It's a clever system, and one that starts working right away. Levelling up Hulk now feels more organic, and there's obviously been some influence here from Crackdown, with new abilities directly tied to making use of the powers they're based on. The game even features hidden canisters, which make a familiar pinging noise when you're nearby.
There's no getting away from it - the game is certainly fun. Most of the praise for this really should go to Radical, who made Ultimate Destruction, but Edge of Reality has been smart enough to make sure that simply moving Hulk through this fragile environment is entertainment in its own right. There are mini-games to play, should you wish to lug taxis from one place to another or take part in horrible checkpoint races, and there are also lots of collectables scattered across the city. One of the more curious are Landmark Tokens, which can be found inside famous New York buildings, both genuine Manhattan icons, like the Empire State Building, and Marvel locations, such as Dr Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum and Dr Doom's Latverian Embassy. To get them out, you need to demolish the building, which leads to the curious sight of Hulk protecting the city from fiendish villains, only to destroy it block by block himself, like some gamma-mutated Bin Laden, just so he can pick up tokens.
Sadly, that's where the good news dries up. The story missions are a dreary bunch, almost entirely devoid of challenge and the sort of mindless tasks that a vaguely skilled player should be able to rattle through in a couple of hours. Obviously, the content is rather dictated by the character, but even then it doesn't take long to grow tired of the "go here, smash this" routine. An over-reliance on escort and protection missions doesn't help, though these are more irritating than downright frustrating. There's a half-hearted attempt to keep the thread of the movie story running through the game, but it doesn't really work. Ed Norton, Tim Roth and all the other main stars provide voice work for the mission briefings and occasional cut-scenes, but you can tell their heart isn't in it. Norton, in particular, sounds like he's reading his lines while under heavy sedation.
It's the visuals that really let the game down though. If you can think of a graphical sin, this game commits it. Most noticeable is the general low quality of everything that isn't the Hulk. While he gets a mostly decent hi-res model, everything else looks no better than Ultimate Destruction, and sometimes looks a whole lot worse. Objects clip through each other constantly, while the frame-rate drops dramatically whenever there's too much to render. This is basically every time you jump, and since jumping is your primary mode of transport, the game lurches and judders for most of your playing time.
There are even obvious and repeatable glitches. Jump into water, and Hulk automatically jumps back out again. Fair enough, except his freefalling animation gets stuck every time, leaving him skating along the ground, flailing his arms and legs like a jazz dancer. Then he inexplicably catapults backwards, back up into the air, before landing and resuming normal behaviour. Similar, yet smaller, quirks occur while climbing up buildings or jumping in places where you don't really fit. Hulk hangs in the air, sliding against invisible barriers or grasping at surfaces that aren't there. It's gruesome, sloppy and a pretty obvious indicator that the looming movie release date meant this got shoved out of the door before the code had been polished.
The poor technical quality of the game isn't quite enough to dim the innate amusement of thundering around New York as the Hulk, but it's certainly enough to drop this from "long awaited next gen remake of a great game" to "yet another movie tie-in that's only really good for a weekend rental".