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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Marvel Ultimate Annoyance (Wii version)

I think I'm pretty much over MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE -- the Wii version, at the very least. Probably any version, though, as I have to assume that most of the stuff that aggravates me about this game is going to remain constant regardless of game platform.

The first thing that aggravates me is the different costumes the characters have. Now, if I hadn't used a cheat code to unlock all the different costumes, this could very well have been enough to keep me from ever starting the game in the first place, as both Captain America and Thor start in their Ultimates costumes, and I'd rather use a World War I limpet mine as a suppository than play either of those characters as their Ultimates version. But, I did use that cheat code, (as well as cheat codes to unlock all the characters, and to unlock all the powers) so that wasn't a hurdle for me. I wanted to put Cap and Thor in their classic costumes, and I did, and that was that.

However, two aspects of the costumes continue to annoy me. First, the cut scenes in this game do not have sophisticated enough software behind them to change out the characters, or their costumes, to correspond with the characters/costumes you are actually using in the game at the time that the cut scenes come up. So, whenever you get one of these cool little animated movies (and some of them are very cool indeed), if there are heroes in them, it's rarely or never the heroes you are actually running through the game at that point, and they are never wearing the costumes you have put them in. Which means, you get a great big heaping helping of Ultimates Cap and Ultimates Thor in nearly every little movie inset. (And a lot of Deadpool and Elektra, too, which frankly sickens me; I hate those characters and never ever run them.)

Now, I admit, it could be worse: Iron Man is in a lot of those movies, too, and for some reason I am eternally grateful for, the programmers did not choose to put him in his Ultimates costume. (They also didn't put him in his Classic armor, as I have chosen to do, but you can't have everything.)

I also admit, it would probably be prohibitively expensive to create alternate versions of each cut scene movie showing all the different possible combinations of characters and costumes an individual player might be choosing to use at any different point in the game. But, you know, fuck that. If the alternative is I have to keep looking at Cap and Thor in their crappy stupid Ultimates costumes (and Wolverine, Elektra, and Deadpool ever, at all), then I vote for prohibitive expense... and anyway, I can't believe it would be all that expensive. You program the computer to lay in a different image over a generic, cut out body form in each movie, corresponding to what characters were present the last time a game was saved. Can't be too hard... although I admit, I really have no idea what I'm talking about here. Which doesn't keep me from wanting what I want, goddamit.

That's the first aspect of the costumes that irritates me. The second is of greater concern to me -- each of the different costumes has its own built in enhancements and modifiers. This means that if you want to run the best, most effective version of a particular character, you may have to dress them in a costume you would not normally choose to have them wear. This would only be mildly irritating if, for example, the choices of Captain America costume were, like, WWII Cap (with the kite shaped shield, the somewhat differently shaped hood, and no stripes on his back), Classic Cap (with the traditional round shield), the U.S. Agent Cap (which Cap himself actually wore for a while, albeit in spectacularly crappy Mark Gruenwald stories) and the original Nomad outfit (which I frankly would find to be an awesome option). But nooooooo, out of the four options available, one is the goddam horrifying modern Ultimates Cap outfit and the other one is the outright appalling Ultimates WWII Cap uniform and regardless of what advantages those outfits may offer, I will never never never never never under any circumstances run a Captain America dressed that way, NEVER!!! -- and FUCK YOU ULTIMATES WEENIES GODDAM YOU ALL TO HELL YOU ASS LICKING NUTS LAVING SONS OF WHORES!!!!!!

So, because some (if not many) of the costumes available are vile, intolerable, and execrable, I intensely dislike the fact that the various different costumes offer various different pragmatic, useful options. Change the costumes, or make them all the same, or make the Ultimates costumes suck and the Classic Silver Age costumes rule; these are the only acceptable options.

So that's why I find how the costumes work in this game annoying, and, again, if I hadn't used a cheat code to unlock all the costumes, this might well be an impassible barrier towards playing the game for me. But, as it is, it isn't, it's just a constant recurring annoyance. Of which there are quite a few, the next of which is --

Power access. Unlike in KOTOR, the HUD in this game does not tell you what each of the hero's powers are as you are toggling between them. You have to memorize about six hundred different symbols, many of which are indistinguishable from each other if you are sitting more than six feet from your TV. This is annoying as shit. What I end up doing is toggling from one power to another pretty much at random, trying something out to see what it is (all the time hoping I haven't just blindly chosen a power that will drain all my hero's energy points in one shot). As there are twenty different heroes, and they all have like ten different powers, it's a lot of different power icons to try and memorize. Fortunately, I only want to play about half to 2/3s of the available heroes, so that helps, but not enough.

