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GDC09: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 impressions

Kevin Kelly

Guha Bala, president and co-founder of Vicarious Visions, took us through several levels of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, showing off the new features that will be available in this sequel. Most notable among these is the "Power Fusion" function where two heroes can combine their powers for great justice.

You can check out the new images from the game below, and a new Iron Fist video and highlights after the break.

Gallery: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (4/2/09) | 5 Photos

The first game featured 22 different Marvel characters, which you assemble into teams of four, and MUA2 adds two more to that roster for a total of 24. They haven't revealed everyone that's in the game yet, but Iron Fist and Luke Cage will definitely be playable. You can pick out many more from the previously released trailer for the game, and we're hoping that Deadpool will be returning for this one.

Graphically, the game is much improved over the original, and the camera angle has been adjusted down so you can see further in front of you. You can also switch team members now without having to jump out to the character screen. Vicarious Visions promises that the game holds more than 10 hours of gameplay, with an opportunity for replay provided by several story branching points.

As previously mentioned, the game follows the Marvel Civil War storyline that pits Iron Man against Captain America and features different endings for both heroes. The "branch point" for both of those heroes occurs a third of the way into the game, where you'll be prompted to choose a side in the conflict.

The big new addition to the game are the fusion moves, and there are 276 total combinations in the game. They will also be including DLC characters at some point in the future, and they'll drop in and be able to fuse with the existing characters. Some of the ones we saw included Thor bouncing lightning off of Captain America's shield and hitting multiple enemies at once and Wolverine bouncing Iron Man's repulsor chest-ray with his claws. You can also acquire boosts in the game that will give you special abilities: Thor spins off a tornado, the Human Torch sets fire to it, and you've got a twister that would make Bill Paxton wet his pants.

You'll also be able to upgrade your characters' core powers, abilities, and boosts in the game as you accrue experience points, and the developers promise that the upgrade screen will be easily accessible in game: it won't require a trip to the character menu, and when you access it during multiplayer, AI will take over your character while you upgrade their powers. You can use these to shape your team's abilities by, say, giving everyone electrical hits, and upping their electrical resistance. Bam, you've got an electric version of the Avengers, and so on.

We were shown the opening level in Latveria, which has been seeing a lot of strange activity since (spoiler alert!) Doom's apparent death at the end of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. We didn't see Doom himself, but we imagine he'll be in there. We also saw a boss encounter with Electro, who is a staple of the Marvel video games. He's armed with plenty of puns like "I don't mean to shock you..." and so on.

We weren't shown multiplayer, but the game will feature four-player local and online co-op. If you don't have a full team, you'll play with AI bots in the other slots. There are over 300 conversations in the game, with character responses appearing based on who you like to play as. Is the Hulk your favorite character? Your conversation responses will be ... Hulkish. Like Spidey? You'll get a lot of jokes and puns.

There's more to come on this game, which is out sometime this fall, and we're looking forward to more character reveals. But hey, we already got Luke Cage and Iron Fist! We're happy.

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