Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel were games I noticed but never got around to playing.
Nintendo’s decision to publish a sequel after all this time though completely changed my priority of the series as if they were willing to totally back it like this, there must be something there to check out, and for the most part that intuition was right.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Black Order kicks off its own story independent from its predecessors which is perfect for newbies… me included. The Guardians of the Galaxy are looking for their usual paydays when they come across Nebula and Ronan guarding the Infinity Stones for Thanos. They quickly defeat them and scatter the stones for protection when the Avengers come to check the commission out at the prison where they are wandering around. This kicks off a plot that is generic, but good enough to give a motivation for the game as you wander around beating bad guys as more Avengers and opponents join your team to save the Universe.
If it sounds like the general gist of the MCU with a lot more characters, it pretty much is, and that’s fine.
The real meat of the game is running around beating enemies with that massive cast of characters. At any given time, you have four characters in the squad which can be filled with local multiplayer or online and filling the roster with AI when needed. I generally spent the bulk of the time as myself and three AI characters which was fine for how I wanted to play the game, a generic, isometric action game on the go.
The general gameplay is like an isometric action game where you wander around areas beating lots of generic baddies and smashing crates to get some sweet loot. There are slight variations like side on sections, and sections where it zooms in more, but for the most part it’s a generic isometric action game, which to be honest is fine as I’m here for the characters. One thing I like is there are varying bonuses depending on the four characters you use, and they vary a lot like getting them from a same canonical team, or one for filling your team with women of Marvel. It’s a little detail that has you put a little more thought into which superhero super team you construct.
With the minimalistic plot, and the massive cast, short bursts on your commute is the best way to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Long stretches of time I felt the gameplay and areas to become repetitive. This isn’t as much of a flaw if you are doing an hour in the morning and an hour on the way home like I did.
As your cast fills up you will want to swap between them to keep the game varied.
Annoyingly the game has a leveling up system but you only level up the characters you are using, meaning you will need to grind like crazy if you want to switch back to a character you have had for a while, or like me you can never go back and use the same characters to news ones that join you at your level. This is a bit of a flaw as being able to switch all the time would be a huge benefit to keep the game varied. You do earn some experience cubes you can use to level your weaker characters up, but it won’t be enough to completely negate grinding.
The game looks fantastic on the go, and a little simple on the TV.
The excellent character designs are built from a combination of their media such as comics, movies, and TV. This means that for the most part you won’t be seeing it as a knock-off of the MCU in the way the upcoming Avengers game feels like. Instead it feels like a fantastic mish mash of all their properties for one absurdly fun reunion, and with a classic Wolverine in tow I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear with a lot of the characters.
One minor annoyance was some of the voice actors seemed to be trying to do impressions of the cast of some movies like Rocket Racoon. This doesn’t quite gel and does seem like a knock-off rather than an interpretation a lot, but that’s a minor gripe in the scheme of things. The game makes sure it squeezes in as many quips as possible, which means a lot don’t land, but enough do that I laughed plenty while playing the game.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Black Order isn’t a game that is going to blow you away with anything overly new or intuitive. What it does is present an opportunity to play as a lot of your favourite characters as you smash your way through lots of enemies, and some classic villains from the Marvel back catalogue. Plus, any game that lets me fight with Spider-Gwen and Captain Marvel in the same team is great by me.
Released: July 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch