliance", an RPG-lite. Actually, it's more like a team beat-'em-up. There are 4 Marvel superheroes in a team. Including unlockable characters, there're up to 20 Marvel favourites to mix and match. The default team is already pretty strong: Cap Am, Spidey, Thor and Wolvie.

Each character has his or her special moves, and there are several ways to customize their attributes, powers and costumes. Levelling up is automatic, but there is also the option to spend points accumulated through missions as well as unique item upgrades to collect. The opportunity to create so many different permutations of heroes and experiment with which powers complement others the best is a fanboy's dream.

Not a lot of brainwork needed. Just mash buttons until all enemy characters have had the stuffing kicked out of them. Problem is, there're so many buttons to try out that a qwerty keyboard is not ideally suited to put all controls within easy reach of wildly flailing fingers. Customizing keyboard controls to your preference is definitely a priority before the action gets hot and heavy.

Storyline's basic. A mass consortium of evil-doers band together for some nefarious scheme necessitating an equivalent alliance of do-gooders to stop them. There is an element of distrust thrown into the hero camp as SHIELD, the sponsor of the alliance, seems to have a hidden agenda in the midst of all this chaos.

Lots of background info on the heroes, villains and locations to gather as well through interacting with numerous NPCs, and, boy, do they have a lot to yak about. The game's almost like a playable encyclopaedia of Marvel trivia, so even players who have no knowledge of the Marvel Universe won't feel left out in the cold -- if they have the patience to sit through every conversation.

Gameplay-wise, I would have prefered it to be more turn-based, like KOTOR, so there's a bit more strategizing involved in battles. But it's a lot more visceral this way, mindlessly bashing at enemies until they pop in a shower of points and power-ups.

It's going to be a long campaign...

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