How do you go about creating the perfect licensed product so that casual gamers who love the characters and hardcore gamers who love fighting games will both be satisfied with the end result? You don't - because it's an impossibility. That was a trick question.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is the perfect example of this vexxing conundrum. EA has taken an interesting premise that was brimming with potential and delivered this weak in the knees one button beat-em-up that has absolutely no teeth. The fighting engine is so watered down that only geeking Marvel fanboys will elicit any enjoyment out of spending any time with it and even that camp will probably be largely polarized on what EA has created. The ones who do manage to keep the power on for longer than the time it takes to check out a few of their favorite characters, will most likely short circuit their controllers after a time anyway, due to their incessant drooling.

The biggest mistake EA made was thinking that they could create characters that would be as exciting as the pop culture legacy that the House of M has produced over the last few decades. Had EA had simply worried more about the gameplay than trying to infuse their own creations and left Marvel Nemesis a standalone comic book character brawler featuring all Marvel characters, the end result might have been a tighter, far more interesting experience. As it stands I defy any gamer to care about the Imperfects, their backstorys or their unique powers as this is all about pitting Wolverine against Venom or Spider-Man against Ironman. Even a DC versus Marvel game would have been a far more interesting clash than attempting to introduce new characters. It worked for Capcom years ago because the Street Fighter II characters were already heavily ingrained into pop culture.

Where the gameplay falters inexcusably is the primary one button gameplay. It is suggested this was done so that players could easily move from one character to the next without having to re-learn difficult "movesets" for each fighter. The last time I checked, most gamers weren't brain damaged to the point where they couldn't function when having to learn a few new button commands. Has EA even watched some of you kids play games? Most of you gamers were raised with controllers in your hands - and yes, we salute you (but get outside once in awhile!) - and games like this are just completely insulting to your skills. Even casual gamers aren't afraid of learning some cool new moves, so why EA would pander to a demographic that I'm not even sure exists is a complete mystery. Is this the same demographic that is going to prefer playing games with a remote control because a controller is too icky for them? WTF, dudes?

Yes, it's fun to play as Spider-Man, Venom, Wolverine, Thing etc while you make your way through the games relatively short Story mode, a few versus battles and online. And man, they look great. The graphics are excellent and while the enviroments aren't as plentiful as I was hoping for, they are quite diverse. Marvel Nemesis takes place in a war-torn New York and the fighting is actually a quite a bit darker in tone than the usual superhero game - but that still doesn't make it any better, so get those hopes down. Each level features quite a bit of environmental destruction which is interesting for awhile, but ultimately it all comes crashing down on the shoulders of the "Fighting For Dummies" control config and the mind-numbing repetition of it all. Let me make it clear that the controlling of your character is done very well; it's the simplicity of the control that I have the problem with in case you're wondering why I scored the control a nice looking 4.0.

In terms of actual fighting, you'll find that melee characters such as The Thing, Wolverine and Daredevil are always at the mercy of projectile fighters. The game is criminally unbalanced and you'll be lucky to even get close to some opponents at times during a big boss battle.

Story mode which is played out like a Final Fight type Beat-em-up offers players the opportunity to wander the streets of NYC, fighting hordes of cookie cutter aliens and performing repetitive attacks. It reminded me of a much nicer looking, but surprisingly shallower (if you can believe it) version of Maximum Carnage.

I took the game online and because I only had one copy of the game, couldn't really find anyone to play against because the game had just been released and most players were probably returning it back to the store. When I did find someone to play against, I have to admit that it was fun, but only for awhile. Make that an extremely short while. EA knows their way around online and MN doesn't suffer from any particular ethernet maladies; it functions equally as well online as it does offline.

Sorry, but with X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse, Ultimate Spider-Man and the recently released Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction on storeshelves, EA's collaboration with Marvel just pales in comparison in every department, save graphics. If you have trouble figuring out the intricate mechanics of turning the pages of a comic book, Marvel Nemesis might sink your battleship, but the rest of you should avoid it like being tickled by Logan's claws. If you're a diehard Marvel fan, by all means rent the game and get your flame on, but don't be investing cash in this for the long term.

Preview by Gooseberry

In whispers and hushed tones, we've been hearing about an upcoming crossover project between EA and Marvel and after months of rumors, it has all been finally revealed.

Electronic Arts just announced a new game in the Marvel franchise, Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. The game will feature Super Heroes from the Marvel Universe as well as a new set of characters created through collaboration with EA and top comic book industry talent.

“Marvel Nemesis delivers the definitive Super Hero videogame allowing gamers to play as and against the world’s greatest Super Heroes,” said Marc Aubanel, Executive Producer, EA Canada. “Marvel Nemesis truly captures the Marvel Universe offering players an authentic Super Hero fighting experience that comic book fans and gamers have been asking for.”

Ames Kirshen, Director Of Video Game Development at Marvel Enterprises, added, "We are thrilled to be working with EA and collaborating with some of the top talents in both the videogame and comic book industries in creating this groundbreaking comic series and innovative fighting game franchise."

EA is calling on the talent of top comic book writers and concept artists, such as Jae Lee, for Marvel character and game design as well as renowned artist, Paul Catling, among other industry talents, to create a new family of Super Heroes that will go face to face with an all-star line-up of Marvel characters for the ultimate showdown.

Lee has illustrated high-profile comic book titles including Spider-Man, Uncanny X-men, X-Factor, Captain America, Transformers Versus G.I. Joe and his own creation Hellshock. Catling is best known for his concept artwork and character design on Hollywood blockbuster films including Spider-Man 2, AVP: Alien Vs. Predator, The Punisher, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects will feature more than a dozen fighters in fully interactive and destructible environments. Gamers will have full control over the individual characters with each fighter having unique attributes and super powers that are true to their background adding more depth and fighting strategy to the game.

The Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects videogame also spawned the new Marvel six issue mini-series, Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects, launching this May. In the comic book, Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Thing and Elektra clash with EA’s Niles Van Roekel, an evil alien scientist out to create a super army of vicious warriors. Through the comic books, the new EA characters will be unveiled each month leading up to the launch of the game.

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System: Xbox, PS2, GC
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Vaughn