STAFF REVIEW of Marvel Ultimate Alliance Bundle (Xbox One)

Thursday, August 18, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Marvel Ultimate Alliance Bundle Box art One of the biggest trends we see in gaming in today's world is companies re-releasing older quality IP's at a discounted rate to the consumer on the most current gaming platforms. In doing this, it's typical fashion for the gaming world to receive a remade or enhanced copy of the game itself. Recently an old classic, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Alliance 2, were recently released for the Xbox One. Once on the cutting edge of what we could expect on the Xbox 360, these games received rave reviews, and the DLC made this entertaining experience even better. This release is priced at $39.99 + tax per game, or you can save $20 by getting a bundle at $59.99 + tax. Without a doubt that is a steep price tag, but is it worth it?

Before we dive in, I have to confess that I'm a huge Marvel fan. I bought both these games on the Xbox 360 and loved what they brought to the table back in the day. Well, for those who aren't familiar with these games, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 are top down action RPG titles that enable you to select a team of 4 to venture forth on a storyline fit for the Marvel Universe itself. I don't want to say much about the story because it's one of the great features that make up the heart and soul of these games, but let's say it involves the end of mankind, an alliance of villains, and a whole lot of overacting. There is a problem in this package though, in that the DLC for Ultimate Alliance 1 is nowhere to be found, but yet for some weird reason Ultimate Alliance 2 has all the DLC included. Let me break that down really quickly.

$39.99 for Ultimate Alliance, a game that is almost a decade (10 years) old and that does not provide any DLC content. Or $39.99 for Ultimate Alliance 2 with all the DLC content provided. That's essentially what you're looking at here with these two games. Thankfully Activision has stated that the DLC will release for Ultimate Alliance as a free update, but details as to when are not much more than "coming soon". I'm sure this was a simple oversight, however, I would think that maybe adjusting the price point accordingly until the DLC is released would provide some assistance to helping mend some really broken fences with the gaming world. Will that happen? Who knows. Any who, let's press on shall we?

As I just mentioned these are action RPG games, and with a long extensive list of possible super heroes and villains, your selection of available powers and talents (which have to be unlocked by leveling up your character) is truly deep and provides incredible ways of using your character's skills. As you progress through the levels and break and destroy everything, you'll unlock coins to which you can spend learning and improving skills and abilities. It's fairly straight forward which is nice, but you will be farming for a very long time if you want to max out every ability possible.

When these games first launched almost a decade ago, the play control was very good despite some issues with the camera, and the same gameplay mechanics carries over to the Xbox One version, however it almost feels like this game received absolutely nothing in terms of tweaked or improved controls. Your RS operates your camera while the LS controls your character movement. You have a weak attack (A button) and a strong attack (B button) and utilizing the RT you can access abilities that are mapped to various face buttons. When you break it down, it's fairly simplistic controls. Now this doesn't mean it's a bad thing, however, it just means it's a lazy thing. Is it that time consuming and resource hungry to simply improve the responsiveness of the controls or maybe, just maybe, improve the camera system? I say this because you also feel that this game is also under powered when it comes to its graphics; and you know what? It is.

When the first Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Alliance 2 came out, they were a fantastic graphic release by combining amazing cinematic cut scenes that almost felt like you were watching some CGI Hollywood spectacle, and tremendous character models that seemed incredibly detailed and sporting their own individual personality. The sequel continued this trend, and together both of the Ultimate Alliance games became staples that developed a cult following. Thankfully all of this is included in this release, however, if you were expecting an HD remake, you're going to be sorely disappointed. I feel it's important though to make a note that the developers warned the gaming public ahead of time to not expect a remastered version, but rather "touched up" for the current generation systems. And this is where the crux of the problems resides.

What "touch up" were they talking about? It literally feels like I stepped back in time back to October 2006 and as if nothing was done to provide any significant benefit or improvement. However, they are asking $20 below original retail price, yet I could go to GameStop now and buy a used Xbox 360 copy for $9.99 of Ultimate Alliance; or I could spend $40 for this Xbox One version. The games would be almost 100% identical, and that's what confused me the most. After much deliberation I know what the real mistake of this release was. It was the cost.

Even though the developers told us not to expect really any enhancements with this release, they priced their game right out of the market, especially when they neglected to include the DLC. I can't deny that the games are good, however, there's too much going against it to say that a $40 price point is worthwhile for little to no improvements over the decade old original. I could see a price point of $9.99 and let these games sell all night long, but with everything factored in, this is a textbook case of a straight cash grab, even though the game itself is great. Save your money until they go on a big sale.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.6 / 10
Visuals: 8.8 / 10
Sound: 7.8 / 10


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