Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, the review

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
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The videogame tie-ins inspired by the Marvel universe are nothing new and the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series dates back to 2006, or to 2004 if you consider X-Men Legends the true progenitor. Although all these years have passed, the time had come to resurrect that old brand. Cinecomics have been going strong for some time now; Avengers: Infinity War e Avengers: Endgame have grossed millions of dollars, fielding a number of superheroes that have never been seen before, except in some comic crossover. It was logical, in short, that someone would have taken advantage of this propitious moment to take the video game path again, but no one expected that it would be Nintendo, together with the Japanese developer Team Ninja, and exclusively for Switch: a weird combination that raised more than one eyebrow. And while all eyes turned to Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics' Avengers project, which later revealed itself with a controversial trailer during the recent E3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 it took on more and more convincing contours, until it became an unmissable title for those who love comics and films from the House of Ideas.



All against the Black Order

That the story of the campaign was written by an expert screenwriter can be understood in a matter of minutes. Marc Sumerak, already known for having worked on famous publications such as Avengers, Fantastic Four and Thor, knows and understands perfectly the characters and their motivations: the dialogues are smooth, full of quotes and references to events that fans remember well, and the author wastes no time in explaining who these heroes are and why they know each other, except for the synthetic and ironic descriptions that accompany each entry on the scene. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 assumes that a fan is holding the controller, not necessarily just comics or movies, although the game is mainly inspired by the former: although it exists in a universe of its own, the title Team Ninja draws heavily on decades of print stories in both storytelling and character design. This makes any famous hero or enemy instantly recognizable, but the cartoonish style grants each of them an authentic and decidedly cartoonish personality.



The story begins with Guardiani della galassia who detect a very powerful energy signal from a Kree spaceship: Star-Lord and the others discover that Ronan and Nebula have found the gems of infinity, and as they struggle to get hold of them they are interrupted by the Black Order of Thanos, a team of assassins aliens who intends to bring the gems to the Titan. In the hustle and bustle, however, the gems disappear and end up on Earth. Warned the Avengers, begins a treasure hunt that will bring together the most powerful heroes on the planet: even the worst super-villains are in search of the gems that cannot and must not fall into the wrong hands. The gems, in the end, are a pretext to bring heroes and villains together and clash, but Sumerak writes a smooth and not at all forced script that leads the protagonists from one chapter to another, passing through the most famous scenarios of the imagination The Marvel movies: the Raft, the X-Men mansion, Wakanda, Asgard, the Dark Dimension and so on. Divided into a total of ten chapters, at the standard difficulty level - initially two, but a higher one unlocks - the campaign is completed in about ten hours or so.

There are no dead moments or interludes. The campaign is like a long film in which we gradually recruit more and more characters, to the point that already halfway through it we can draw on a roster of twenty heroes out of the thirty-two available at the conclusion, in addition to another four to be unlocked with the Infinity trials. : Elektra and Magneto, but we already knew this from the beginning, and others two surprise which we do not want to reveal to you here. In some moments of the game you catch your breath, near a checkpoint, and you can talk to the heroes nearby: they are short exchanges that offer some more details about the story and the characters and that tell small but interesting anecdotes. The most interesting thing, however, is the way in which Sumerak manages the narration: rather than crowding the shots with the boundless roster of characters, the Cleveland screenwriter chooses the most significant ones in the context of the moment and, in doing so, manages to give space to virtually every hero, both through cutscenes and through dialogue during the action. There direction she is intelligent, self-deprecating and well-groomed: she really feels like she is playing one of the best superhero crossovers ever.



The synergy of the heroes

Despite all the trailers and information released in the past months, it was difficult until the last moment to accurately frame this Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. An action game? An action RPG? A strange hybrid like the previous iterations? Joy-Con in hand, within a few minutes we had no more doubts: the new Team Ninja title is, essentially, a scrolling fighting game of those that, played in company, seal unforgettable evenings. The mechanisms are immediate and intuitive, you learn to play literally in seconds. Each hero has a light attack, which can be chained into quick and effective combos, and a heavy attack, more damaging but also slower, which mainly serves to reduce the daze Some Enemies: Once cleared, these opponents remain paralyzed and take more damage for a few seconds. A button allows you to jump - and to fly, in the case of certain heroes - and another to parry enemy shots: by holding this button down while moving the analog stick, our hero will dodge in the affected direction.

