Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
|Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2|
European box art
|Developer(s)||Vicarious Visions (PS3, X360)|
n-Space (PS2, NDS and Wii)
Savage Entertainment (PSP)
Zoë Mode (PC, PS4, X1)
|Engine||Vicarious Visions Alchemy|
|Release||Xbox 360 & Nintendo DS|
PlayStation 3 & Wii
PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is an action role-playing video game, the sequel to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. It was released September 15, 2009. The game was jointly developed by Vicarious Visions (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), n-Space (Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii) and Savage Entertainment (PlayStation Portable), and is published by Activision. The game features characters from the Marvel Comics universe and follows elements of the Secret War and Civil War story arcs. It was later released on July 26, 2016, for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows, and on July 28 on Xbox One by Zoë Mode.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 borrows much of its gameplay from its predecessor. The game allows players to select a team of four given characters from a larger pool of heroes and villains; team members are interchangeable and may be swapped during gameplay. General gameplay mechanics are similar to those of the X-Men Legends series. The game is played from an isometric dungeon crawl perspective, supporting up to four players simultaneously. The Vicarious Visions version on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC consoles of the game also features online play via the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Windows Live/Steam respectively.
The power system also has been improved, allowing two characters to combine powers, yielding a new attack, known as a "fusion". Each playable character in the game has a unique fusion with every other playable character in the game. An example is Captain America using his shield to reflect Storm's lightning bolts. Players have the ability to level up characters and earn new abilities and powers. The Vicarious Visions version on PS3, 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC consoles features an updated character progression system, with each character having four core powers that evolve as the character levels up. The n-Space version on Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable consoles of the game resembles the character progression system found in the original Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and original X-Men Legends, except the power set numbers are different, whereas the Nintendo DS version's power set number is limited to 4 powers limited like in the original X-Men Legends.
A trailer released at E3 shows a military operation originating in Latveria, home of master villain Doctor Doom. "The story starts with Secret War. We're using Nick Fury's invasion of Latveria as a jumping off point. The rest of the story is derived from the consequences of those actions", stated Dan Tanguay, creative director for Vicarious Visions.
The game then follows the Civil War story arc: a fight between heroes and villains causes an explosion in Stamford, Connecticut, killing 612 civilians (including a number of school children). The government labels the incident "super powered negligence", and the public demand a Superhuman Registration Act. The government passes the act, and all meta-humans are forced to adhere to or disobey the law. In the game, players are able to choose between the Pro-Registration side, headed by Iron Man and Mister Fantastic, or the Anti-Registration side, headed by Captain America and Luke Cage. Several other characters are 'locked' into a specific side.
Songbird is locked to the Pro-Registration side for the Vicarious Visions (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC) versions, with Ms. Marvel and Thor locked to the Pro-Registration side for the n-space (PS2, PSP and Wii) versions. Iron Fist is locked to the Anti-Registration side for the Vicarious Visions (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC) versions, with Daredevil and Storm locked to the Anti-Registration side for the n-space (PS2, PSP and Wii) versions. These ten characters are locked into their specific side, but the others are playable on either side of the conflict. Multiple endings are available, and are determined by the side chosen at the beginning of the game. Tanguay stated that the story follows into the aftermath of the Civil War.
The game begins one year prior to the main Civil War story arc. Colonel Nick Fury is leading a team comprising Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine in addition to several other superheroes on an unsanctioned attack on Castle Doom in Latveria after discovering that the elected prime minister Lucia von Bardas was supplying weapons to the Tinkerer, who in turn supplies them to super villains. In a flashback, the President is adamant against the attack as Von Bardas has been establishing friendly ties with them. The attack is successful. After the defeats of Electro, Scorcher, Wizard, and Tinkerer's Tank-Bot, Castle Doom is reduced to rubble, with Von Bardas assumed dead.
The scene then shifts to present day. Ms. Marvel is reported missing after being sent to recover intel on suspicious criminal activity. A team is sent to investigate and find her being interrogated by Shocker. They then uncover a plot by the Latverian military, led by a cyborg Von Bardas and several subordinate supervillains like Diamondback, Scorcher, Shocker, and Wizard, to destroy New York City. The group thwarts Von Bardas' plan, but many city blocks are destroyed in the process, prompting the government to consider the Superhuman Registration Act (or SRA for short). In light of this incident, Fury disappears and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill is sworn in as the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Three days later during a telecast of The New Warriors, Nitro creates a large explosion in Stamford, Connecticut killing over 600 civilians in the process, prompting the immediate implementation of the SRA. Opposing the act, Captain America goes underground, along with several other superheroes and S.H.I.E.L.D agents (who have formed a group called "The White Star"). At this point, the story branches into two segments; Anti-Registration led by Captain America, Luke Cage and Iron Fist; and Pro-Registration led by Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, and Songbird, depending on the player's choice. In order to aid them, the Pro-Registration group develops nanite technology and use it to mind control supervillains like Lady Deathstrike, Bullseye, Green Goblin, and Venom, increasing their ranks.
