Marvel’s popularity has grown very well in the 10 years since Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 was first released, like trips to shared universes in both film and TV have driven the company to the forefront of the relevance of pop culture. Rather obscure characters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther have become known thanks to appearances in films that have become household names. This is our Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Review.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Review: About
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Team Ninja
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Genres: Hack and slash
- Release Date: July 19, 2019
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Review: Gameplay
In contrast, new characters such as Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Gwen have made their debut in the vivid pages of comic books. The stacked selection in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order reflects the past 10 years of Marvel’s history and gathers a cast of beloved characters, both old and new, who extend its reach to almost every corner of the cosmos. The diversity of Marvel Ultimate Alliance’s playable characters has always been the most substantial aspect of the series, as has Ultimate Alliance 3, where our favorite heroes work together for a fun adventure packed with synergistic action.
Like its predecessors, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 review is an isometric action RPG, hack-and-slash hybrid with four playable characters at any time that you can switch between. There are several inclusions of characters from the left field that are included in the wide selection, such as the monster hunt Elsa Bloodstone and The Inhumans’ Crystal. Still, it’s an otherwise familiar list of names with everyone from Hawkeye and Doctor Strange to Iron Man and Thor. Predictably, the plot revolves around the Infinity Stones after an accident by Guardians of the Galaxy has spread them across the earth and into the hands of the evildoers in the gallery of Marvel’s villains.
Thanos and his Black Order play their part; however, the story is less Marvel Cinematic Universe and more cartoons on Saturday morning. That works in favor of the game, and the light-hearted writing and the enthusiastic voice actors contribute a story that does as much as it can with so many characters competing for screen time. There are fun one-liners, and the characters feel loyal to those we know, with their reruns coming from the MCU, comics, and TV. It also helps that this is not only a repetition of flat ground, despite the presence of many common elements.
Instead, Ultimate Alliance 3 tells an original story that draws some inspiration from 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet, while also covering different aspects of Marvel’s films, comic books and TV shows to make something their own. Just look at the grid to see how Ultimate Alliance 3 draws from every eclectic branch of the Marvel machine. Costumes and character designs are carefully picked from a variety of sources – all homogenized by a uniform, comic book-inspired art style that’s full of color. However, the most important thing about these characters is how each of them feels to play.
Each hero has a light and massive attack that can unleash different combos, as well as four superpowers that are gradually unlocked as each character rises one level. There is also a block that destroys some damage and a handy role to get out of danger. Simple things. What makes the battle of Ultimate Alliance 3 to the next level is the variety inherent in each of its heroes and the countless ways they work together. Take, for example, someone like Captain America, who does everything he can to slap enemies in the face and follow a vibranium shield to the ribs.
He plays a lot different from a distance figure like Star-Lord, who is ideally suited to fight from a distance with his double element guns and flight-steering jets. The differences are not only limited to each hero’s choice of weapon or traversal; the Hulk is an unwieldy force of nature, Wolverine strikes with quick and agile cruelty and countless types of damage such as piercing, ethereal, fire and ice further differentiate each character. Then there are the skills that make use of the enormous superpowers of each hero. An energy meter controls how often you can let go of these hip attacks, but Ultimate Alliance 3 is pretty generous to replenish lost energy quickly.
This is important because using these skills with surrender and combining them with others is a lot of fun. The primary light/heavy combat is satisfying in itself. There are a lot of button presses, but battles can get pretty hectic when enemy missiles bounce all over the screen, so you still need to be wary of your positioning and avoid danger. Abilities add another layer so you can blow away a mass of goons with a wrecking bullet made up of Spider-Man’s webs, spin Mjolnir around in a deadly electrified circle, or mow someone unlucky enough to get in the way of Ghost Rider’s bike.
Proximity to teammates allows you to combine specific skills with others to unleash devastating synergistic attacks that amplify their damage-output. Whether it’s Iron Man bouncing off the shield of Captain America or Deadpool throwing a torrent of grenades as Storm thunderbolts from her fingertips, kill enough punishment. You can activate a significant Alliance Extreme attack that enables all four of your character’s synergistic attacks simultaneously, filling the screen with a vivid cascade of particle effects, explosions, and ever-increasing damage. The frame rate can become a hit at these times, but you’re only watching the fireworks at that point, so it’s not a problem in gameplay.