With the Wii, you also tend to trigger various different powers you didn't know you had, usually at the most inopportune movements, because with the Wii, random hand gestures actually do things. This is also annoying.

And then there's --

Character choice. This game boasts that it includes 140 characters from the Marvel Universe, and it probably does, but only 20 of those are playable. Now, you try to cut something as vast and varied as the entire cast of the Marvel Universe down to 20 playable characters and you're going to find it impossible to please everyone -- hell, you'll probably find it impossible to fully satisfy ANYone. But, having said that --

* DEADpool? You had twenty roster slots open and you wasted one on fucking DEADpool? Whoever made this decision needs to be tasered in the nads, pronto.

* Wolverine -- okay, I know it was inevitable, he's the most popular character by far that Marvel Comics has ever created, but I don't have to like it, and I don't. FUCK Wolverine, and every slavering drooling fanboy that truculently demands his presence in every single authorized Marvel game, ever. What, like fifty three different X-MEN and solo Wolverine games aren't enough for you assholes? Lick my balls, Logan-boys.

* Elektra? I know she got her own movie, but guys, it SUCKED. There are so many other Marvel characters more worthy of a slot here than goddam fucking Elektra, honestly, it makes me want to cry.

* Luke Cage? Okay, I know you're desperate for non-white characters, and frankly, Luke used to be one of my all time favorite characters, but honestly, what in the name of sweet loving Jebus does a great big black superstrong guy bring to the gaming table here that five thousand other better characters can't bring better?

* Blade? Yeah, yeah, three movies, and another non-white character, plus, you can put him in supernatural theme teams with Ghost Rider and Dr. Strange, but, still, he seems like a lame-ass in this group, and I've never been persuaded that Blade and all those other occult characters should exist in the same universe as the X-Men and Iron Man.

* Moon-Knight? MOON fucking KNIGHT? Has somebody lost their frickin' MIND? He doesn't have a movie, he isn't in the X-Men, he's not only a white guy, he's like FOUR DIFFERENT WHITE GUYS. I mean, it's... there's no... you can't... FUCK!!! Moon-Knight???? Jesus!

* Spider-Woman? SPIDER-WOMAN? It... I... ::gibbering:: Seriously, what the fuck?

* Ms. Marvel -- see Spider-Woman. Add more gibbering. Pump up the volume on WTF. Okay, I can see where you'd want a few female characters, and I can also understand how Storm has to be one of them so I'm not bitching about her, particularly, but, come ON now. If you're going to use Ms. Marvel, why not just give us Captain Marvel instead? He's got like seventeen different costumes you could switch between, and, you know, he's cool, too.

It could be worse, I suppose. They could have thrown in She-Hulk.

Those are all the crappy choices. Here are the characters that should have been in the game instead:

The remaining four original X-Men besides Iceman -- Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, and the Angel. Okay, maybe you could have left out Angel, but the other three should have been there. And, as far as that goes, flyers come in very handy in this game, so, yeah, stick the Angel in there, too, and make the X-Men team advantage that you can have FIVE characters active at the same time instead of four.

Hawkeye -- are you kidding me? A game like this and you DON'T have a gimmicky super archer? Are you KIDDING me? Hawkeye would so totally rule in this kind of game. And one of his variant costumes should let him be Goliath, too.

Hank Pym. His four different costumes (assuming we don't want him to be Ant-Man, as he'll be too small to be easily seen on the screen) should be red and blue Giant-Man (with size change powers), blue and gold Goliath (no size change powers), Yellowjacket (limited size change powers), and Dr. Pym (no size change powers, but the party has no inventory limit when he's in it, either). I cannot tell you how much ass this game would kick if you could run a Pym giant in it; it is a shame and a crime that you cannot. It is a Federal crime that should have a very serious mandatory minimum sentence that Hank is just an affable idiot of a recurring NPC in this game.

The Wasp. First, she has endless potential costumes to choose from, and second, she's much MUCH cooler than any other Marvel superheroine except maybe Sue Storm. Okay, she's small and would be hard to see on the screen but fuck all that, I want the Wasp. NOW.

Namor. They relegated Namor to hostage, plot device, and crabby, ungrateful rescuee. Oh PLEASE. And if we get Namor as a playable character, we also need:

The Hulk. And then, we can have the real Defenders (Doc Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor, and the Hulk). That would rock.

Valkyrie and Hellcat. Hey, they're just as cool as Ms. Marvel or Spider-Woman.

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Both of these characters would be AWESOME in this game.

The Vision. Yes. Now. We so badly need someone who can walk through walls in this game.