- On the Pro-Registration side, Bishop leads the heroes in raiding the Anti-Registration base in New Jersey, where they best Spider-Woman, Hercules, and Cable. Two weeks later, the Pro-Registration side guards the convoy en route to Ryker's Island from the attacks of Prodigy and Multiple Man, with help from Venom. Goliath buys Captain America time to get away from the Pro-Registration forces. The Pro-Registration heroes defeat Goliath, with help from Molten Man.
- On the Anti-Registration side, Captain America and the Anti-Registration heroes defend their New Jersey base from Black Widow, Bishop, and War Machine. Two weeks later, the Anti-Registration heroes crash a convoy en route to Ryker's Island, where they fight Songbird and Lady Deathstrike. Iron Man unleashes Yellowjacket on them as the Anti-Registration heroes defeat him, with help from Firestar.
The two story arcs converge when Iron Man fakes a hostage situation at a chemical plant owned by Stark Industries. There, he attempts to negotiate with Captain America, promising amnesty. Captain America refuses thanks to a trick and a battle ensues between the two factions. While the pro-registration heroes fight Firestar, Patriot, Colossus, Dagger, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Captain America, the anti-registration heroes fight Bullseye, Wonder Man, She-Hulk, Molten Man, War Machine, Mister Fantastic and Iron Man. The nanite-controlled Bullseye, Green Goblin, Lady Deathstrike, and Venom go haywire and attack the agents they were programmed to help, stealing explosives to destroy the facility. Disguised as one of the agents, Fury enlists the help of the group to fend off Venom and Green Goblin while he disarms the bombs. He is thwarted by Venom as he tries to disarm the final one. The ensuing explosion wounds many superheroes whom Fury rescues. The group learns that the Fury they saw was one of his androids. He manages to acquire Tinkerer's help in discovering the cause of the malfunction.
After gaining the assistance of Penance at Ryker's Island, the group is then sent to Prison 42 in the Negative Zone where the rebel superheroes and supervillains that have been captured are held, to get a sample of the nanite formula. They collect the samples and Fury activates the self-destruct system to prevent the spread of nanites. Most of the superheroes involved escape, but Fury's fate is unknown. A memorial is held for Fury and the other missing or presumed deceased superheroes.
The team learns the nanites survived and have now spread worldwide. As a result, the SRA is suspended, uniting the two teams. They split into different groups with the main group traveling to Wakanda, home of Black Panther. They help him and the Dora Milaje defend the country from nanite agents, now under the moniker of "The Fold," a mind-controlled Havok, Justice, and A-Bomb, and in the process cure Venom and Green Goblin of the nanites. They also discover that Fury has been taken by The Fold. The heroes establish a base in Wakanda, learning that The Fold cannot comprehend Fury's intel on it, making it temporarily safe from nanite attacks.
Yellowjacket, Iron Man, Goliath, and Mister Fantastic are researching a way to take out The Fold. In order to stop The Fold, the heroes infiltrate a base in Iceland to broadcast a nanite stasis signal that will paralyze those in its control, allowing them to be cured. At the culmination of their mission, the teams face off against Tinkerer, who was behind The Fold all along, and then a nanite-controlled Nick Fury enhanced with numerous superpowers like those of Electro, Havok, Firestar, Multiple Man, Bishop, and A-Bomb. After defeating Fury, everyone who was affected is freed from the nanites.
The game has one of two news-based endings depending on which side the player has chosen:
- In the Pro-Registration ending, Congress amends the Superhero Registration Act where the updated version allows heroes to voluntarily register for training without having their identities revealed. Iron Man becomes the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and speaks at the capital stating that superheroes are not to be treated like weapons.
- In the Anti-Registration ending, Congress repeals the Superhero Registration Act as the President pardons those who went against the Superhero Registration Act. Captain America speaks at the Lincoln Memorial about the heroes gaining another chance and hopes that they won't squander it.
Also in both endings, a banner running across the screen states that the President has pardoned Nick Fury.
The game includes some format-specific characters, with additional characters released as downloadable content. In addition, each character on the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions has one alternate costume that can be unlocked during the course of the game. Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics and creator of many of the characters, also lends his likeness and voice to New York senator Lieber; this marks the first time Stan has made a physical cameo in a video game. On April 1, 2009, Aunt May was announced to be a playable character on the official website as part of an April Fool's joke.
Several playable characters also appear as bosses throughout the game, such as battling Iron Man if the player chooses the Anti-Registration path, or facing Captain America on the Pro-Registration path. Other playables are unlocked by defeating them, such as Deadpool, Green Goblin and Venom.
