Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (previously known as Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion), a sequel to the 2006 action role-playing video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, was released September 15, 2009. The game was jointly developed by Vicarious Visions (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), n-Space (Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, and Wii) and Savage Entertainment (PlayStation Portable), and is published by Activision.The game features characters from the Marvel Comics universe and follows elements of the Secret War and Civil War story arcs.
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of MUA2 were generally well received, averaging above 70% at aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic. The Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable fared much poorer, averaging between 45% and 65% for their respective platforms.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 borrows much of its gameplay from its predecessor. The game allows players to select a team of four given characters from a larger pool of heroes and villains; team members are interchangeable and may be swapped during gameplay. General gameplay mechanics are similar to those of the X-Men Legends series. The game is played from an isometric dungeon crawl perspective, supporting up to simultaneous four players. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game also feature online play via the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, respectively.
The power system also has been improved, allowing two characters to combine powers, yielding a new attack, known as a "fusion". Each playable character in the game has a unique fusion with every other playable character in the game. An example is Captain America using his shield to reflect Storm's lightning bolts. Players have the ability to level up characters and earn new abilities and powers. The PS3 and 360 versions feature an updated character progression system, with each character having four core powers that evolve as the character levels up. The Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable versions of the game resemble the character progression system found in the original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
A trailer released at E3 shows a military operation originating in Latveria, home of master villain Doctor Doom. "The story starts with Secret War. We're using Nick Fury's invasion of Latveria as a jumping off point. The rest of the story is derived from the consequences of those actions," states Dan Tanguay, creative director for Vicarious Visions.
The game then follows the Civil War story arc: a fight between heroes and villains causes an explosion in Stamford, Connecticut. Killing 612 civilians (including a number of school children), the government labels the incident "super powered negligence", and the public demand a Superhuman Registration Act. The government passes the act, and all meta-humans are forced to adhere to or disobey the law. In the game, players are able to choose between the Pro-Registration side, headed by Iron Man and Mister Fantastic, or the Anti-Registration side, headed by Captain America and Luke Cage. Several other characters are 'locked' into a specific side.
Songbird is locked to the Pro-Registration side for the PS3 and 360 versions, with Ms Marvel and Thor locked to the Pro-Registration side for the PS2, PSP and Wii versions. Iron Fist is locked to the Anti-Registration side for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, with Daredevil and Storm locked to the Anti-Registration side for the PS2, PSP and Wii versions. These ten characters are locked into their specific side, but the others are playable on either side of the conflict. Multiple endings are available, and are determined by the side chosen at the beginning of the game. Tanguay stated that the story follows into the aftermath of the Civil War.
The game begins one year prior to the main Civil War story arc. Colonel Nick Fury is leading Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Wolverine on an unsanctioned attack on Castle Doom in Latveria after discovering that the elected prime minister Lucia von Bardas was supplying weapons to the Tinkerer who in turn supplies them to super villains. The President is adamant against the attack as Von Bardas has been establishing friendly ties with them. The attack is successful and Castle Doom is reduced to rubble, with Von Bardas assumed dead.
The scene then shifts to present day. Ms. Marvel is reported missing after being sent to recover intel on suspicious criminal activity. A team is sent to investigate and find her being interrogated by Shocker. They also discover that the Latverian military plans to destroy a large portion of America, led by a cyborg Von Bardas. The group thwarts her plan but many city blocks are destroyed in the process, prompting the government to ponder the Superhuman Registration Act (SRA). In light of this incident, Nick Fury disappears, leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in charge. Three days later during a telecast of The New Warriors, Nitro creates a large explosion, killing more than 600 civilians in the process. This causes the SRA to be put into effect immediately and for Captain America, opposed to the act, to go underground. At this point, the story branches into two segments; Anti-Registration and Pro-Registration, depending on player choice. In order to aid them, the Pro-Registration group develops nanite technology to use as mind control on the super villains, increasing their ranks.
The two story arcs converge when Iron Man fakes a hostage situation at a chemical plant owned by Stark Industries. There, he attempts to negotiate with Captain America, promising amnesty. Captain America refuses and a battle ensues between the two factions. The nanite-controlled super villains go haywire and attack the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents they were programmed to help, stealing explosives to destroy the facility. Fury, disguised as one of the agents, enlists the help of the group to fend off Venom and Green Goblin while he disarms the bombs. He is thwarted by Venom as he tries to disarm the final. The ensuing explosion wounds many superheroes whom Fury rescues. The group learns that the Fury they saw was one of his androids. He manages to acquire Tinkerer's help in discovering the cause of the malfunction.
The group then heads to the Negative Zone prison to get a sample of the nanite formula. They collect the samples and Fury activates the self-destruct system to prevent the spread of nanites. The team escapes, but Fury's fate is unknown. The team learns the nanites survived and have now spread worldwide. As a result the registration act is suspended, uniting the two teams. They split into different groups, with the main group traveling to Wakanda, home of Black Panther. They help him defend the country from nanite agents, now under the moniker of The Fold, and in the process cure Venom and Green Goblin of the nanites. They also discover that Nick Fury has been taken by The Fold. The heroes establish a base in Wakanda, learning that The Fold cannot comprehend Fury's intel on it, making it safe from nanite attacks. In order to stop The Fold the heroes infiltrate a base in Iceland to broadcast a signal that will paralyze those in its control, allowing them to be cured. At the culmination of their mission the team face off against Tinkerer, who was behind The Fold all along, and then a nanite controlled Nick Fury. After defeating Fury the game has one of two endings depending on which side the player has chosen: in the Pro-Registration ending the SRA gets amended whereas the Anti-Registration it gets repealed.
