Category Archives: ultimate alliance

Taking Inventory

With the addition of the PlayStation 2, I felt it was time to take inventory of exactly how far down the rabbit hole The Non-Gamer has fallen since this started. The first problems were that Ray also gave me PS2 games with the PS2, then I bought a few myself. Damn you, GameStop, for liquidating your PS2 games at buy-two-get-one-free.

Of course I started this blog after the purchase of a PS3. So far we haven’t purchased many PS3 games actually. I got one of the Ultimate Alliances because I really wanted to play it. I bought DC Universe Online as soon as I learned it was going to be free to play. The Bride bought Disney Universe and Sing It, and then there are all those games Ray lent us. There have been a few other games, but for the most part we have been downloading them.

The PlayStation Network provides an amazing, ever-changing selection of demos and trial versions of games. At last count, we had over eighty games in our system, including at least a dozen we have purchased. Pain is one of my favorites to this day. Whenever I open the PlayStation Network, I will end up playing it for at least a little while, good for a bit of stress relief.

Now even though I call myself The Non-Gamer, and this blog started with the purchase of the PlayStation 3, I do own other game systems. As I’ve mentioned I bought an Atari 2600 back in the 1980s. We have almost two of the old Atari game shelves full of the little cartridges

Once we got married, one of the big deal buys we made was an old Nintendo Entertainment System along with all the bells and whistles, not to mention about thirty different games. While I love stuff like the Mario games, there is always the problem of “turn waiting.”

We also have a Super Nintendo as well, but only two games for that, Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla. Yeah, it was a Christmas gift, and was feeding two of my peculiar obsessions. It did not get much play as no instructions came with the game system, or either of the two games.

I haven’t even thought of the dozens of games on iPhone if they count.

Wow, I guess I’m not much of a Non-Gamer after all. Now, can someone please tell me how to turn off the PlayStation 2?

Ultimate Alliance 2 by Two

The last time I tried to play either one of the two Marvel Ultimate Alliance games I became frustrated quickly and gave up on them. This time, I did it the right way. I brought help.

Jeff was hanging out and staying over the weekend, so we were talking comics and gaming as per usual, and the conversation turned to the PS3. After hear about the free subscription thing in October for DC Universe Online, I had purchased it and was hoping Jeff -in his formidable gaming experience- could help me set it up. It took forever to install, and then update, and then update again. And I think I signed away my home in the terms agreements.

Anyway, I gave up on it after a while, I guess I just don’t have the patience for videogames. As we were in the mood though, we turned to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. The second one was chosen over the first version as there were more characters to choose from, or at least that’s what the voice of experience said.

Jeff knew the game backwards and forwards. He had apparently beaten it while we were on vacation a month or two back, both Ultimate Alliances, that is, yeah, both. But, on the positive side, having someone familiar with the game, who knows what’s coming, knows all the tricks – and most of all, knows how the controller works, is a good thing for an extreme novice like me. We moved pretty quickly through quite a few levels, and I actually got to see some of the story unfold, which made me like the game even more.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is based in part, at least early on, on writer Brian Michael Bendis’ Secret War mini-series from Marvel Comics. These events in the comics led indirectly to Civil War, and in this game they do as well. There’s enough story presented in the game to get the point, but much like a Stephen King movie, having read the book helps a lot in fleshing out what’s really going on. And for the hardcore fanboys out there, just to avoid confusion, the game also avoids the Secret Invasion storyline.

Regarding Civil War, long story short (and you can follow this link if you want the whole enchilada from Wikipedia), as shown in the game, some irresponsible superheroes in a live reality TV show, inadvertently destroy Stamford, Connecticut. Legislation quickly flies through Congress to have all superheroes registered with the government, as weapons if you will, that must be trained and monitored. The superhero community quickly divides along the lines of pro-registration and anti-registration, with Iron Man leading the former, and Captain America the former.

These lines are mirrored in the game, as once you pass a certain point in the story, you must choose whether you are for or against registration. And from that point on, you may only use the heroes who are on the side you’ve chosen. It’s an intriguing obstacle, and also lends to having two possible storylines and endings to the game. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I like it.

