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Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

Welcome to the review of what may be the best superhero game made to date. Definitely the best Hulk game of all time (but considering past offerings, that isn’t saying much). Made by the same company that brought us the Hulk movie game, here is an outing that takes all their previous mistakes out, and puts in a load of goodness back in. Focusing purely on the Hulk as a means of playing through the game and leaving Banner as a character for the story, we get to experience the full explosive destruction that the Hulk can manifest.

First and foremost, the game’s biggest plus (to me at least) is its open-ended playing style. Having a free-roam area to play in as the green goliath (much like Spider-Man 2), we are given the freedom and space to do almost anything you could ever imagine doing as the Hulk. From leap-frogging long distances in the badlands, and toppling giant boulders and rock formations, to tearing apart cars and signs and other things in a major metropolitan city. Featuring two decently sized free-roaming areas to play in (The Badlands, and The City) you can switch up what might have been an otherwise bland single area game. Spider-Man 2, where you are limited to Manhattan, despite how big it may be, shows that a more limited play area can get old. Here, at least you can switch from a desert full of giant rocks and cows (yes cows), to a city full of people and cars and giant buildings!

We’ll get back to the free-roaming later; on to the meat of the game itself. Levels in this game are a mix of a linear story following one path to an ultimate goal; you have a rather random assortment of levels presented to you in this path. Varying (not much) between protecting, retrieving, escaping and the obvious flat out destruction of everything and anything. While the missions may get tedious due to some being so similar, there’s some spark added to each with the purchasable move system, and the requirements of using new moves in new missions to add interest to the entire path of gameplay.

The move system is the other interesting aspect of this game. Throughout the story, as you accomplish your goals and beat various stages, you’ll inevitably reach the ends of chapters; there are about 6 chapters in total in the game. After each chapter new moves will be added to a large list of purchasable moves in the menu. Using the "Smash Points" you collect from beating stages, finding collectibles, and just all out destruction of the game worlds, you can purchase advanced fighting and power techniques to add to your repertoire. These moves add in the flavor you so want in a Hulk game, bringing in those classic and new style moves you tend to link to Hulk, such as grabbing a tank by its turret, spinning it around and around and finally releasing it to utter gratification as it explodes into another enemy. There’s also the added bit of "Weaponization" moves, which allow you to take various objects and turn them into weapons in your amazing arsenal. These can vary from turning cars into steel boxing gloves, and ripping the ball and chain off a crane to use like a yoyo inspired ball of destruction, all the way to ripping rocket launchers off of Mobile Missile Launchers, tossing it on your shoulder and ripping missiles out and chucking them. There’s also added defensive maneuvers, which allow you to grab missiles launched at you, or punch them, to redirect them back at your enemy.

There are a VAST amount of purchasable moves in this game, and you will have to beat most of the game to buy them all, and even then it will take you many fights to actually use them. And each carries with it an inherent glee as you open a can of whoop’ass rarely seen in video games.

Enemies throughout the game also get stronger as you do. Starting out simple as local police, then advancing into strike teams of choppers in the first parts of the game. Later chapters upgrade the basic enemies to rocket launching soldiers, and strike teams consisting of building sized mechs with smaller Hulk Busters at their sides come to destroy you, but by the time you face these opponents, you will have mastered enough power and moves to take on even the greatest of foes. This is one key element of the game’s success: the advanced development of both the Hulk and his enemies, to keep you on an almost level playing field. It never becomes TOO easy to do anything, but never so hard you get so frustrated you don’t want to play. Add in the ability to simply stop and go romping freely for fun anytime you wish to take a break and the game can be immensely enjoyable.

The game’s chapters are all capped by various types of boss battles, ranging from a huge mech controlled by General Ross which levels an entire city block in the fight against you, to the various stages of Abomination as he mutates. Amidst all this, you will fight varying levels of bosses; each may be harder or easier depending on the situation, but nothing too predictable or expected. Earlier bosses may be harder than some of the later ones, but in the end you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to defeat each and every one to progress your way to the end.

Now graphics-wise, it is about on par with Spider-Man 2; it’s not the prettiest game in the world, but considering the size of it and the details it contains, it’s damn good. The ability to leap from one building to another and see craters of cracks impact the landing spot, or crash into the side of a building and slide down it as you finally get your grip and see the path of destruction you’ve left is a priceless addition to the effect this game has. Add in the ability to simply grab things like trees and lamp posts, and a little secret, destroy ENTIRE BUILDINGS in the city area (you’ll figure that out your own, I’m sure), and this game makes playing as the Hulk all the more satisfying. There will be times when it may look lackluster, but gameplay and effects more than make up for the somewhat basic graphics in some areas. Most of the game, however, is still beautifully done; the desert areas and rock formations are quite stunning when running through them hell bent on destruction.

Free-roaming in the end is the diamond in the rough of this game. If the game was just purely linear levels with this type of combat system and effects and design, it would be a perfectly good game, but the addition of two open and free-roaming areas into the mix adds loads more fun. The ability to run around and discover secrets like the "Comic Book" icons for extras throughout the game, or causing random destruction to see just how much you can do before they stop you (which in the end is limitless). There’s also the added factor of the interactive people and cows. If there’s one thing you take from this review it is my sheer and utter (no pun intended) joy of having real people and cows, to interact with. Unlike Spider-Man 2 where interaction with people was limited purely to helping citizens in distress or combating enemies, here your able to either walk by people and strike fear in them with merely your presence, or go as far as picking them up for some playtime. Understand, though, that the game takes care not to make it seem too violent; picking up citizens in the games early city areas and doing any kind of "move" to them usually results in the Hulk holding them at arms length and flicking them off. They don’t "die" as much as they just disappear in the infinity that is gaming. The cows, however, may be the most powerful creatures in this game, even more powerful than the Hulk. Pick them up, chuck them miles away, into cars, or explosive barrels, or into other cows, no matter what you do they just shake it off and get right back up (Hah! Take that PETA!), and you can just go right back to punishing them. These kinds of little things are what make this game so great.

Amidst all this is a stellar cast of voice actors including the likes of Ron Pearlman (aka Hellboy), along with a talented writer (Paul Jenkins) and artist (Bryan Hitch), who designed most of the games characters. This all creates an interesting and much deeper story than you find in most games based on comic book characters. For that matter, it’s a quality that you don’t always see in video games in general. You’ll enjoy playing through the game and witnessing the story just as you would if you were reading it in a comic, only now you get to experience it first hand.

Overall, the game has its fine moments, in gameplay, design, look, and style. But is not perfect, it can get a little boring, even after beating the game and being given a free roam city and desert to have at, you will get a little tired of the Hulk after a while. And eventually the game will become more of a just for fun once in a while type of play rather than constant replay. However if you’re hardcore enough, beating the entire game opens up the ability to play the story mode over again with ALL of your earned moves and abilities, and you can even notch it up to a new difficulty ("Hard") if you wish to see how much punishment you can truly take. This adds another level of replay value to the game, but even so, it won’t last as long as some games. That and some of the repetitive missions keep this game from being perfect, but few games are. But if you’re a comic book fan, especially a Hulk fan, here is your wish come true when it comes to Video Games.

Final Score: 9/10

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