Juggernaut was available as a pre-order bonus incentive for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. A patch was released to allow those who do not have Juggernaut installed to play with others who have the character. On October 9, 2009, downloadable content was announced for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, which included new characters and comic missions, as well as new achievements. It was released on November 5, 2009, for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Additionally the once pre-order exclusive character Juggernaut was available for $1.99/160MSP. The content was removed from both networks on December 31, 2009, with Activision claiming the content was "a limited time offer". On July 1, 2010, Activision re-released the DLC on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network shortly thereafter, at Xbox Live where it was released on July 3, 2010, and at PlayStation Network where it was released on July 20, 2010. Players could purchase both the five-character DLC pack and the Juggernaut pre-order character for the same cost previously mentioned. Activision, however, stipulated that the content would only be available until December 31, 2010. The expansion packs returned to the European PlayStation Network on January 2012, but were not added back to Xbox Live. In January 2014, the packs were removed once again from the PlayStation Network. As of September 2015, the Xbox 360 Games on Demand version includes all downloadable content. As the 2016 re-release is based on its primary version developer, Vicarious Visions, it included both of all exclusive and downloadable contents from the said version by default.
- Black Panthercd
- Captain Americaeg
- Green Goblinef
- Human Torche
- Invisible Womane
- Iron Maneh
- Iron Fistcg
- Jean Grey
- Luke Cageeg
- Mr. Fantasticeh
- Ms. Marveleh(ab)
- Nick Furyef
^a Exclusive to PS2, PSP and Wii
^b Exclusive to Nintendo DS
^c Exclusive to Vicarious Visions versions (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC)
^d Originally Downloadable content exclusive on PS3 and Xbox 360, later part of Xbox 360's Games on Demand Edition
^e Characters on Nintendo DS
^f Also appears as a common boss. If it's “f(?)” that means it's for specific consoles
^g Playable lock for Anti-Registration. If it's “g(?)” that means it's for specific consoles
^h Playable lock for Pro-Registration. If it's “h(?)” that means it's for specific consoles
The game was officially announced in a press release by Activision on February 8, 2008. MUA2 was released on September 15, 2009. At E3 2008, it was given the official name of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion, which would later be shortened to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. On February 5, 2009, a new trailer was released, revealing that the story would continue from the Secret War saga into Marvel Comic's Civil War. Three days later, the game was featured at New York Comic Con, where players were able to take green screen pictures and have themselves superimposed into the game's backdrops.
Vicarious Visions, developers for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, upgraded the Alchemy engine in several ways, including adding Havok physics technology, a new 3D sound system and syncing character's lips to dialogue. Vicarious Visions also had a development blog which began on February 6, 2009 and which is updated bi-monthly. Users could follow Vicarious Visions' creative director Dan Tanguay and executive producer Jennifer Oneal on Twitter as they answer questions and post news about MUA2.
The Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii versions were developed by n-Space, with Savage Entertainment porting the PS2 version to the PSP. Version 3.5 of the Alchemy engine was used, and a team of around thirty developers worked approximately thirteen months to develop the game. Online multiplayer for the Wii is not supported due to time constraints during development. Several changes were made to the next-gen versions of MUA2 late during n-Space's development, accounting for the fact that Stan Lee does not cameo in these versions, that there are no alternate costumes, nor on-the-fly character swapping. n-Space created a series of articles to address fan concerns, the "perceived shortcoming[s]" of the game, and to answer questions. The Wii version of the game used WiiConnect24 to implement a feature known as B.R.A.G. (Broadcast Realtime Accomplishment Gloating), which allows players to share level results and high scores, and also features extensive use of the Wii remote for puzzles and manning turrets. Users could also follow n-Space president and founder Dan O'Leary via Twitter to receive updates on the game.
As of 2020, the multiplayer servers for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, like other games published by Activision, have been shut down.
Reception and sales
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 have received mixed reviews from most critics, and Metacritic currently holds the game at 74/100 for the PlayStation 3 and 73/100 for the Xbox 360. Brian Michael Bendis, writer for Marvel Comics, was given an early opportunity to play the game, to which he later tweeted: "Happy to give a huge thumbs up for 'Ultimate Alliance 2.' The stills do it no justice. It's gorgeous". The Nintendo DS and Wii fared much poorer, holding 65/100 and 50/100 for their respective platforms.
GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd stated that the game delivers "the button-mashing, power-flinging, over-the-top action fans of the original would expect", additionally praising the branched story and unlockables, citing additional replay value. However, the reviewer cited "technical oddities" and said that the "RPG elements were stripped down". 1Up.com's Thierry Nguyen was more critical, saying that the game was "like Ben Reilly: almost, but not quite as good as the original", citing issues with alternate costumes that "seem pretty lame", "a persistent feeling of oversimplification" and that a hope that "either Raven returns as the developer or Vicarious Visions learns from its missteps". He did however praise a "more coherent story", new fusion abilities, and gameplay tweaks. IGN's Greg Miller gave the game a 7.7 /10, praising its new fusions and "healthy cast" but criticizing the game's similar gameplay to its predecessor, inconsistent voice acting, and its weak CG cutscenes.
According to the NPD sales group the Xbox 360 version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 was seventh in sales for September 2009, selling 236,000 units. However, the sales dropped in October 2009, with the game no longer listed in the top ten in sales.
On December 6, 2018, a third game was announced in the Ultimate Alliance franchise titled Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order. Unlike the previous games which were released on multiple consoles, this installment is published by Nintendo as a Nintendo Switch exclusive. The game features a team of heroes uniting to prevent Thanos and the Black Order from obtaining the Infinity Stones.
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