Marvel Alliance

I got the Marvel Alliance game yesterday (via GameFly); holy crap what a let down. The hero selection stuff and cutscenes, excellent, but then you get the game itself…

It’s like freaking gauntlet.

Clearly a conflict of egos occured in the dev team. Everything is tiny to accomodate the fact you have four heroes running around as your team. So there’s little to distinguish most of them when you’re playing them. But clearly everyone wanted their bit of artwork or effects to stand out, so the world is full of oversized huge things – massive pits of flame, gigantic containers… You can zoom in/out some, but I think they put a ton of detail on everything which means that on a 32in screen theres a lot of aliasing going on and everything becomes very indistinct and samey – bland.

In the first few, grey, steel plating and corridor levels, enemies wearing shiny grey uniforms attack you and are animated with off-white grayish effects while your team of four dimly lit (i.e. gray appearing) characters pile into them using their various mele attacks to pound them until they pop in a little flurry of colors and coins.

Unfortunately the effects aren’t – couldn’t be – to scale with the characters, so when a fight breaks out, especially when 3-4 characters fight, it becomes a blur of effects which are largely very similar distinguished mostly by color. But when three characters simultaneously produce overlapping red, blue and green round swirly effects, the result is a round swirly grey effect that excellently conceals the action for you. And because it seems like everyone wants their effects to stand out, none of them do. I regularly find I’ve accidentally changed character 2-3 minutes ago and can barely tell.

The cool thing about Marvel Superheroes(R) is usually their unique traits/skills/powers. And yes, sometimes its about the way those overlap and interact. But in Alliance it all feels very homogenized.

Alliance does none of the characters real justice, but at least it does them all relatively equal injustice. That’s about the best thing I can say for the game. It feels like it was developed using one of those hokey Game Development Kits or Blitz Basic or something; it lacks any flair or joi-de-vive.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’m guessing that later on as you learn new abilities it might become a little more distinguishable. Theres a bunch of stuff for buying different outfits and gear for your characters, but I find that kinda laughable. They have stats effects, which if you’re really playing the game might work for you, but it seems almost pointless visually. The game has a penchant for a nearly top-down view of the characters so they are rarely broad enough for a whole bunch of visual detail.

Like I said, its like gauntlet, just without the redeeming qualities.

3 Comments

“Red Wizard is about to die!”

Ah 4 player Gauntlet II on the old ST, now that brings back fun memories.
Always had 1 play who just had to wake up EVERY dragon you came across, wether you needed to kill them to get by or not!

With these kind of top down games you’re quite right that big effects make them very unplayable.

I still kind of miss the days of the old 8-bit’s when there seamed to be so much originality in game designs & so much playability.
There is a reason that many of the old classics seam to appear on all the new consoles. There’s just something about the like of Robotron & Defender that still make them fun to play today, despite their very basic graphics.

I worked at a movie theater when Gauntlet II was around. We could open the case and get free games, so one night, four of us played for 8 hours straight. By the 7th hour of us yelling “take the fucking teleporter” at each other, I’d never hated 3 people simultaneously so much in my life. It was mutual all around. Good times.

Gawd I loved that game….The Wizard needs food, badly..

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