A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the video game spinoff of the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie. It's a surprisingly violent game, given the Teen rating applied by the ESRB, and certainly not meant for kids -- though many will be keen to get their hands on it. As the Hulk, players can destroy anything they see, including freeways and massive skyscrapers. Players can also pick up people, beat them silly with the Hulk's massive fists, and hurl them at other objects. It's worth noting that, somehow, civilians never die; no matter the kind or extent of abuse they suffer, they always seem to get up and scramble away. Also, while the Hulk does bad things, the narrative makes a point of explaining that he isn't actually evil, but rather just the dark side of a regular man.
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What's it about?
The requisite video game spinoff of the new film featuring Marvel Comics' cranky, green, muscle-bound goliath, THE INCREDIBLE HULK is a sandbox-style game set primarily in Manhattan. Players can freely run around the Big Apple and leap about her skyscrapers as they search for icons that initiate story missions and mini-game activities.
All of the action revolves around the Hulk smashing stuff. He can bring down 100-storey buildings, throw buses, bash his way through trees, and pick up and hurl just about anything in the game -- including people. As you demolish the city you'll run across a variety of collectibles and perform various feats, such as traveling a certain distance in the air, or destroying a set number of vehicles. New abilities are unlocked as the game progresses.
Is it any good?
i>The Incredible Hulk's creators took great care in their rendering of Dr. Bruce Banner's iconic alter ego. The Hulk looks just like his big-screen counterpart, with enormously powerful muscles rippling under his lime skin and a satisfyingly emotive face. He's also been beautifully animated. The Hulk has an immense, lumbering gait, and his movements for throwing and punching objects radiate power. Indeed, even his most outlandish exploits -- such as leveling the Chrysler building simply by pounding its stanchions -- seem almost believable thanks to the game's talented artists.
However, the ol' Hulk Smash gets a bit tired after a while. The act of razing a skyscraper carries with it a visceral pleasure, but it's so easy and common in this game that it eventually loses its sensational appeal. What's more, most of the story missions are quite similar to one another -- run to a particular location and destroy this group of bad guys or that structure. Mini-games aren't much better, entailing the repetitive destruction of, say, as many cars or enemy troops as possible in a set time. Plenty of unlockable Hulk skins, classic comic book covers, and concept art help add value for die-hard Hulk fans, but players not invested in the green guy's mythos probably won't derive all that much fun from reviewing his various appearances over the decades. Simply put, The Incredible Hulk is a ton of fun to start, but there's just not enough substance to sustain the average player's interest until the closing credits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dual nature of humans, as presented in the game's story. Do you think that all people have a dark, raging side that they keep bottled up? Do you believe that there are times when it can take control of your actions? Families can also discuss the violence in the game. There is virtually no blood, but does that make it any less violent? What do you think of the game makers' decision to allow players to pick up, punch, and throw innocent pedestrians? Does the fact that they (unrealistically) survive make the brutality easier to digest?
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