Comic books are a medium that will never truly die. Sure, the sales for comics are lower than they have ever been right now, but that hasn’t stopped a stream of film adaptations being made every year. This is especially true for Marvel Comics! Despite the fact that their comic imprint is pretty much dead, they are still making billions at the box office with their “Marvel Cinematic Universe” films.
The MCU has become the biggest money-maker in Hollywood and is a giant interconnected web of over 20 films and numerous TV shows. Of course, these aren’t the only things that spawned from the films. There’s also Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, a sequel/reboot to a classic game series that merges the comics with the films very well! With that being said, let’s talk about this game and what makes it so great!
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is the third entry in the franchise, while also being a definitive reboot for the series as a whole. It ditches established continuity in order to take elements from the many other Marvel continuities. The game focuses on the “Infinity War” plot-line from both the comics and the past couple Avengers films.
However, this game does a lot things different than its comic and film counterparts. Instead of making a straight-up adaptation of Infinity War, the quest for the Infinity Stones is used to take the players on a fantastical journey through the Marvel universe.
You fight numerous villains along the way, many of whom possess the fabled Infinity Stones. It’s your job to beat up the bad guys, join forces with over 30 classic Marvel heroes and villains, and stop Thanos from making the universe “not feel so good”. The story is basic, but it has a couple interesting twists that manages to make the main quest entertaining throughout.
However, the story isn’t the big draw of the game, that award goes to the game-play! Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a dungeon-crawling action RPG at its heart. You pick a team of 4 superheroes from a list of over 30 and then fight through hoards of henchmen and super-villains. With each of the 36 heroes having different powers, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, it makes choosing the right team a daunting task.
The game-play is pretty basic and is generally easy to get a hold of. You have your four superheroes, which you can switch to at will with a single button tap. Each hero has regular attacks and a set of four upgradable special attacks. The abilities for each hero tend to be distinctive and helps give each hero a unique flare. For example, Spider-Man can web enemies up and keep them from attacking, while Doctor Strange has several magical spells that are good at crowd control.
Making 36 playable characters distinct is truly a tremendous feat! What’s more tremendous than the amount of playable characters is the insane upgrade system in this game! You have special magical crystals called “ISO-8s”, which boost your stats and abilities. There’s also a large upgrade tree that’ll take months worth of game-play to fully fill out!
While the upgrade and equipment system is pretty fun, the game is way too grind-heavy. All of the characters in the game have to be leveled up individually, which means you’ll have to replay a lot of repetitive quests to get new characters up to the level of your current party.
Unfortunately, that’s the game’s biggest problem: It’s repetitive nature. The game offers a campaign that’ll run you a dozen hours at most, and it re-uses all of its boss fights and story missions in the “Infinity Trials”. These are special harder versions of missions in the story mode. While this sounds cool, they don’t do anything too new or different from the story missions. They just function like harder versions of pre-existing missions, while lacking in distinctive variation. While the Infinity Trials can offer new objectives and toss in a couple distinct challenges, these missions still lack in meaningful changes.
Let’s move onto the game’s presentation, which is stellar for a game of this ilk! The graphics are nice and cartoonish, which give the game a fun “comic book-y” feel. The game’s music is the kind of music you’d normally hear in a superhero game, nothing too special there. However, the game’s voice-cast is what truly sells the game’s presentation!
If you’ve grown up with any Marvel cartoon, video-game, or animated special in the past year, then you’ll definitely recognize the voices on offer here. Marvel and Disney went all out and hired back voice-actors from hundreds of different projects to come back to voice their characters. It’s one of the most stellar voice-casts ever assigned to a licensed video-game! Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man, Steven Blum as Venom and Wolverine, and Nolan North as Deadpool are just a few standout pearls in this ocean of amazing talent.
While the game looks and sounds awesome, it unfortunately has quite a few performance issues. For one thing, the game chugs when there’s too much going on. Whenever action fills the screen, expect your frame-rate to slow down considerably. Worse still, the game’s demanding graphics tends to kick the fans into over-drive. This causes the fans to go into over-time, which does burn through quite a bit of power. I’m hoping this does get patched later down the line.
With all this being said, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a fantastic time! The insane amount of characters, fantastic voice-acting, great visuals, and fun game-play definitely sell the title. However, it is hampered by its repetitive nature and occasional performance issues. The game is pure fun, but don’t expect anything “unique” or “life-changing”. It’s just a fun action game, which is all I could ask for!