Marvel Ultimate Alliance is one of those rare successful Activision franchises that hasn't (yet) been turned into a grind of yearly sequels, though there have been numerous other Marvel games over the past three years since Ultimate Alliance's release. The true sequel will finally be arriving this fall, on every current-gen system out there - Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, Nintendo DS, and of course PC.
The Ultimate Alliance series is a rather simple action-brawler-RPG hybrid, with the main draw being the large cast of Marvel characters that you can play as and fight against. The first game had a pretty generic super-villains plotting to take over the world story, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 moves in a different direction by taking place during Marvel's Civil War timeline. The main plot point here involves a bill being passed by the US government requiring all superheroes to register and reveal their secret identities. Obviously this doesn't sit well with all the masked vigilantes out there, and sparks an ongoing struggle between the two factions - one who supports the bill and one who opposes it.
All the Marvel fans out there will no doubt love the fan service poured into the game, with 24 various heroes and villains included for play. You pick a character, have up to three of your buddies (or AI partners) pick their own, and the four of you go into levels and beat up enemies and environments, gaining experience and health/energy points along the way. As you level up, you'll put points into your special abilities, adding to your damage, for example. Unlike in the first game, in Ultimate Alliance 2 your upgrades will get applied to all characters you play, so that you don't have to feel locked into a single character that you put all your experience into early on.
We got to see the HD version played, and it looks like a small upgrade over the original game, which is still pretty good with all of the action taking place on the screen. The main new draw to Ultimate Alliance 2, in addition to the new storyline and levels to play through, is the addition of Fusions. Every pair of Marvel characters will be able to combine their abilities into a unique special attack, greatly expanding the variety of gameplay you can mess around with and encouraging the players to experiment with different character combinations. For example, putting Thor and the Human Torch together creates a flaming tornado that you can move around the screen to swallow up enemies. Putting Thor with Deadpool instead creates a similar grenade tornado. Storm can team up with Captain America to charge up his shield with lightning to fling at enemies, or with Juggernaut to give him an electric charge as he runs around. Or you can have Songbird put Juggernaut into a sonic cage that he can roll around in for even more damage. Iron Man can team up with Wolverine by reflecting lasers off of Wolverine's claws. Or you can have the Hulk toss Wolverine around at enemies. There's a lot of possibilities, though it seems like there will probably be a lot of overlapping similar powers as well.
There wasn't a whole lot more to the demo other than showing off the different Fusion powers. One level took place in Dr. Doom's fortress, while another had the characters romping through Washington DC. At one point there was a boss fight against a giant spider robot being controlled by the Tinkerer. Overall though, if you were fans of the first game then you'll probably enjoy Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 as well. The game will launch September 15th in the US, and later in the fall in PAL.
We've got three trailers to show off for the game, one from E3 and two others showing off the characters Songbird and Deadpool. Check them out below.