Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (XB)
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Distributor: VU Games
Release Date: 8/23/05
The Hulk is easily one of Marvel’s most popular and recognizable superheroes, and has seen a fairly good number of video game translations come along for most major game systems. However, none of these have been all that impressive, the most recent of which being The Hulk based on the 2003 film of the same name.
The Hulk was a solid game, but was hurt due to its Bruce Banner sequences and somewhat limited game play. However, Radical Entertainment, who also developed The Hulk, has gone back and redesigned the game engine and created an entirely different game experience with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.
Taking its cue from games such as Spider-Man 2 and Grand Theft Auto, The Incredible Hulk allows you to roam an entire city and smash anything in sight. Toss in a solid storyline and plenty of side missions, and you’ve got quite an entertaining game on your hands. But did Radical manage to surpass its previous efforts? Let’s take a look…
You play as Doctor Bruce Banner, otherwise known as his alter ego, The Hulk. Dr. Banner has been spending his time in the badlands recently working on researching a cure for his condition. However, the military has other ideas, and destroys Banner’s makeshift home, including the device that Banner was working on to hopefully help stop his transformations into The Hulk.
With his equipment destroyed and nowhere to go, Banner turns to his friend Doctor Sampson. Sampson has found a way to both artificially summon and control The Hulk, helping to focus The Hulks rage in a more useful way.
From this point, your goal is to find out what the military wants with you while attempting to rebuild the machine that you were working on before the military decided to rain on your parade.
There are a lot more twists and turns involved in the story, and plenty of interesting side characters and famous Hulk villains will show up, but I don’t want to ruin some of the surprises. However, suffice it to say that the story is satisfactory, and gives you plenty of reason to wander around the city smashing everything in sight. And it contains plenty of nods to the comics for any fan.
Story Rating: 6/10
The Incredible Hulk’s graphics are certainly not the best that the X-Box can produce, but the sheer number of objects on the screen at any one time is very impressive. At any given time you can expect to see plenty of buildings, cars, tanks, police officers, soldiers, and explosions simultaneously.
The models for the main characters, or more specifically The Hulk, are all quite well done with plenty of detail and high poly counts. However, everything else is made up of much smaller poly counts and lower quality textures. For the most part, these aren’t overly noticeable, and when the action gets intense the quality of the graphics are the last thing you’ll be paying attention to.
And speaking of action, there are plenty of effects that will be flying around as you smash your way through each mission. From the blasts of a tank’s cannon to the shockwave produced when The Hulk smashes the ground, there is a ton of information hitting the screen at any given time. And all of it looks really good.
The only real strike against the game’s graphics is the repetition of several character models and buildings. For the most part you only play in the Badlands or the same city, so areas become stagnant after a while. Fortunately there is enough variety with the missions, enemies, and bosses to keep things interesting.
Due to the high amount of information on screen at times, the game occasionally experiences a bit of slowdown. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s noticeable.
Overall, it’s similar to what you see when you play Spider-Man 2 or Grand Theft Auto… the individual characters and buildings don’t have the highest poly counts or the best textures, but when you start to see everything on screen at the same time, it all looks fantastic.
Graphics Rating: 8/10
The sound is definitely a highlight of the game, and really helps to add to the overall experience.
For starters, the sound effects will come blasting out of your speakers while you’re running around destroying things as The Hulk. If you’ve got a full surround sound system, be prepared to crank up the subwoofer and feel the house shake. Every explosion, car crash, and round of fire sounds fantastic.
In addition, the orchestral score for the game is very good. It stays pretty soft when you are just wandering around, but whenever the action revs up, the score will dramatically sweep in and add to the mayhem on screen.
Finally, the voice acting is about as top notch as you could ask for, with veteran actors Neal McDonough and Ron Perlman bringing their talents to the table. The rest of the voice cast is also superb and really bring the characters in the game to life. Occasionally the writing will make you raise your eyebrows or roll your eyes, but I can’t make any complaints about the actual voice acting.
Of all the aspects of the game, the sound is really the only area that I can’t find any fault with. The effects, music, and voice acting all come together to really bring the game to life. And if you happen to have a really nice sound system, you are in for a real treat.
Sound Rating: 10/10
4. CONTROL AND GAMEPLAY
Ok, so the story is solid, the graphics are excellent, and the sound is fantastic. But how well does the game play?
The controls themselves are pretty basic… you’ve got the analog sticks for moving and camera control, and the buttons for jumping, attacking, and stringing together various combos. Everything responds well and the only real issue with the controls is occasional problems with the camera, which every now and then will be in the completely wrong place for what you are doing. Fortunately this doesn’t happen to often, and more times than not it is easy enough to correct with a quick flick of the analog stick.
The gameplay itself is focused entirely around The Hulk’s willingness to destroy anything and everything in his path, from cars and trucks to tanks and helicopters. Starting off the game, you’ll be given a brief tutorial on how to play, from basic movement to jumping large distances, attacking enemies up close, picking up and throwing objects, climbing buildings, and running up walls. The sheer number of moves is almost staggering at first, and it only gets better from there.
As you play you’ll earn points that can be used to purchase new moves and abilities. Most of these are reasonably priced, and it won’t be long before you are adding tons of damage dealing combos to your repertoire.
Most of the missions in the game involve inflicting damage on the various military units you will encounter. However, it’s not all about smashing things… occasionally you’ll need to protect buildings, retrieve objects, and make it between certain points within an allotted time limit. There’s even a stealth type mission or two, although with a few new twists.
Your main base of operations is an abandoned church in the middle of nowhere. From here you can use various jump points to leap to the city or the Badlands depending on what mission you are on. Between story missions you also have the opportunity to roam around causing destruction and running optional missions that can gain your more points to purchase more abilities. But be careful, for as with Grand Theft Auto, the more you run around causing damage, the more attention you’ll bring to yourself, until next thing you know you’ve got half the U.S. military on your tail complete with heavily armored tanks and attack helicopters.
