PS2 REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK: ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION

If you like all the smashing and crashing that went on in Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters, then you're going to love Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. You gonna' smile big or me smash in face, unnerstand?

Developers, Radical Entertainment, saw so much potential when they did the movie-inspired version of the Incredible Hulk that they decided to do another one. It's not a sequel so much as it is a revisiting of the legend. They've listened to the criticism and have delivered a game that's full of action - which means it's short on Banner and long on Hulk. This is the best Hulk game ever. Nuff said?

Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction takes place in a city and out in the badlands. In both environments there are plenty of things to smash. There is a freedom to the game that evokes GTA but the city isn't as large. It's kind of like a big movie set. There are limitations but the non-linear approach to the gameplay allows you to discover the adventure on your own. In this way, you are the Hulk, and events are triggered through your actions.

While you can run around and smash the crap out of things such as cars, lampposts, trees, fences, bridges and buildings, there's some strategy to the gameplay. You can actually use some of the things that you destroy to help you. For instance you can use items such as bus for a shield. Or you can knock down a radio antenna and hurl it like a spear. The Hulk has lots of moves that makes him very flexible. With combos, chains, weapon attacks and throws, the Hulk is able to defend himself against a variety of enemies and their weapons.

His immediate enemies are the local law enforcers that shoot at him with various guns. Later on he faces the army that is armed with tanks, rocket launchers, missiles, harrier jets and choppers. Hulk can jump and avoid some of these attacks but eventually he's going to have to get a hold of some of these weapons and destroy them with his bare hands. You ain't seen nothing until you've seen him take down a harrier jet.

Bosses increase the level of difficulty. Some of these guys can take out an entire city block with one attack. The Hulk takes on a giant mech specifically designed to make the Hulk an anti-Hulk. Other enemies such as the Abomination and Mercury will definitely give your button pushing skills a workout. It's not that the gameplay requires button mashing as much as it requires a methodical approach to using the right moves and combos. This may stand in contrast to the Hulk's portrayal of a brain-dead behemoth but remember that his fighting skills are almost supernaturally controlled. If there's one thing the Hulk is hard-wired to perform, instinctively, if not Zen-like, is combat. It's going to take some time to perfect but it's fun trying. The free range mode lets you get in as much practice as you need.

Paul Jennings lends his talents to the production and Ron Perlman provides us with some excellent voiceovers. The result is a game that looks good and sounds good with a storyline that would do Marvel proud. It's like a "greatest hits" of comic book scenes come to life.

There are a few flaws here and there but they are so minor that the only reason I mention them is to prove that I'm not biased. Sure I love the Hulk and I love this game but I can overlook a bit of gameplay repetition. At least it's the kind of gameplay repetition that I want repeated. Plenty of unlockables and a documentary of the making of the game will ensure that you get your money's worth.

Preview by Vaughn

Updated Hands On: Sometimes we game reviewers are just like you. Oh sure, sometimes we get perks in the mail like free games, t-shirts, toys, invites to parties thrown by Sony....but sometimes we're just like you and have to play game demos that we get in magazines. Case in point: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

Much like you I bought the latest edition of The Official Xbox Magazine and much like you, I discarded the contents and loaded the demo disk. You mean they write reviews and previews and stuff? I never noticed either! I'm just teasing. I like those guys and gals, except when they let the watercooler guy review games. What's up with just letting anyone review? Sure it works for GamePro, but seriously....

The two minute timed demo of TIHLUD is a gamma ray sized blast and I salute Radical for giving us a game that finally captures the raw power and sheer magnitude of Lee & Kirby's creation. From the moment The Hulk smashes down onto the city streets, it's all out mayhem. As mentioned the demo is timed simply due to Radical preferring you buy your own copy of the game when it's released later this month and not wanting to give you ultimate freedom running around the Hulk's sandbox. Radical did the right thing by releasing this demo. Since most gamers automatically assume superhero games suck and Hulk games usually really suck, this one would have been dead in the water. But since gamers are taking out their frustrations on this virtual New York and lovin every ever-lovin' green minute of it, Radical, Sierra and Vivendi Universal are going to sell a Hulk's load of these games. And so they should; this is a superhero game done right to the nth degree.

Our Not-So-Jolly-Green-Giant is a towering menacing figure, standing at least 10-12 feet tall compared to the puny humans scrambling beneath his size 24s. He can pick up any vehicles in his way, smash down buidings with his fists, jump hundreds of feet in the air, rips cars in half and wear them as fist protectors, bowl over approaching enemies with street wreckage, hurl buses, surf on buses and tanks, run up buildings, climb up them with his fists...and the moves go on and on, with each one more insane than the last. It's good to be The Hulk because smashing stuff never felt so incredibly satisfying.

While Hulk is big, some of the enemies you'll face are even bigger, giving you quite the challenge. During the demo you'll find yourself face to face with a mech who needs to be taught a lesson as well as annoying little helicopter who Hulk just wants to smash. And so he does.

I'm not exactly sure how current a build the demo I played is, but I did find that Hulk's lock on ability wasn't very forgiving as it rarely allows you to target the most immediate threat. Perhaps that will change in the final version. Even if it doesn't, it's a minor issue at best when compared to how many aspects Radical got right.

