The Fusion attacks are one of the main draws of the game, and easily the best new gameplay addition. A Fusion meter fills up as you play, and when full, you can unleash a Fusion attack. You can team up with any other character, whether controlled by a human or AI. Of course, there are hundreds of different combinations of characters. Before the game was released, I was wondering how they'd handle all the different Fusions, and the answer is, there are only really about ten or so unique animations. This was evident even on the first few levels, as Iron Man + Cap is the same Fusion as Iron Man + Wolverine. (Iron Man flies, shoots repulsors at the other guy's shield/claws, and the beams split and clear out the room.) Swap in Ms. Marvel for Shellhead, and it looks the same. Most Fusions are visually impressive, but some are rather goofy, like when Cap and Daredevil jog around the screen knocking bad guys over. Some Fusions are best at clearing a crowd, and others are effective against bosses, but after a fairly short time, you'll have seen most of what Fusions have to offer. They are a nice addition, but they don't live up to the prerelease hype.
The boss battles in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 are rather mundane, especially when compared to the awesome fights in the first game. Only three really stand out, those being a battle against a Giant sized foe, the final boss, and, our favorite, a battle against a certain merc with a mouth. (The latter is memorable more for the hilarious situation than the gameplay.) I was disappointed to see some repeat bosses, too. With all the different characters in the Marvel Universe, why use the same two twice?
Graphically, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is stunning. Gone are the previous gen trappings of the first game. The loading screens and menus are all incredibly slick. The fonts and propaganda style character art in menus and cut scenes mirror those of the comic series. During gameplay, the game looks incredible. Characters models are detailed, and powers look great, especially the Fusions. In keeping with the more realistic tone of more modern comics, hues are a bit faded, particularly reds. Some of the costumes look odd, as well (I'm looking at you, Wolverine). Even with these minor nitpicks, graphically, the game is appealing.
The X-Men Legends and Ultimate Alliance series has always been strong as far as co-op is concerned. That trend continues in MUA2. Local co-op, in particular, is as good as ever. The Fusion attacks are an obvious addition to the feeling of teamwork, but there are many other powers which compliment others well. Cap has a group buff that aids the entire group, and many powers stun or incapacitate enemies, providing a bit of crowd control. If you pick a well balanced team, you'll definitely feel like you are working together like a well-oiled machine. Online co-op is supported, but is lacking a bit since only the host's storyline and character progress is saved. This was a problem for the first game, and was unfortunately kept in the second as well.
I should mention that we ran into a few bugs and glitches. The first was during the achievement trackers which pop up and let you know how you are faring in your quest to earn achievements. These seem to appear even after achievements are reached. One that kept popping up each time we played was the health orb collection notice. Every time we loaded a game up, it would start counting over from the beginning, even though all three of us were signed in and had already earned that achievement. Once, a notice popped up and never went away until we turned the game off. Another issue is the costume unlocks. It appears that only the first player can unlock costumes. I unlocked Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and the Thing throughout the game, and though we had Spider-man and Deadpool in our party the whole game, their alternate costumes never unlocked. When I played a bit solo controlling Deadpool, I saw the progress tracker for unlocking his costume pop up early. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps I am missing something, but it's frustrating nonetheless.
Perhaps my expectations for this game were too high. It is not a bad game, by any means, and we had a great time playing it. But Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 just doesn't have much depth. So much is missing from the original, I can hardly believe it took three years to make the sequel. The co-op is still great, allowing for four players online and off, but not being able to bring your own characters online takes it down a notch. While MUA2 is worth playing for the storyline alone, I'm not sure the oversimplified RPG elements and short game length will keep me coming back very often.
The Co-Op Experience: Join up with three other friends as you choose a super hero and combine powers for "Fusion" attacks.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.