"3-D comic battles have something that 2-D just can’t touch. Hiding behinds walls and trucks, dodging and running to stay one step ahead. Cars explode, the pavement cracks, the walls crumble and anyone familiar with comics won’t be surprised. After all, when you’re dealing with bruisers like the Ever Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing or the Invincible Iron Man, property damage is a given."
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We comic fans do so love a good versus discussion. Though it’s not as frequent as it once was, you still can't go a day without seeing about ten pop up. Some of them are decent questions, like Wonder Woman vs. Thor (I’d give it to Thor), some of them are age-old debates, like Superman vs. The Hulk (Superman would take it, but not without plenty of lumps), and you always have the occasional idiot who argues that, despite everyone with common sense knowing Superman isn’t really made of metal, magnetism master Magneto could easily defeat him because he’s the ‘Man of Steel’. Oy vey.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is aimed at this crowd, my crowd, and it doesn’t completely miss. It’s just not a solid hit. Whiffed off to the side.
Instead of ripping off Marvel vs. Capcom like most people expected, EA did the smart thing and ripped off Power Stone instead. Free-roam fighting in big environments; the Daily Bugle’s roof, the Avenger’s Mansion, what’s left of the Brooklyn Bridge after an alien attack. You can throw rocks, mailboxes, even cars if you’re strong enough. Plenty of room to fly around or swing around or climb around, whichever applies.
Good move for EA; 3-D comic battles have something that 2-D just can’t touch. Hiding behinds walls and trucks, dodging and running to stay one step ahead. Cars explode, the pavement cracks, the walls crumble and anyone familiar with comics won’t be surprised. After all, when you’re dealing with bruisers like the Ever Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing or the Invincible Iron Man, property damage is a given.
Strength levels from the Marvel Directory.
The Thing possesses superhuman strength, enabling him to lift (press) 85 tons.
Magneto can use his magnetic powers to increase his physical strength up through Class 100 (the ability to lift over 100 tons).
Without his armor Tony Stark possesses the normal strength of a normal human man his age, height, and build who engages in moderate regular exercise. His armor magnifies Stark’s strength to superhuman levels, enabling him to lift (press) roughly 85 times.
See? With power like that getting thrown around, you’d better expect a rough fight. Magneto can toss a water tower like it was a water bottle, and the Thing doesn’t even need to hit you to hurt you; the shockwaves alone do damage. Nemesis is good because it’s faithful to each character’s abilities. Playing them works like you’d expect it to.
But it’s not unbalanced. You can pull off match-ups that would never work in comics; Wolverine can defeat Magneto, Spider-Man can bust up the Thing. It’s a simple matter of taking advantages and disadvantages into account.
Spider-Man may not have enough raw power to out-punch the Thing, but he’s a swinger, you see. And with his swinging ability, he can go higher and farther than the Thing's rocky arms can ever reach.
Swing above the big guys head, pegging him with web-balls and the occasional kick in the face, just like the real Spidey would. He'll go down.
Wolverine may not be able get close to Magneto without getting tossed across the room, but he doesn’t have to. He has a healing factor, gives him back energy over time.
Pick away at his energy, hit him when you can, go for the lucky strikes and you’ll wear him down eventually.
It lets comic fans geek out over dream matches, but it doesn’t forget that ‘game’ part of being a superhero videogame; the matches are still challenging. Now if it only had the common sense to make getting to them easy for you.
See, when the game starts, you’ll only be able to choose from two characters. In order to get the rest, you have to play through the game’s story mode. All of it. And story mode sucks. Hard.
The story itself is dumb and convoluted even as comic plots go, so I'll keep it short. A bunch of aliens attack New York, they somehow manage to take out the Punisher, Captain America, and the Hulk (which would so not ever happen), and they’re kinda/sorta/not really associated with this band of misfit villains EA created, called the Imperfects. The story mode has you going through different venues in New York, fighting the Imperfects, fighting other superheroes who’ve become mind-controlled by the Imperfects, fighting a dozen or so aliens in street-brawlish levels, and completing the occasional objective.
All they had to do was make some simple tournament play. Pick a character, fight ten or so guys, watch some cutscenes and I'd be happy. But nooooooo.
Take the street brawling levels, which have you fighting your way through a wave of aliens. Now, you’d think Magneto, who pimp slaps the X-Men on a daily basis and is the most feared villain this side of Dr. Doom, would be able to handle a few dinky aliens. Especially when said aliens are wearing metal armor. He isn’t. The aliens are cheap; they take a ridiculous amount of damage before they go down, and Magneto takes hits like a little girl. You’ll get shot from the back. You’ll be too close to a car explosion and get knocked out. You’ll throw a trashcan at an alien, only to have him catch it and slam it back in your face.
And those are just the ground foes; the little flying saucer enemies are annoying in worse ways. They dodge everything from afar, so punching them is the most viable option. It’s just not the easiest one, because they’re sort of flying and out of range for everything expect a jumping punch. So it takes a solid minute to down one of them...a problem, considering they almost always come in packs. They sneak attack, shoot you in the back, drain away your energy and surround you from all sides; a pain at best, a serious threat at worst.
After a while, the déjà vu sets in. The game only has so many levels, so you’ll be doing a lot of revisiting, a lot of going through the same arenas with different characters and similar, but still boring, objectives. Kill X amount on enemies in X amount of time. Work you way to this point while a bunch of mini-saucers hit you with cheap shots. The few times you actually get into a straight up fight, you’re fighting cheap opponents who peg you with cheap attacks, who have advantages like infinite power or regenerating health.
I’m all for being the underdog, it’s the stuff that good comics are made of. But damn, fighting an electrokinetic named Johnny Ohm (don’t get me started on his name) while he has unlimited access to a power generator is pushing it, just a bit. Even more so when you have to use the Thing’s slow ass.
I really wanted to love Marvel Nemesis. Really. I wanted a game that would let me create some of my favorite matches, see Spidey take on Venom, see Iron Man match up against Magneto, see Wolverine and Elektra slash each other up. And I got that. But I had to fight for it.
If you’re a comic fan, Marvel Nemesis might fit your incredible taste, at least for a rental. If you’re not a comic fan…well, you should be, but you might want to pass this up until you’ve made the leap. No use risking it.
One more thing: They made a comic based on this game. It somehow made the story even suckier. If you ever see it, do me a favor and burn it, please.
Staff review by Zack Little (February 07, 2006)
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