Yeah, I realize that the X-Box 360 and probably some other platform will allow you to play a version of this game where you can have Hawkeye, Cyclops, the Hulk, and Nightcrawler, and for the last month I've been wild to get an X-Box 360 so I could play those characters. But, while the costumes and the character choice weren't enough to fully sour me on the game, now we're getting into the stuff that is:

Save spots. I mean, seriously, what the fuck? Why do I have to fight through obstacle after obstacle before I can save my game? That's idiotic. I have kids who have bedtimes and who occasionally want to play GUITAR HERO on the Wii; I have a work schedule, I have a wife who occasionally would like me to spend time with her. I can't sit on the couch playing a goddam video game for an hour at a fricking time because I haven't found a goddam save point yet. This game needs to be saveable at any fucking point in it. You want to make me wait for a specific spot to come up to change out my team roster or my costumes or my equipment or upgrade my stats, fine, but I need to be able to save this game when I want to save this game. Save spots are a huge fucking pain in the ass. In and of themselves, they are very nearly enough to keep me from ever picking up this game again.

And now we come to the last, final straw; the tipping point that makes it extremely unlikely I will play this game much or at all in the future -- goddam invincible unkillable opponents that I have to go through some stupid goddam complicated idiotic process in order to defeat -- OVER and OVER again.

I hate this. And this game is crammed to the gunwales with this crap. You can't just go in and beat the holy fuck out of everything that gets in your way, which is what a sensible Marvel Comics hero does, issue after issue after issue. No, in this game, the goddam Mandarin (and goddam Loki, BOTH of them) keep teleporting away from you, and you have to figure out how to do something unbelievably fucking retarded in order to beat them. Same thing for boss villain after boss villain after boss villain.

The most common gimmick is, they're simply flat out invulnerable to your powers until you do something to remove that invulnerability, said something which usually involves running all over the goddam map and collecting up items and then hitting specific sequences of buttons and making specific hand gestures and if you don't do it all correctly the first time, you DIE, and since you can't save this game whenever you'd like to save it, this means you usually lose several hours worth of progress and have to start all over again at the start of the level, and it's AGGRAVATING.

But mostly it's aggravating because so many of these complicated processes whereby you get rid of a boss villain's invulnerability, or you just defeat a particular menace, have to be done OVER and OVER again. So even if you DO do everything correctly the first time, it's not enough; now you just have to go through the whole sequence all over again, usually not just once, but THREE MORE TIMES.

You can't just figure it out and go through the whole complicated procedure once; noooooooooooo. If you want to beat the big ass Kraken in Atlantis, first you have to figure out how to make it smash the pillar you're standing next to so that said pillar topples over onto the Kraken's head, and then you have to REPEAT THAT COMPLEX SERIES OF MANEUVERS THREE MORE TIMES.

Similar restrictions obtain on beating any number of other monsters or villains. To kill Ymir, you have to beat hell out of a Frost Giant, then take its spear, then run up Ymir's giant spear and jump onto Ymir's shoulder and ram the spear you stole into Ymir's neck and shake it -- not once, but FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES. To beat Mandarin, you have to figure out how to lure an exploding spider onto a working teleport pad at exactly the right time, jump onto the pad and teleport into his hidden chamber, then pound the crap out of him -- FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES. To beat Mephisto, you have to grab his sword and take it away from him FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES. You have to go through some complicated stupid-ass procedure FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES to beat Gladiator, to beat Galactus, to finally defeat Loki, and there are probably more occasions during the game I can't remember right now where you have to (a) figure out something convoluted and (b) repeat that convoluted process FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES that I can't remember right now.

But it's all incredibly fucking tedious, and having read ahead about the game at http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/932591/45517, and having realized that there's just more and more and more of this bullshit remaining to me, well... I'm just tired of this nonsense, and I don't wanna do it no mo'.

They tried to make me do this kind of bullshit at the end of the first KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC, where you have to go in and fight Darth Malek and beat him down to a third of his life total something like 12 different times (because he keeps running over to a captive, comatose Jedi and recharging himself every time you do) before you finally beat him, and I did it once (I used grenades on his ass because frankly, his routine was just fucking tiring me out) the first time I played and since then I have never bothered doing it again, because it's repetitive and boring and exasperating and none of that is fun for me. (It must be fun for someone, as game designers seem to keep putting shit like this into a lot of different games, but I sure as hell don't like it much.)

Having read ahead in the file I linked to, above, it makes me a little sad that I won't finish this game, because apparently there is a pretty cool ending cut-scene sequence you get to watch when you do. But, honestly, I just don't have the patience to wade through all the necessary nonsense to get there.

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