In each area are also comic books that you can collect, and as you do you will unlock cheat codes that can be used from the main menu to affect the gameplay. These range from something as simple as having a Maple Leaf on your shorts for you Canadians out there, to turning all the cars on the streets into taxis. Other unlockables include comic book covers, videos, and various other goodies.
Unfortunately the gameplay starts to become repetitious after a while, even with the large number of moves you can perform. Although the bosses certainly help to break up the monotony, and in many cases you’ll be hard pressed to figure out exactly how to beat them.
When you break it all down, The Incredible Hulk is a fun game to play with solid controls and tons of things to smash. The gameplay does get pretty repetitive after a while, but there is enough variety in the missions and boss fights to keep things interesting as you progress.
Control and Gameplay Score: 8/10
As mentioned above, there are quite a few comic books that you can collect as you play the game. However, with a bit of luck and plenty of poking around you should be able to find most, if not all, of these during your first play through. Also, the number of points that you need to unlock all the moves, galleries, and other items can be gained with a single play through if you take some time between the main story missions to run the optional missions.
Speaking of the main story, if you stick to the missions and try to plow through as quickly as possible, it will only take you eight or so hours to complete the game, and that’s including watching all the cut scenes and listening to all the dialogue. Subsequent play throughs may take even less time once you know what you need to do in each mission and where all the jump points and such can be found.
The game itself is a blast to play, but unfortunately it doesn’t lend itself to multiple play throughs, even with the comic books to collect and a number of different difficulty levels to try. Most should be able to find everything that there is to unlock after only one or two runs. Still, it’s a great game to just sit down and play for a half hour or so after a bad day at work.
Replayability Score: 4/10
The Incredible Hulk is a perfect example of a game where the difficulty ranges from pretty easy to insanely difficult, especially when you are talking about the various boss fights.
For the most part, the standard story missions aren’t that difficult, with a few exceptions. Especially once you start filling out your combo list and get a few moves that are incredibly devastating to use. Every now and then though, you’ll run into a mission that will take you an incredibly long time to beat until you figure out the trick. One of the early missions that drove me nuts for a while involved defending a building from wave after wave of tanks. But once I reviewed the move list and determined the best way to do more damage, it didn’t take long at all to beat them.
Bosses, on the other hand, can be insanely difficult. The final boss of the game is almost nightmarishly hard. Although they all have specific patterns and are vulnerable to certain tactics. However, figuring these out can sometimes take a while.
On the whole, the game is balanced pretty well, with the normal missions becoming increasingly difficult and the boss fights taking some real effort to get past. And at higher difficulty levels, even the most experienced gamer should be in for a real challenge.
Balance Score: 7/10
As mentioned earlier, The Incredible Hulk was made by the same developers as the 2003 game The Hulk. However, this game is far from being a sequel. Where The Hulk was based on the movie, The Incredible Hulk is based more on the comic books and contains many elements that long time readers will be familiar with, including a number of cameo appearances and some popular Hulk villains.
The game itself does suffer in some areas of originality. Comparisons to Spider-Man 2 are practically inevitable with the free ranging aspects and side missions that you can participate in. And super hero games these days do seem to be a dime a dozen, with every major character from Batman to the X-Men making appearances in video games.
Additionally, the action presented in The Incredible Hulk is not anything necessarily new, although the number of moves and the ability to interact with and destroy almost any object you come across has rarely been done with this level of attention to detail. In the end, it’s not the most original game in the world, but it does manage to successfully put together many elements that help it to stand out from its contemporaries.
Originality Score: 6/10
Make no mistake about it, this game is a blast to play. Especially for fans of the comic book who have always wished they could wander around cities destroying anything they come across. The graphics, sound, and gameplay all come together to make a solid game that will keep you entertained for hours.
The only area that keeps the addictiveness a little bit lower than it could be is with the games repetitiveness. Playing through the same two levels and seeing the same buildings, cars, and soldiers over and over again can get a bit boring. However, with plenty of moves to play with and some unique bosses to fight, there should be enough to keep you interested for a good while.
9. APPEAL FACTOR
Obviously the first people that will be interested in this game are fans of the comic book. And I have to say that I don’t think they will be disappointed. Also, anyone who enjoyed The Hulk will find that a lot of their complaints about that game have been answered here, and should find this offering much more enjoyable.
Comic book fans and action fans in general should find plenty to enjoy here, especially if you’ve enjoyed offerings like Spider-Man 2. The free roaming aspect of the game should also appeal to those who like the Grand Theft Auto series, although they will have to do without the foul language and buckets of blood.
On the whole, this game should appeal to a wide variety of gamers, and most should find that it is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
Appeal Factor Score: 7/10
There are plenty of reasons to like The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The free-roaming environment, the mass amounts of destruction, the impressive move set, the solid storyline, and the fantastic sound. And to top it all off, the extra material is quite good.
The videos are all interesting, and include numerous “Making Of” type documentaries that all run for a decent amount of time. These cover the sound, production, development, and other aspects of the game. These also contain plenty of interviews with members of the voice cast, artists, coders, and other members of the development team. It’s a great way to get a look at some of what goes into making a video game, and these are much better than many of the “Making Of” videos found in other games.
Overall, The Incredible Hulk is a game well worth playing. Unfortunately it gets a bit repetitive and is lacking somewhat in the area of replayability, which lends it more to a weekend rental than a purchase. On the other hand you could do much worse.
Miscellaneous Score: 8/10
Appeal Factor: 7
Final Score: 7.0 (Good)