Also On: PC, Xbox One
Developer: Raven Software/Vicarious Visions
-Activision provided the Marvel Ultimate Alliance Bundle for this review-
If you’ve read a few of my reviews, you should be able to tell that I’m a pretty big Marvel fan. Comics, cartoons, movies, games, toys… I buy into almost everything they put out. 2006’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance and 2009’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 are two of my favorite titles from the past console generation. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is almost my all time favorite Marvel game as well (narrowly losing out to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions). Ever since I finished Ultimate Alliance 2, I’ve been waiting for a third title in the series with an even deeper roster of playable heroes and villains. Unfortunately my wait must continue, but in my opinion these current gen ports show that Activision and/or Marvel are trying to gauge popularity, and that could lead to a brand new title. At least, that’s what I hope, despite these titles and some other Activision ports just looking like lazy cash-ins (Prototype collection and upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron).
As I’m sure you may have seen, these ports are not receiving favorable word of mouth. From missing DLC, missing achievements, and UI/technical glitches, it hasn’t been a smooth rerelease (and that isn’t even close to the issue the ports have received on the PC). But there is some light at the end of the tunnel since Activision has come out to say they intend to fix the problems. Patching the game and adding in the previously excluded DLC (for free) is a good start, and it shows that Marvel and Activision are listening (or that if you make a big enough stink, something will get done). I played the bundle on the PS4 and besides immediately noticing that the DLC for Ultimate Alliance 1 was not included, I didn’t notice any of the problems people were reporting.
The bundle is billed as having graphical enhancements, and that should be taken with a grain of salt. The only noticeable improvement are the character models. They look smoother and shinier than the original releases. On the other hand, a lot of the level designs and the gameplay elements don’t hold up to the test of time (more problematic in Ultimate Alliance 1), but this isn’t a major issue. If you like these titles prior, you will still get a kick out of returning to the franchise. If you are brand new to the series, depending on your love for Marvel, you might be able to get passed the last gen look and feel. The cut scenes are an issue I just can’t look past, though. The cut scenes in both games look horribly dated and there’s no reason why they couldn't have redone these scenes. Capcom, who love to port titles and cash in on previous releases (the 28th rerelease of Resident Evil 4 is coming later this month), usually even remasters the cut scenes on their ports.
At the end of the day, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance Bundle is exactly what you would expect; the previous gen games, on the current gen systems… Nothing more and nothing less (well actually a little bit less at the moment, but Activision is owning up to fixing that). It’s a no-brainer for Marvel fans that have never played either titles to pick up this bundle. Meanwhile fans that have already played one or both of the titles might have a hard time justifying the hefty $59.99 MSRP for 10 and 7 year old last gen titles. Hopefully Marvel and Activision aren’t using sales numbers for this bundle to gauge the interest on a Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, because bad word of mouth and overpriced MSRP has all but killed any buzz for these comic classics. I can still dream though, can’t I? Marvel Ultimate Alliance style gameplay and the Infinity gauntlet storyline seem like a match made in video game heaven.