Image: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Raven Software
Elektra, Dr. Strange, Reed Richards and Ghost Rider are some of the superheroes lending their considerable talents to Raven Software’s ‘Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.’
By contributor
updated 11/6/2006 8:38:27 PM ET 2006-11-07T01:38:27

Spider-Man, Captain America, Silver Surfer, The Thing, Invisible Woman, Storm, Human Torch — we dare say the multitude of superheroes pulling on their tights and brushing off their powers for the newest comics-inspired video game is downright…heroic.

And that's the coolest thing about "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance," a new action RPG from Raven Software (the developer responsible for "X-Men Legends"). As any fanboy (or girl) will tell you, the sheer volume of playable heroes offered in this action packed title is a divine thing sent from comic book heaven.

More than 140 of Marvel's famed characters make an appearance during "Ultimate Alliance," which finds Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil — a super villain super force with a deadly chip on its collective shoulder — doing their malevolent best to muck things up for the known universe.

Of those 140 characters, more than 20 of them are playable, allowing gamers to create their very own superhero dream team. Though you start the game with a team of four made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and Thor, you soon have the option to pick from the likes of Deadpool, Elektra, Colossus, Iron Man and many more. The further you play, the more characters you unlock.

And unlocking each character is a bit like opening a present at Christmas. It's a thrill to see what neat tricks each new champion has up his or her shiny armbands. All of the characters have their own melee and grapple moves as well as their own signature super abilities and special powers.

There's Iceman with his freeze beam and flying ice shards, Storm and her lightning strike and whirlwind and Colossus with his pulverizing punch and earth quake. Use your teammates and their various skills wisely and the forces of evil will fall.

Meanwhile, as your characters level up, you'll be able to upgrade your powers and unlock new ones. And serious comics fans will love having the ability to unlock different outfits for their heroes to wear (each clothing option comes with its own bonuses).

Although you can play this game alone — hopping between the characters on your team with the quick press of the directional pad — "Ultimate Alliance" gets truly fun when played with up to three friends, each one taking on the role of their fave do-gooder.

Playing with your pals (available both offline and online) will help distract you from the fact that, while this is a sweet looking game (the character animation and boss battles deserving special kudos), the play here suffers from some serious button-mashing repetitiveness. Not only will you have to rumble-tumble your way past an endless number of ho-hum lower-level enemies and figure your way through some not-so-puzzling puzzles, the level design also suffers from some disappointing sameness.

That said, both superhero fanatics and those who simply like a solid RPG with no shortage of fisticuffs should find "Ultimate Alliance" to be a highly satisfying journey through the Marvel universe.

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