Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
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Game Reviewed: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platform: PS3 (also on PS2, PSP, Xbox 360 & Nintendo Wii)
Category: Action RPG
ESRB Rating: T
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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (M:UA2) uses two Marvel Comic story book arcs as a basis for the game. The first part of the game is based loosely on the “Secret Wars” storyline. The second part of the game comes from the “Civil War” story line. It begins with a military/superhuman operation on the fictional nation of Latveria. Nick Fury, leader of SHIELD or Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division (you gotta love those comic book acronyms), finds evidence that the new Latverian Prime Minister, Lucia von Bardass, is supplying weapons and upgrades to some very unsavory supervillians. Nick Fury, against the wishes of the US Government, sends in Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and Iron Man to gather intel. In the process, they are confronted by Bardass and the Latverian military. The heroes win the fight, but the story does not end there.
One year later, a new cyborg enhanced Bardass retaliates and invades America and targets New York for a full-on attack. While Fury and the other heroes are able to stop the destruction of New York, it is not without its consequences. Most of New York’s districts are destroyed and the US Government begins entertaining the idea of the Superhuman Registration Act or SRA. Since superpowered humans are basically walking weapons of mass destruction, the government wants to force all of them, heroes and villains alike, to register with the US Government. Registration means that all superpowered humans will have to reveal where they live, what powers they posses and what aliases/secret identities they use. Registration will also mean that they are in the employment of the US Government to use as they see fit. Iron Man views this as a good thing for the superhero community and eventually becomes a proponent of the SRA. Captain America, surprisingly, is against the SRA, viewing it as a violation of civil liberties and compares the SRA to the rounding up of and jailing of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
As the SRA is being debated by both sides of Congress and various superheroes testify both pro and con of the SRA, tragedy strikes and becomes the catalyst that forces the hand of the Government.
A superhero group known as The New Warriors has their own reality TV show and during one episode, they are trying to apprehend a particularly vicious baddie known as Nitro. He has the power to generate large explosions to levels that of a nuclear bomb and is able to survive the blast. Basically, he is a reusable suicide bomber. During the telecast, the New Warriors corner him in the small town of Stamford, CT. Nitro causes a huge explosion near an elementary school and kills more than 600 people, including 62 children.
In light of that event, the US Government fast-tracks the SRA and it becomes law, with very little opposition.
Iron Man leads the group of pro-SRA superhumans and is tasked with rounding up those that have not registered. If they do not register, they are jailed. Captain America leads the anti-SRA underground resistance. The superhero community is divided. Friends become foes. Brothers become enemies. Superhero teams are splintered.
As you play the game, you will be faced with a decision: Whose side will you choose?
What Parents Need to Know
There is some comic-book type violence in this game: punches, kicks, etc. Some of the heavier hitters can lift up cars and hurl them as weapons. Some superhumans are equipped with guns, swords, knives and staffs and will use them. There is no blood. Defeated enemies disappear. If your character loses their entire HP (Hit Points) they do not die, they just get knocked out. They can be revived with a healing token. Explosions are loud and plentiful.
There is some “minor” curse words used throughout the dialog: damn, hell and the like.
The female characters in the game wear bathing suit-type styles of outfits, revealing a lot of skin.
The first M:UA game dabbled a bit in the spiritual, with levels taking place in Norse mythology and even in Hell. M:UA2 stays away from that this time and stays firmly rooted in Planet Earth. You do take a detour to the Negative Zone, the place where superhumans who fail to register are jailed. The Negative Zone is not a spiritual plane, but a fictional dimension similar to Earth, an Anti-Earth, if you will.
I am a huge fan of comic books, particularly Marvel Comics and the “Civil War” story line. I loved that the series took a more “realistic” view of superhumans. It was not about stopping an alien invasion or some mad scientist’s bid to take over the world. It felt like if superhumans were real, this would be the political fall out.
The game plays almost exactly like the first Ultimate Alliance game. It has been a few years since the first game came out, but as soon as I popped in the disk, it was like riding a bike. On the positive side, it does touch on a few political issues like national security vs. civil liberties that can be used to help start discussions on the current political environment of the world today. On the negative side, the Stamford, CT incident is very reminiscent of 9/11 and may re-open those wounds.
Overall, I think the game is fun to play. It is fun to try and come up with the best team of superheroes to get past a certain level. Some groupings are better than others. There is definite replayability in that you can play through the game as part of the Anti-SRA group, then go back and play as the Pro-SRA group and see how the story changes slightly. There is an online multiplayer option that I did not care for too much. This game is great for adults. If you plan to purchase this game for a child, please consider if the mild profanity and the mild sexual content is appropriate for your child’s age.