Many gamers are comparing this game to Treyarch's Spider-Man 2 and for the most part it's a worthy comparison, although I suspect Hulk's world will be a tad larger. Hulk even manages to crawl up walls although he does it with much less finesse than Aunt May's favorite nephew. While some similarities apply between both gamers let me just say that copying a successful is always a great idea. Perhaps more game developers should do it.

Radical definitely has a mega hit on their hands. The only competition in the near future for Superhero game of the year is Treyarch's upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man. It remains to be seen just exactly how satisfying it is to tear up the city streets as Venom when compared to The Hulk. If you haven't already played the demo (available for PS2 and Xbox...sorry Cube owners, but nobody forced you to by that Nintendo product) I strongly suggest you hunt it out today. And since you'll be at the game store anyway, you had better put in your pre-order for next week because The Hulk is coming to town and he's bringing presence. Get it? Presence? Yeah, whatever. You make a better joke.

Preview by Vaughn

Previous Preview: Fresh from the Game Developers Conference (GDC) comes some new info on the next Hulk game, due out in August and based on the comic book character, not the movie CG monster.

As mentioned below the game now titled The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, takes place in a "sandbox" setting which means the game world is open to you at anytime and you won't be limited by having to reach other levels to progress - much like Spider-Man 2 for the consoles.

The subtitle Ultimate Destruction is certainly appropriate as gamers will be allowed to destroy everything. The term anti-hero comes to mind and although it's been overused, it works for a character like The Hulk who doesn't really know the difference between right and wrong. He's just big, dumb and pissed off and he wants to smash!! So the developers at Radical allow you to do just that! Rip cars in half, throw them, knock buildings over etc. The more bad ass you are, the more authority figures you'll have to contend with - which of course means "more destructive".

That's good stuff. We can related to that, but one thing that raised a red flag was Radical's mention of Hulk Golf. Say what? Anyway as it was explained, Hulk is in the desert and he has this giant golf ball which he has to use incredible force to get it into a hole miles away. Uh, okay. That sounds decidedly stupid and inane and the reason it does, is simply because it is stupid and inane - at least in theory. If Radical spends ist time on things like Hulk Golf and doesn't allow the player to play the game as Bruce Banner and turn into the Hulk when things go sour, then another developer has completely missed out on an opportunity which every gamer who plays a superhero game wants. Gamers don't want to instantly be the hero - they want to be able to change INTO that hero at will. The only game to EVER allow this was Superman on the Atari 2600 and maybe if memory serves correctly, Superman on the NES (which sucked). Developers need to realize that the secret identity of a hero isn't just a plot device - it's there for dramatic tension.

Well, diatribes aside, we'll be keeping a close eye on this title as the release draws near. You can now scroll down and see the pretty new screenshots. Go ahead.

Preview by Vaughn

No your eyes aren't deceiving you - it's a brand new game featuring the comic book emerald behemoth! We're not sure the last game was starring the movie version of the Hulk, because they were both computer generated....but in any case, this not so jolly green giant is based on Marvel's favorite pissed off monster.

What's so exciting about this particular game is the "sandbox" style gameplay. This means that like Grand Theft Auto and other games like it, you are free to do anything you want to and go anywhere. It doesn't mean that you Hulk will be carjacking vehicles and talking smack to dope dealers. Duh! One of the most exciting aspects is Hulk's never before used ability (at least in videogames) to jump incredibly high in the air to get himself around. As well, Hulk will be able to punch his gigantic fists of fury into the sides of buildings and crawl up them like Spider-Man. Not sure why he'd bother, since he could leap them in a single bound, but whatever floats your boat, I guess. Let me just say for the record that I promise to never use that "float your boat" saying ever again.

"Our collaboration with Marvel on The Incredible Hulk will give gamers the opportunity to play as one of the most powerful and exciting characters to ever exist," said Michael Pole, EVP, Worldwide Studios, VU Games. "The Incredible Hulk will deliver unlimited power and freedom immersed in an authentic world that will engage Hulk fans and core gamers."

"We are very excited to have Radical developing this new Hulk title, continuing another blockbuster Marvel game franchise," said Ames Kirshen, Director Of Video Game Development at Marvel Enterprises. "Vivendi Universal Games and Radical are creating an interactive world where the player will have all of the freedoms and larger than life abilities of the Hulk in enormous and interactive ’sandbox’ environments which really capture the essence of the character."

In The Incredible Hulk, players can jump anywhere, climb anything and smash everything -- even destroy entire buildings. Gamers will create their own Hulk-powered weapons from anything they can rip out of the environment, unlock new moves to battle huge enemies in epic boss fights and experience deep and varied game elements by exploring free-roaming non-mission and side mission gameplay.

The Incredible Hulk is being developed by Radical Games, creators the successful The Simpsons: Hit & Run, and will see a release in Summer 2005 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox

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System: X, PS2, GC
Dev: Radical Ent.
Pub: VU Games
Released: Aug 2005
Players: 1
Review By StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
3.75
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
4.0