As Jeff promised, there are lots of characters to choose from. The ones I had the most fun with, or in other words, the ones that I figured out how to control and do what I wanted, were The Thing, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man. I did try out a few others too. Iron Fist was kinda cool, and Deadpool was lots of fun. It took some time to figure out Mister Fantastic and Deadpool as they seemed to be a bit complicated to control – maybe that was just me. Iron Man and the Human Torch looked pretty cool too, but Jeff kept playing them, ahem.

The dialogue that goes on in the game as the characters are fighting opponents is a lot of fun, especially as one would expect, Deadpool. And the interaction in the inbetween scenes is good too. It’s very funny and surreal watching Reed Richards trying to talk sense to Deadpool – my absolute favorite part of the game.

I like Ultimate Alliance 2 a lot, and it verifies my thoughts that all gamer novices need a gaming mentor when they start to play. It really makes me wonder why so many PS3 games are only one player – they should all be two or more players. I really think there is merit to the mentor idea though, once I played for a few hours with Jeff, I was able to get farther later on by myself.

Sing It

I mentioned before that my first solo purchase for the PS3 was Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but I haven’t talked about The Bride’s. Whereas my obsessions run toward comics and monsters and the like, hers tend in other directions – Disney and singing just to name two. So it’s no wonder that her first purchase was Disney Sing It Family Hits.

This ‘game’ came with a microphone and from all indications was no more than a glorified karaoke machine – or at least it seemed like it turned the PS3 into one. But it’s more than that. Yes, it is essentially karaoke, with at least two dozen animated videos of songs direct from the Disney features along with sing-along lyrics onscreen.

That’s not all it is however. You also get warm ups and lessons and tips from Anika Noni Rose, Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, so you’ll be able to sing and enjoy these songs better. And there are other editions, including High School Musical and Pop Hits with more songs available, among others. Each edition also features singing lessons from other Disney singers.

It’s great fun for the family and kids of all ages, especially Disney fans. I know The Bride enjoyed/enjoys it.

Marvel, Big and Little

My first game purchase for the PlayStation 3 was via Amazon, and the choice was made because of what a big comic geek I am. I bought Marvel Ultimate Alliance at a pretty fair price. And I was thrilled when it arrived in the mail. I was going to get to play some superhero action on this here PS3 thing.

I first learned here something that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my PS3 experience. It’s complicated, and the controllers are nuts with buttons and choices. It came with a sizable instruction book, but I ignored it, as I wanted to play. I popped in the disc and was mesmerized by the graphics. Yar’s Revenge, this was not.

What the instruction manual doesn’t tell you is what the story actually is. This is a sore point for someone like me with a writer’s brain. It’s all about which buttons to push, etc. It doesn’t matter, I like the pretty colors, and hope that the introduction will give me something. It does. Nick Fury, the real one, not the Ultimate version or Samuel J. Jackson, shows up and apparently, we, the four player characters have to find him on the SHIELD Helicarrier which is under attack by what look like Ultrons.

The funny thing is, while Fury is not Ultimate, the player characters are – Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Thor. Interesting. You get to pick one, and the others are dragged along, until they die, or you switch out to one of them. It’s a lot of smash and guess until then. Wolverine and Thor seem the easiest to play, but in over an hour of play, I was never able to either clear the Helicarrier or find Fury. I will need help with this one. And I found the whole concept of collecting coins, like in Mario Bros., completely hilarious.

When I was tired of Ultimate Alliance I tried Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet. Despite the subtitle which refers to the Jim Starlin Thanos vs. the Marvel Universe comics, this is actually a simpler kids version of the Marvel heroes – based on the hysterical cartoon for kids of all ages, and the strange (strange because I can’t imagine the Punisher or Wolverine ever smiling) action figure line. I thought this would be a better choice. It’s cartoony vs. realistic graphics, but it still looked great.

While it has the fun voices and the wink-wink humor of the cartoon, the controller continues to irritate me, and it’s just not as easy as my buddy Ray has claimed. I seem to remember him saying this took him, like twenty minutes to finish. I think I spent twenty minutes trying to decipher the instructions.

The best part for me was not playing, and letting the characters on screen hold conversations. Come on now, you can’t tell me it’s not funny when Iron Man says to the Hulk, “You’re very green, you know that?” or when Hulk counters with “This ship ugly!” For that alone, this game rocks. I didn’t get far, but at least with this one, I kinda understood what was going on.