What Marvel's Avengers Could Learn From Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – Screen Rant

Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends have several unique mechanics that could be beneficial in future Marvel titles to expand their gameplay.
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The release of Marvel’s Avengers has managed to fill a void while also highlighting an unfortunate gap in the release of modern superhero co-op games like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends. Marvel’s Avengers brought its comic book-inspired story to life under the development of Crystal Dynamics, bringing the popular characters of Marvel Comics to a third-person squad-based action game. While the genre lends itself to a particular style of action, there is a notable absence of the team dynamic made famous by the titular heroes.
The first assembling of the Avengers in the MCU saw the heroes combining their techniques and tactics to fend off an otherworldly invasion, showcasing the camaraderie and synergy of the six heroes. This is a dynamic that would persist throughout the MCU and in the four following Avengers movies especially. However, video game fans would have to go back to previous Marvel-based video games to see anything resembling a team-based system.
Related: Best Video Games Featuring The Avengers
Raven Software had previously developed a series of games from 2004 through 2006 based on Marvel’s properties. The first set of games focused exclusively on the X-Men in a series known as X-Men Legends in 2004. 2005 saw the release of a sequel before Raven Software shifted focus to the grander Marvel Universe with Marvel Ultimate Alliance in 2006, which was followed by two sequels developed by Vicarious Visions in 2009 and Team Ninja in 2019. Despite the different developers and settings for each title, they retained a top-down, co-op RPG gameplay system that emphasized the teamwork of each playable character as much as their individual attributes, a factor that Marvel games have tended to be sorely lacking.
The first three Raven Software Marvel games shared a form of combination attack systems. If two heroes used powers or abilities on the same target, the game would give the combined attack a special name while bestowing the player with a damage bonus for their use of teamwork. This gave players an incentive to use different teams of heroes in an effort to maximize the damage gained during encounters. Team Ninja’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 uses a similar system, prompting the player when a hero performs an ability that can be synergized with one of their own. MUA2, however, took the combinations a step further by dedicating a full system toward the team-based assaults.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 included a system known as Fusion attacks where two heroes can combine their abilities to create a larger technique meant to either clear a room, target an area for big damage, or command a more controlled sweep. The three different types of Fusion techniques give an added layer of depth in decision-making from team synergy to combat utility in regards to which heroes perform which kind of Fusion attack. Beyond the gameplay factor, the attacks serve to display the particular style of each hero accurately as the Fusion techniques are appropriately performed differently based on the heroes involved. While Marvel’s Avengers added a special team attack for Iron Man and Captain America in a post-launch update, the title is mostly devoid of meaningful team interactions in combat.
Games based on the worlds created by Marvel Comics have veered away from these special team attacks as a whole, creating a strange void in the genre of comic-based video games. The comic book world has seen countless teams, alliances, and unions over the decades, yet it is rare to see the video games give that legacy proper representation, particularly within the Marvel Universe. Marvel’s Avengers has taken its first step by introducing its first team move, but unless superhero games take the opportunity to allow their teams to showcase their full synergy across their wide rosters like in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance or X-Men Legends, there’s less incentive for the Avengers to ever assemble.
Next: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Review
Lawrence Maldonado is a writer, editor, and lifelong video game nerd born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He has edited an eBook for a voice actor in video games while also having done work as a Community Editor for a video game company. On the side, he would write articles and blogs about video games and the industry in general, leading him to cover games on Screen Rant as a freelance writer. Currently, he can be found wandering the realm of Eorzea while venturing to be the very best like no one ever was. His favorite video game of all time? The answer changes almost daily.


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