So far it all seems very simple, and indeed it is, but then the special moves to complicate the dynamics a little. Each hero learns up to four of them, one every five levels, and although they are customized, these moves fall into various categories. Performing them is very simple, just hold down the R shoulder and press the front button assigned to each move. It is not possible to use them indefinitely, since they consume a special indicator that regenerates over time or with the blue orbs that drop some enemies. A last yellow indicator is charged by attacking and, once at most, allows the use of the Extreme Technique, practically a super move with a spectacular and devastating area, which, moreover, can be launched simultaneously by multiple heroes. As we have said, they are simple dynamics that are assimilated in a few minutes and translate into extremely scenographic fights that recall the deeds of our favorite heroes on paper and in the cinema: Cap throwing the shield, Iron Man shooting missiles and proton beams left and right, Spidey swinging and trapping enemies in his webs, Hulk smashing and so on.



The huge roster of heroes - to which others will be added in the fall with the DLC already on sale - guarantees a variety of situations and techniques already wide in itself, but it is destined to improve with a very important mechanic that, as you progress in the campaign, it becomes essential to learn: the synergy. Some heroes, in fact, can combine their special moves to inflict greater and different amounts of damage. Doctor Strange can project his Faltine Flames onto the vortexes of Storm or Star-Lord to generate real fiery tornadoes, while Iron Man can fire his beams at the shield of captain America who will think about deflecting them against surrounding enemies like in the iconic scene from the Avengers movie. There are hundreds of combinations that do not just add up the damage of special moves, as you may have guessed, but in some cases also change their elemental attributes. In this sense, it becomes more and more fun not only to change the heroes to learn how to play them, but also the combinations of the team, composed of a maximum of four characters, to take advantage of the best synergies depending on the situation.

Co-op: fun guaranteed

Using synergies is very simple even when playing alone. There are two ways, actually. The former occurs whenever a nearby hero uses a special move that can combine with one of those characters you are controlling, and which you can change at any time by pressing the corresponding buttons on the left Joy-Con: for a brief moment, the 'interface he will prompt you to press the A button and if you are quick enough, your hero will use the appropriate special move along with his ally. The other way, on the other hand, allows you to decide for yourself when to use a synergy and with whom. Just press the ZR button to see which special moves you can combine with the surrounding heroes right now, then press the corresponding button to unleash hell on enemies. The artificial intelligence, in truth very good, will always respond to your orders and in this way you can tear to shreds the enemies or the special barriers that guard chests and others collectable and that can only be destroyed by specific synergies.

It is clear, however, that the synergy in single player is not nearly as satisfying as the one in multiplayer, especially if you are playing with someone physically next to you, whether they are playing on their TV screen or on their Switch connected to yours wirelessly. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 can also be played online, but we haven't had a chance to try this feature; That said, it was priceless to tackle the toughest Infinity Trials by coordinating attacks perfectly, perhaps by placing a nice fiery tornado where a new boss would appear just before he appeared, or by splitting up to reanimate fallen comrades - you can do a maximum of three times per fight, and not always - while our partner keeps enemies busy. To make the experience even more fun we think about the way in which the various stages are designed, which sometimes require the resolution of simple environmental puzzles, but above all the same boss fights that, in the dynamics, are very reminiscent of those of MMORPGs, complete with telegraphed attacks to dodge and weak points to hit at the right time.

The GDR dynamics

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 isn't just an ignorant scrolling brawler though, as it encompasses some pretty simple but meaningful RPG dynamics. We have already talked about it in a special special a few days ago, but let's take stock of the issue. In summary, you will essentially have to manage four RPG components. The first is the level up, and this is easy: your heroes gain experience points and level up, in doing so they learn new special moves and unlock new Iso-8 slots. They also earn Tech Points that you can spend together with other consumables to enhance individual special moves: fortunately you can also reset them and change the distribution at any time. Unfortunately you will have to grow each character individually, but luckily there are ESP cubes that help fill in these gaps and that the game lavishly lavishes on both the campaign and Infinity trials.

