20 September 2005

Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

In January I did a post entitled Top 3 Comic Book-Themed Video Games. As the title implies, I listed my top 3 comic book-themed video games. Some ground rules for judging were set and my #1 game was Spider-Man (1983) for the Atari 2600.

hulkhEight months have passed since then, and the time has come to declare a new #1. I didn't hear about this game until about a week before its release, and as a result, it was a welcome surprise that now sits atop my list.

The first time you hear, "Angry man is on the loose!" from the puny little soldiers, the hair on your arms will stand up. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (HUD) is the best comic book-themed video game ever!

If you're looking for a traditional review of this game go somewhere else. Reviews for HUD are a dime a dozen. Heck the game came with its own review! HUD shipped with the score of "8.9 out of 10" from Official X-Box Magazine printed on the cover.

To me, the game is absolutely about the vibe you get from playing. You see, there are no innovations in HUD. No ground breaking graphics. No answer for the standard camera problems 3rd person games have. HUD is a good-looking, well-produced hybrid of Grand Theft Auto and Spider-Man 2. Sierra, the developers of HUD, pilfered the best aspects of both games and condensed them to create an extremely pleasurable gaming experience.

From here on out, there will be no mumbo-jumbo technical nonsense. My personal favorite being frame rate comparisons from the different consoles. You can find that information anywhere. The very best thing about HUD is its feel, its vibe. After 10 minutes of game play, the endorphins will be flowing, and it will feel good to be the jolly green giant.

hulk12In fact, I suggest you don't even read the rest of this review. Not that I'm including any spoilers or the like. I just don't want to rob you of the awesome experience of picking up this game cold like I did. You shouldn't have any preconceived notions other than, you are The Hulk! If you like the idea of being a virtual goliath and doing just about anything you can imagine, I have a suggestion. Go out and get this game. Discovering the capabilities of this virtual Hulk is a great experience. If you read on, you'll spoil some of that fun.

Consider yourself warned.

The rest of this review will highlight some points that make HUD my new #1 video game in the comicsverse. There is a saying that goes, "It's the little things that count." Well HUD perfectly nails the little things, and makes the big things even better.

Here are a few examples of the "little things" I'm impressed with:

  • During gameplay by simply running through the environment, Hulk can do some serious damage like wreck cars, bring down light poles, and damage the sides of buildings etc. While walking though, Hulk does not damage the environment. Seems like a small detail, but it's thoughtful on the part of the designers.
  • This next example is an extension of the environment interaction in HUD. While running, Hulk likes to nudge objects as he passes them. If he is not directly running into something, at times he sticks out his elbow and gives a glancing blow to objects just outside of his path. So if you're running alongside a bus and get close enough, he'll give it some elbow loving. Sometimes the bus will flip over, sometimes it gets pushed aside. The damage all depends on the speed and angle you hit it at.

hulk15

  • This last "little thing" has to do with how Hulk interacts with humans. If you grapple a soldier you have three options. 1) Punch his lights out with a melee attack. 2) Throw him as far as the eye can see. (I especially like throwing them at other soldiers.) 3) Or, drive him into the ground (accompanied by a cool animation). If you grapple a civilian though, your options are slightly different. 1) Hulk will hold the person with one hand, and with the other flick them away like an insect. The first time you see this you won't believe it. 2) You can still throw citizens really, really far. 3) You can simply put the person back down without harming them. Then Hulk will squat down to their eye level and pat them on the head. What a gentle giant! It's hilarious the first time you see this happen, and it hasn't gotten old yet.

These "little things" may not seem all that important, but they are. It's the culmination of these factors that create a game atmosphere unmatched in a comicsverse video game.

As for the big things... Well, how about Paul Jenkins for starters? He is the author of the story that drives HUD. Easily he is one of the best storytellers in the comic book business. Check out his now cancelled run on Spectacular Spider-Man. He consistently put together some really solid work.

As the title implies, there is destruction. Cars blow up, civilians run in fear, soldiers attack, tanks are deployed and Hulk becomes angry. These are common occurrences, but there are plenty of surprises in store for players. Lets just say in the game there are Hulk Busters (Hulk size mech suits built by the military to combat Hulk), and then there are HULK BUSTERS. You'll find yourself in the middle of some fierce battles that do not disappoint.

1The WOW factor as explained in my ground rules is off the chart for HUD. This game has a large of amount of buzz and deservedly so. I can't image anyone not liking this game. What is there not to like, you're the Hulk! Easily one of the most powerful characters in the comicverse. Let me add that I'm no fan of Hulk. I've never been interested in him before as a solo character. Most of my experience with the Hulk has been through the Avengers or guest appearances in other books.

There really isn't anything more to say other than, "Hulk smash competition!"

The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction gets 5 outta 5 Gamma Bombs.

4 comments:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Just added this to my Amazon wish list! Have you played X-Men Legends yet? I picked it up a couple of weeks ago - Platinum Edition! - but haven't had a chance to play it yet.

Dan Diaz said...

X-Men Legengds is awesome. We can beat the game together if you like. I'm close to the end. It's taken close to a year of sporadic game play to get that far. Legends 2 came out yesterday. It's suppose to be even better with online play.

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