The game includes some format-specific characters, and the developers plan to release additional characters as downloadable content. In addition, each character on the PS3 and Xbox 360 has one alternate costume that can be unlocked during the course of the game. Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics and creator of many of the characters, also lends his likeness and voice to New York senator Lieber; this marks the first time Stan has made a physical cameo in a video game. On April 1, 2009, Aunt May was announced to be a playable character on the official website, as part of an April Fool's joke.
Several playable characters also appear as boss battles throughout the game, such as battling Iron Man if the player chooses the Anti-Registration path, or facing Captain America on the Pro-Registration path. Other playables are unlocked by defeating them, such as Deadpool, Green Goblin and Venom. Juggernaut was available as a pre-order bonus incentive for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A patch was released to allow those who do not have Juggernaut installed to play with others who have the character. On October 9, 2009, downloadable content was announced for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which includes new characters and comic missions as well as new achievements. It was released on November 5, 2009 for $9.99/800MSP for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively. Additionally the once pre-order exclusive character Juggernaut was available for $1.99/160MSP. The content was removed on from both networks December 31, 2009, with Activision claiming the content was "a limited time offer". On July 1, 2010 Activision re-released the DLC on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network shortly thereafter, at Xbox Live were released on July 3, 2010 and at PlayStation Network were released on July 20, 2010. Players can purchase both the five character DLC pack and the Juggernuat pre-order character for the same cost previously mentioned. Activision, however, stipulated that the DLC would only be available until December 31, 2010.
|Anti-Registration Bosses||Pro-Registration Bosses||Other Characters|
^a Exclusive to PS2, PSP and Wii
^b Exclusive to Nintendo DS
^c Exclusive to PS3 and Xbox 360
^d Limited time pre-order bonus on PS3 and Xbox 360
^e Limited time downloadable content exclusive on PS3 and Xbox 360
^f Characters on Nintendo DS
The game was officially announced in a press release by Activision on February 8, 2008. Early reports speculated a 2008 release. MUA2 was released on September 15, 2009. At E3 2008, it was given the official name of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion, which would later be shortened to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. On February 5, 2009, a new trailer was released, revealing that the story would continue from the Secret War saga into Marvel Comic's Civil War. On February 8, 2009 the game was featured at New York Comic Con, where players were able to take green screen pictures and have themselves superimposed into the game's backdrops.
Vicarious Visions, developers for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, upgraded the Alchemy engine in several ways, including Havok physics technology, a new 3D sound system and syncing character's lips to dialogue. Developer Vicarious Visions also has a development blog which began on February 6, 2009 which is updated bi-monthly. Users can follow Vicarious Visions' creative director Dan Tanguay and executive producer Jennifer Oneal on Twitter as they answer questions and post news about MUA2.
The Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii versions were developed by n-Space, with Savage Entertainment porting the PS2 version to the PSP. Version 3.5 of the Alchemy engine was used, and a team of around thirty developers works approximately thirteen months to develop the game. Online multiplayer for the Wii is not supported due time constraints during development. Several changes were made to the next-gen versions of MUA2 late during n-Space's development, accounting for the fact that Stan Lee does not cameo in these versions, that there are no alternate costumes, nor on-the-fly character swapping. n-Space created a series of articles to address fan concerns, the "perceived shortcoming[s]" of the game, and to answer questions. The Wii version of the game uses WiiConnect24 to implement a feature known as B.R.A.G. (Broadcast Realtime Accomplishment Gloating), which allows players to share level results and high scores, and also features extensive use of the Wii remote for puzzles and manning turrets. Users can also follow n-Space president and founder Dan O'Leary via Twitter to receive updates on the game.
Reception and sales
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 has received generally positive reviews from most critics, and holds a 76% at GameRankings. Metacritic currently holds the game at 73%. Brian Michael Bendis, writer for Marvel Comics, was given an early opportunity to play the game, to which he later tweeted, "Happy to give a huge thumbs up for 'Ultimate Alliance 2.' The stills do it no justice. It's gorgeous."
Gamespot's Kevin VanOrd stated that the game delivers "the button-mashing, power-flinging, over-the-top action fans of the original would expect," additionally praising the branched story and unlockables, citing additional replay value. However, the reviewer cited "technical oddities" and said that the "RPG elements were stripped down." 1UP's Thierry Nguyen was more critical, saying that the game was "like Ben Reilly: almost, but not quite as good as the original," citing issues with alternate costumes that "seem pretty lame," a "a persistent feeling of oversimplification," and that a hope that "either Raven returns as the developer or Vicarious Visions learns from its missteps." He did however praise a "more coherent story," new fusion abilities, and gameplay tweaks. IGN's Greg Miller gave the game a 7.7 /10, praising its new fusions and "healthy cast" but criticizing the game's similar gameplay to its predecessor, inconsistent voice acting, and its weak CG cutscenes.
According to the NPD sales group the Xbox 360 version of Marvel Ultimate Allaince 2 was seventh in sales for September 2009, selling 236,000 units. However, the sales dropped in October 2009, with the game no longer listed in the top ten in sales.
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