Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this action game features dozens of heroes and villains from Marvel Comics. Players guide four heroes through hundreds of bloodless battles as they attempt to save Earth. The fighting is nonstop, but it's mostly presented as comic book fantasy; a couple of cut scenes show intense sword fights and decapitations of humanoid robots. Parents also need to know the game has an online mode -- Common Sense doesn't recommend online play for anyone under 12.
What's it about?
MARVEL: ULTIMATE ALLIANCE pits the forces of good -- in this case, a collection of Marvel greats -- against dark powers, here represented by Dr. Doom and a legion of baddies calling themselves Masters of Evil. Players guide a small team of heroes in a fight to save the world, traveling from hi-tech hideouts on Earth to remote locations like Atlantis, the banquet halls of Valhalla, and distant planets. The team comprises four characters from a pool of over 20. Three are under computer control, although players can take over control of any one team member at any time. The team must battle its way through hundreds of enemies, including many classic villains from Marvel's catalog.
Is it any good?
The most satisfying part of Ultimate Alliance is mixing different heroes in the quest for the perfect fighting force. Players can experiment with different heroes and power-ups until they find a set they like. The team-building is even more fun when two or more players participate in co-op play, which is available both online and offline. The single-player mission should last between 15 and 20 hours, and plenty of side-challenges add even more playtime.
Unfortunately, a few problems mar this otherwise solid game. The bulk of the game involves repetitive button-mashing battles against small groups of grunts, and the smashing of innumerable boxes, vases, and barrels in a hunt for money and power-ups. The game also has a few glitches, from a camera that occasionally gets caught on walls and ledges in the environment to more serious issues, like poor teammate AI that can send heroes off cliffs or into traps. Yet for those who enjoy action games or the Marvel Universe, Ultimate Alliance has a lot to offer.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the marketing of Marvel characters. Are you more likely to buy games or see movies that star your favorite comic book heroes? How often are these games good? How often are you disappointed? What is your favorite combination of heroes and why? Parents will also want to discuss online etiquette.