The level design is quite simple and leads you through corridors to more open areas with little deviation. However, this lends itself to a sense of forwarding momentum as you always encounter new enemies to fight. The only thing that slows it down is some annoying puzzles that fortunately are few, revolving around pressing levers and pushing boxes, and a camera that tends to get stuck behind objects or jitter up and down when they are not entirely blocked. This is an occasional problem during battles when you’re temporarily blind to enemy attacks, but it can also be annoying if you’re just passing through.
It’s a pity you can’t just forget that the camera is there, as each level takes place in a different location, and the environments on display are fantastically varied. Dimension-hopping moves the action away from Earth and into some of Marvel’s more bizarre situations as you run to the credits, and Ultimate Alliance 3 makes good use of the significant number of hostile factions that exist in the Marvel universe. Within the first few hours, you’ll fight your way through The Raft and tangle with Spider-Man’s nemesis before fighting The Hand’s ninja army with Daredevil and Iron Fist, creating a diverse mix of hostile types and aesthetics that will keep each level fresh. The same can be said of the abundance of boss battles you regularly encounter.
Faced with people like Green Goblin, Dormammu, and Ultron, you can be pretty challenging on the standard difficulty level. Fortunately, there’s surprisingly much depth when it comes to upgrading each hero. Aside from collecting XP to unlock more skills, you can also spend currency on improving each of their strengths, reducing energy costs, or improve their potential. There’s also a sprawling hexagonal skill tree that lets you buy stat upgrades that are applied to each hero on the roster, whether you’re improving their strength, vitality, and resilience or unlocking various offensive and defensive buffs.
Meanwhile, ISO-8 crystals allow you to apply additional bonuses to specific heroes. They’re minuscule things like increasing health or reducing damage under certain conditions. Still, it makes a difference and gives you a degree of adjustment that can be used to turn the tide of battle – without mentioning the importance of your chosen team’s makeup. By choosing heroes who work well together, different team bonuses are applied that can further improve their statistics.
This is based on tangible things like their connection to the team, intelligence, agility, and so on. You could put together a team from the original Avengers, X-Men, Defenders or Midnight Sons and see an increase in specific stats, which will also take into account whether one of the heroes has shared features such as “wisecracking warrior” or “anti-hero.” Maybe you want to put together a team of web garlands, Marvel royalties, or a team that includes the women of Marvel. You can recreate or mix and match canoe teams to create your teams based on what bonuses are applied and how they can help you.
The only problem with all this is that heroes will only level up if you use them. Increases in strength, vitality, and other similar skills are applied to everyone. Still, as you reach the second half of the campaign, the lack of skills, their upgrades, and the ability to equip multiple ISO-8s becomes noticeable on your lower level heroes, meaning you end up ignoring most of the selection because they just aren’t powerful enough.
The solution to this is in the form of XP bosts that you can discover within levels and by completing optional Infinity Rifts that give you the task of repeating custom boss battles and challenges to earn different rewards. However, getting enough XP bosts can be a long, tedious process, and that’s just to get enough to improve a single character significantly. The diversity of Ultimate Alliance 3’s roster is one of its main pillars, so it’s a blatant disappointment to feel limited to using a few heroes during the final hours.
After spending some time with the online cooperative of Ultimate Alliance 3, it is clear that although the server performance is not perfect, it is not bad either. Occasionally there is a delay that only affects the appearance of other players in your group, making them a little nervous while moving. Apart from being a small thorn in the side, this does not affect gameplay in any way. However, playing with less than four people is less than ideal, as the host is the only one who can change heroes in flight.
All the others are locked in their choice, although this is somewhat corrected by the abundance of SHIELD stations at each level that allows you to exchange characters in and out. Besides, playing more of Ultimate Alliance 3 in co-op emphasizes the game’s replayability and the sheer enjoyment that comes from using the heroes’ range. By going back and playing parts of the campaign, you’ll be able to use characters you’ve previously neglected, making it easy to fall into a groove and eager to get your final credits for a second time.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Review: Conclusion
Even more than its predecessors, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order excels because of the diversity of characters and the way the disparate heroes work together. It stumbles in places, but still, nothing beats the Ultimate Alliance series, and this highly anticipated third entry makes it a triumphant return for a superhero fighter who feels more relevant than ever. That’s it for our Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Review.
The stacked selection in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order reflects the past 10 years of Marvel's history and gathers a cast of beloved characters, both old and new, who extend its reach to almost every corner of the cosmos.