Then there is the Alliance Upgrade, accessible from the laboratory, where you can spend the Boost Points earned, along with credits, to unlock various passive bonuses that will affect the whole team, regardless of the heroes you have chosen. Considering that certain combinations of heroes grant additional bonuses, it is important to choose carefully the path to follow, because the starting hex branches into further hexagons that allow you to orient more precisely the choice of attributes you intend to improve. Speaking of attributes, the last GDR component is made up of Iso-8, special crystals that you will begin to find after a couple of chapters of the campaign and that you can equip as if they were normal accessories in an RPG. They improve the specific attributes of the heroes or grant bonuses of various kinds, but above all they can be broken down into primary materials that you can then consume to enhance your favorite Iso-8. Ultimately, the RPG component of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 becomes more and more interesting as you progress through the game, but you don't need to master it to perfection to complete the campaign. However...

Le prove Infinity

The GDR components take on a much greater importance when it is decided to deal with the prove Infinity, essentially the endgame of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. You will unlock them in different ways: automatically by completing the chapters of the campaign, finding the breaches in the stages or some special hidden chests. Accessible from the checkpoints of the SHIELD or from the main menu, the Infinity tests propose some objectives of the campaign, which can be short glimpses of stages or real bosses, with very specific rules and variations: sometimes you will have to fight alone, in some cases you will have to defeat a certain number of enemies in the shortest possible time, sometimes you will face two or more bosses together at the same time, perhaps losing health points over time or inflicting damage only with a certain type of attack.

The purpose of the Infinity Trials is pretty obvious - not only do they guarantee longevity that extends beyond the campaign, but they also allow lower tier heroes to grow with or without ESP cubes. They also unlock numerous rewards: Iso-8 crystals, ESP cubes at will, illustrations and information to consult in the special gallery, alternative costumes for the various heroes and even some extra playable characters such as Magneto or Elektra. Each Infinity Trial also offers up to three specific objectives and by accumulating a certain number of successes, other costumes are unlocked. Not all the Infinity tests are available immediately: some you will have to find, then you can only face them if you have passed at least one of the adjacent tests, going up a kind of pyramid from the easiest to the most difficult. It is clear that the structure implies a certain level of repetitiveness which varies according to your predisposition to this type of additional content: for our part, perhaps we would have preferred actually different costumes, rather than subtle chromatic variations.

Better on TV

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is played discreetly even in portable mode, but the confusion that is generated on the screen, together with the lower resolution and the obvious aliasing, involve some difficulties that diminish over the hours, getting used to it, but that it persists always and in any case. The image, in portable mode, in short, it is unclear and even less defined, a necessary sacrifice so that the game does not miss a beat in terms of frame rate even when the screen is filled with special effects, heroes and enemies who beat each other to the bitter end. Much better to play with the Switch in the Dock: The Team Ninja title returns a much cleaner full-screen image, thanks to excellent anti-aliasing and drastically higher resolution. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 does not show off billions of polygons and latest generation textures, but the artistic direction is extraordinary in its fidelity and offers extremely satisfying moments that seem literally straight out of a comic book.

Even on TV, the frame rate rarely hesitates, and it is easier to admire the smooth and well-kept animations of the various heroes. The only problem, in this sense, is the camera: the game allows you to set it in two different ways (normal, that is rather far and angled from above, or Eroica, practically behind the character we are controlling) but often it cannot be moved manually and ends up getting stuck in the tightest corners, losing sight of ours especially when we are indoors. Team Ninja has already released a corrective patch that has fixed the situation a bit, although there is still a lot of room for improvement that could make the experience much less frustrating. In outdoor locations, when there is more space, the camera behaves better and is able to embrace the scenery more naturally, but it remains a significant weakness in a technical framework that pleasantly surprised us, and not only on the front of the graphics: also the colonna sonora it is excellent, always spot on, and every single dialogue subtitled in Spanish has been excellently dubbed in English.

Comment

Resources4Gaming.com

8.5

Readers (27)

7.7

Your vote

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is, in a word, hilarious. It is a product designed especially for those who love the Marvel universe, especially the comic one, and therefore it is clear that if you do not like the superheroes of the House of Ideas it will not be the Team Ninja title that will make you change your mind. For a fan, though, the Switch exclusive is a simply must-see action game that expresses passion, care, fidelity and attention to detail through every pixel. With a compelling campaign and a good dose of extra content to flesh out, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is the ideal game to enjoy especially in company and, possibly, on the TV screen.

PRO

  • Compelling and well written campaign
  • Simple but interesting RPG mechanics
  • Fan service all couples
  • Great fun in multiplayer
AGAINST
  • In portable mode it loses clarity
  • Definitely improved camera
  • Infinity tests tend to be a bit repetitive
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