Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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VIDEO GAME REVIEWS
by Glenn Given

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2/XBOX/GC)

Vivendi Universal Games. Rated T.

***

Marvel Comics franchise games are frequently cringe-inducing affairs. Not that they are all bad by necessity; this past year alone produced two absolutely stellar Marvel titles (the free-roaming Spiderman 2 and the multi-player RPG/Brawler X-MEN Legends). Sometimes, though, Marvel seems to have it in for their own product line; witness Fantastic Four or The Punisher’s movie tie-in games.

As a matter of fact The Hulk film tie-in game was particularly atrocious. So much so that when I play The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction I am tempted to knock a half-star off the rating simply for its association with one of the most poorly developed adventures games of my life. (I’m not that jaded, though, so the *** above is the accurate rating).

Thankfully in this case Marvel seemed to learn from its former atrocities. Gone is the “play as Bruce Banner” B.S. that plagued the prior Hulk foray and present is the “run rampant and throw cars at helicopters” mayhem.

Imagine Grand Theft Auto (minus the hookers and street racing) but with about 300 times as much gamma-radiation-borne super strength, a little less virtual drug-running and a lot more running up the side of buildings and dropping the atomic elbow on tanks. Then pick up the tank, use it as a shield, rip off the turret and bat missiles back at the 60-foot robot that the Army set against you in an ill-conceived attempt to stop your personal Sherman’s march across the digital city. Why won’t they leave Hulk alone?!?

Hulk Smash!

And it’s fun. The Hulk is quick and responsive, you move like an acrobat and the accessible control interface allows for a remarkably easy time battling foes from every direction. You’re free to roam the desert and city completing story-based missions (blah blah something about not being so angry and green), earning new combat maneuvers (like making boxing gloves out of cars) by attempting various skill challenges and racking up “smash points” by, you guessed it, smashing the bejeezus out of stuff.

Ultimate Destruction is strikingly similar to Spiderman 2 (which is a favorable association for certain) in its concept and execution to a fault. However much fun  picking up soldiers and throwing them at tanks may be, the ground is well-treaded. In the end Ultimate Destruction begins to wear you down with it’s “Space Invader in 4-D” style of relentless pursuit and you find yourself wishing for a bit more story. Surprisingly, that story is somewhere in the game but you’re likely to have ignored it in favor of rampant rampaging until you grow bored with the game, never to find out the fate of Dr. Banner. (Psst! I seriously doubt that at the end of the game Banner is cured of his Gamma-induced curse). Smash, rinse repeat.