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Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 brings its outsized ensemble cast of super heroes back to the small screen. Proceedings are inspired by the acclaimed Marvel civil war storyline, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 sets the stage for this epic story to be played out by an impressive range of super hero characters. Players cherry-pick their dream team from over 24 playable heroes and villains, each with specialized powers. This crack team then battles their way through the war torn landscapes in true super hero style. Players, assemble!
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 pulls off the same trick as Batman: Arkam Asylum - it really makes you feel like a super hero. More than the impressive roster, destructible environments and levelling up, this is a game about being feeling bad-ass. Special moves, great costumes and not a little bit of monologuing combine to make this the full deal when it comes to saving humanity from disaster.
Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man et al are back to prove how much fun it is to brawl your way through ill equipped enemies. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 revisits the four person team brawling format that has worked so well since it first emerged with Gauntlet, and came to fruition in Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.
But unlike those games, here you can switch which team member you're controlling, as well as changing up the team itself to better suite the current challenge. It's a trick we first saw in the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting game where players could swap a second player in as reinforcements, and it works really well in these fantasy hero outings. As was true for the previous games, this flexibility makes Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 a lot of fun on your own - but even better when played with friends via the online multiplayer modes.
As players progress they obtain orbs and experience to level-up. This provides more of that bad-ass feeling as overblown abilities and equipment are amassed. In particular, players can combine active characters to achieve super destructive collaborative attacks. Although not new, seen previous in The Simpsons game, being able to work collaboratively like this adds a lot to the multiplayer side of the game.
The games edges into role play territory - like Castle Crashers on the Xbox 360 console - with the numerous options for powering up your team. But those simply wanting to enjoy the brawling can let the game do this for them automatically.
Alongside the main game is a trivia game and mission simulator. These offer some minigame style distraction if you don't have the will, time, or inclination to throw down on the main experience for an evening.
For me, the chance to play as Spidey firing off web balls left, right and centre or Iceman shooting his shiny ice spikes at enemies was enough to justify the entrance price along. Granted, you could do this in the previous games, but here the experience is fresh and updated. The combined fusion moves are also great fun. Spider-Man swinging Wolverine around by a web to create a special attack is a stand out moment for me. Not because it's clever or new, but because - like Batman: Arkam Asylum - I get to really feel like a superhero for the evening.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 may not revolutionise the genre or bring that many new ideas to the table, but it is quality here that stands out. Those who have wrung every last ounce from the previous outings are unlikely to fall in love with this, but for those wanting a bit more superhero role play this could be the game to fill that gap after finishing Batman.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: