Much time has passed since the predecessor to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, ten years, to be precise. But here we are, regardless, facing a brand-new adventure, later down the line. But instead, under vastly different circumstances.
Here’s the truth. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is, ultimately, a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Not, some multi-platform release from a high-profile publisher in Activision, as it was all those years ago. Plus, Vicarious Visions no longer steers the ship as they did back then. Meaning, for better or worse, players can expect some radical changes.
Thankfully though, this superhero project is spearheaded by more than capable hands, in Team Ninja. Besides, if a developer’s track record is a measure of quality, then look no further. What with having worked on the critical acclaimed Nioh and Ninja Gaiden, it’s safe to say they more than merit the position.
But still, these changes, at least from a developmental side of things, are sure to have an impact on outcome and performance. At least to some quantifiable degree. And if they do, they do so in an overall positive vein, everything considered. But there are some caveats. Worse still, you’ll have to endure the rough with the smooth through Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
But before we venture into bold new territory with broader analysis, let’s delve under the hood, switch the flashlight on, and explore the crux of the experience. Welcome, to the world of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. With my extravagant, yet anticlimactic intro, a thing of the past, though beautiful as it was (Huge sigh of relief). It’s time we hit the nitty-gritty. Heroes at the ready, Let the battle commence.
In truth, the formula to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 will be all-to-familiar with fans of the franchise. Use an array of attacks, some more powerful than others, to take down hordes of enemies, with the option to wipe out entire armies with devastating Ultimate attacks, via a squad of four.
Much like previous entries, all four party members remain on screen, giving a decent portrayal to scale and scope to each dust-up. Similar in style to Diablo, in many respects; with the main draw-factor being combat. There are two camera options, one of which gives a broader picture of events. While the other, an all-new close-up perspective, looks more cinematic but can create the illusion of clutter, and chaos.
All in all, the combat in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is satisfying enough, and let’s face it; it needs to be for a game of its genre. You get a sense that your attacks are penetrating the opponent. What with the subtle yet effective audio cues following each move — also, there are those numbers, which vibrantly pop-up on the screen. Each of which signifies the extent of the damage. All the while, doing an adequate job of creating the illusion of empowerment, even if it’s short-lived.
The cell-shaded style of graphics of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 work wonders, creating a fun and playful spin on comic book canon. Despite these impressive feats with regards to visual aspects though, the game falls short on occasion, when it comes to gameplay.
For instance, a distinct lack of enemy variety soon starts to wear away at the soul. Besides, who wants to repel wave after wave of many a carbon-copied foe. And naturally, after a while, it begins to grate. If it weren’t for extensive upgrade opportunities and fighting fluidity, this flaw would be much more visible. As it stands, the game gets by.
Sadly though, this scale of monotony in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 infects boss battles too. By design, and from a visual standpoint, the bosses look great. But significant spikes in difficulty plague the experience. I mean, it’s clear that Team Ninja value a sense of challenge, and that’s a good thing.
However, when the toughness is amplified to such a degree, that it forces you to grind away to the bone, for hours on end, it can detract handsomely from the overall experience. But the series is no stranger to this form of backpedaling. So, honestly, the grind wall in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is somewhat in keeping with tradition.
Also, the bosses, irrespective of the difficulty level, (of which, there are two) have plenty of health. To cut a long story short, each boss can inflict mass damage with one fell swoop and can act as bullet sponges at times. In turn, this creates lengthy, drawn-out exchanges, which feel more tedious than they should.
That said, you must credit Team Ninja for sticking to their guns with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and issuing ample challenge at every turn. But there’s no excuse for the sporadic A.I behavior of your team which inevitably hangs you out to dry.
Although the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired, and the dialogue is offputtingly hollow, the games saving grace comes via its characters. Or rather, amount thereof. There are 30 playable heroes in total. Each of which mimics the original mold with regards to aesthetics. In truth, it would have been nice to see a modernized wardrobe In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Or, one more in line with current trends and present-day depictions. But you can’t have it all.
Once the story is done and dusted; a somewhat predictable and uninspired take on the Infinity Stones lore. In what rapidly becomes a race against time, to salvage the stones before The Black Order, you can play through the game on hard mode. Which must be said, is purely for veterans only. Alternatively, you may wish to partake in a series of robust trials. All of which provide a stern test and force you to become an overnight stat buff.
All in all, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a fun and enjoyable ride to the casual, easily pleased observer. And there are some things it does exceptionally well. But peer under the surface, and you’ll find a polished facade. And one which masks the repetitive nature of the gameplay and a distinct lack of inventiveness concerning story. For fans of Marvel though, I’m sure this will more than satiate the appetite.
What are your overall impressions of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3? Did it deliver or disappoint? As always, we welcome any contributions. So please, chip in via the chat below.