By Dean Moses
Game: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Platform: Nintendo Switch Price: $59.99
Rating: T for Teens
Like people, video game franchises evolve over time, learning from mistakes and getting better at their chosen fields. Beginning life as X-Men Legends, this action Role Playing Game (RPG) has trans-formed into Marvel Ultimate Alliance, now with its third installment exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.
To Prevent A Snap Back
Although this title takes its cue from the popularity of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe,) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is set in its own comic book creation. The out of this world story begins with the titular Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and, of course, Groot as they set out on another fantastic adventure through space. After some comedic banter, the Guardians board a Kree warship. Before long the quintuple come across the legendary infinity stones, which ultimately—no pun intended—lead to the guardians meeting up with some of earth’s mightiest heroes, including the likes of Spider-man, Thor, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, and many, many more of which you unlock throughout the game.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a top-down action RGP. This means that while your characters smash, crash, and bash enemies they will also level up, making them strong-er, snagging them new and more powerful abilities. The customization factors are increased four-fold thanks to the capacity to have up to four heroes in battle at once. Not only that, this foursome can perform combo moves to cause even greater damage, not to mention that players gain superior bonuses if team members consist entirely of famed comic book units such as the X-Men or the Avengers. Each character is well-represented, too. Spider-Man can web-swing through levels and tie up foes with his silky string while others such as Star-Lord can fly thanks to his jet-boots and shoot bad guys with his dual pistols.
Controlling them is rather easy thanks to light and heavy attacks being assigned to a single button respectively—which can be combined for combos—while special powers are initiated by holding R and pressing anyone of the four faces buttons. Fights can and often do resort to button mashing affairs, still the developers have done a great job of trying to keep things interesting, especially during boss fights. Players must attack an opponent’s famed weak spot, for instance crippling Doctor Octopus’ steel legs or causing an alarm to weaken Venom. However, while a good idea, this can be a little cumbersome at some points. Hopping onto a water gun in order to solidify Sandman so he can be vulnerable to attacks is somewhat frustrating. Thankfully, like previous entries in the series, the action can be enjoyed by up to four players either online or offline. This is the ideal way to play and makes for many memorable moments. Unfortunately, this does not come without its own problems. During our time with couch co-op, we spent as much time fighting with the camera as we did with the villains. Our view was constantly pulled back and forth, obscuring gameplay for one of the four gamers.
A Cast to Marvel At
Let’s start off by saying this game looks as fantastic as the figures it is based on. Character models are presented with a level of shine and detail that pops from the screen, which is made even better thanks to a roster of over thirty iconic Marvel names, with even more on the way via downloadable content. Despite being based off the comic books, it is clear Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s voice actors are attempting to imitate their MCU counterparts. This can be disorienting at points.
The writing team has done an incredible job of crafting an engaging narrative that encompasses so many characters—Marvel fans will be excited to interact with and fight against such a large group. Game-play is button mashing fun interspersed with unique boss fights and annoying puzzles. Most of all, 4-player is a joyous experience even with villainous camera angles.