A remaster that came out of nowhere, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel arrive on current-gen consoles (with a PC port of the sequel) but it's fair to say that the experience falls well short. The extent of the disappointment is as variable as the quality of the ports themselves and indeed the platform you choose to play them on. Uneven frame-rates and some horrific bugs show up the lack of polish embellished on these conversions and to be frank, we deserved so much more.
And when we talk about variation in quality between the quality of the ports, we aren't joking. There's a massive difference between the first two games, with the original offering up shaky performance levels while bizarrely, the sequel delivers far more consistent frame-rates. Both games run at native 1080p on PS4 and Xbox One with post-process anti-aliasing in play. This lends the presentation a smoother, more refined look over the 1080p mode found in the first Ultimate Alliance on PS3, which operated with the full pixel count but utilised no AA at all. A similar set-up is also present on PC, where graphical settings are limited to high, medium, and low presets, though you can of course adjust resolution and toggle v-sync.
For the most part all three versions share the same level of asset and effects quality, although there are some differences in places. For example, shadows are unfiltered on Xbox One and PC in the first game, leading to pixelation around these elements, while normal maps are handled differently in the sequel on Microsoft's console, with brickwork appearing slightly flatter as a result.
I loved the Marvel Ultimate Alliance Games. They were easy-going co-op fun that left this Marvel enthusiast smiling from ear to ear.
Editor's note: To mark the occasion of Marvel Ultimate Alliance's re-release, we tempted Dan Whitehead back from semi-retirement to explore what made the original so special. It's worth noting that the PC port has some issues, and Digital Foundry will be along to assess them in due course.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 are being spruced up and re-released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One this week. They're due Tuesday, 26th July (which probably translates to Wednesday for European PlayStation Store), and can be bought either in a two-game bundle for $60, or individually for $40, which sounds rather steep for old games.
Activision has confirmed that a sequel to action RPG Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is on the way.
Once again Eurogamer bravely ventures into the no-man's-land of cross-platform games development with the latest in our ongoing PlayStation 3 vs Xbox 360 features.
The objectives here are very straightforward. Due to the way that code is distributed by the publishers, Eurogamer tends to review the Xbox 360 games first, so the main aim is to play 'catch-up' and provide additional platform-specific commentary where appropriate. We're interested in any gameplay differences, along with peripheral or feature support exclusive to a particular console. But additionally, we're also keen on charting the progress of cross-format development more generally, so we also provide technical observations and comparison shots that highlight the similarities and differences between the various versions.
As always we do our best to ensure that the screenshots we take are of the utmost quality. Thanks to the arrival of a plush, new, slightly quieter Xbox 360 Elite (reviewed previously) and its all-important direct digital output, we're able to provide all screenshots on both formats via lossless 24-bit HDMI, hooked up to a HD capture unit, captured at both 720p and 1080p where appropriate.
Marvellous news for Ultimate Alliance fans, and not just that we won't be able to use that joke again for a while: April will see the release of downloadable content for the Xbox 360 version, introducing eight new playable characters.
It might not have been the most glamorous of last year's winter line-up, but Raven's X-Men Legends II was, by all accounts, a compulsive "Baldurian dungeon crawler with a comic book bent" that improved on the previous XML in every way possible. We slapped a mighty (and well deserved) 8 out of ten on the end of the review and literally nobody argued with the score. Imagine that happening now.
Part of the reason nobody made a noise about it, of course, is that relatively few people care about old-school action RPGs that evoke memories of Gauntlet and, more recently, Diablo. They look a bit, well, crap, don't they? The whole isometric four-man party hackandslash dungeon-dwelling thing isn't exactly the sexiest type of game on the shelves, and consequently the cycle is already repeating itself this year with Raven's latest comic-book-tinged take on all things Marvel. Shame.
Anyone who played either of the X-Men Legends games will pretty much know the drill inside out by now. The premise in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is utterly identical ("Beat the maniac who wants to kill everything in the world ever!"), the gameplay and progression system familiar and well-worn ("Kill lots of monsters! Gain XP! Kill some more! Upgrade your abilities! Now kill the huge, super-powerful BOSS!"), the visuals decidedly old school... Unless you're a massive comic fan with a penchant for dungeon crawlers, it's not an exciting game to talk about. But it is supremely playable and one hell of an addictive little sod, and that's really all that matters.
Held at the entirely unremarkable Marriott hotel in downtown LA, after being bribed with slightly stale pastries and fancy imported teas, we, the assembled throngs of the press were ushered into a surprisingly intimate meeting space for Activision's pre-E3 press conference. Opening with traditional bluster, Activision revelled in not only holding the status of No. 2 publisher in the US overall, but also scoring the No. 1 Xbox 360 title with Call of Duty 2, allowing it to segue nicely into announcing its next-generation line-up - the pride of place going to Call of Duty 3, in development for all three next generation systems. No further details were revealed about the title, though we know Treyarch, not Infinity Ward, is developing it, and neither does it appear that they feature at the show in playable form. Thankfully, Activision proved to be a lot less tight-lipped on the other major franchises that are a major part of their upcoming line-up - not least new Tony Hawk's titles Tony Hawk's Project 8 for PS3 and Xbox 360, and Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam on Nintendo Wii (and DS and GBA).
Activision and Raven have targeted virtually every conceivable platform with their next Marvel action-RPG - as well as opening it up to include much more than the usual X-Men characters.