The good news: Marvel Alliance 2 doesn't feature nearly as much waggling as the first game. The bad news: almost everything else. This action/role-playing game set in the Marvel universe starts with a good foundation--namely, the excellent Civil War storyline, which provides a fitting backdrop for what could have been an all-star, superpowered frolic. Unfortunately, an unfinished and poorly designed button masher is wrapped around it instead. The action is awkward, the level design is messy and uninspired, and the minimal dialogue and inconsistent voice acting denigrate the source material. In contrast to its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 cousins, this version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is wholly inadequate.
The game doesn't do the explosive story any justice.
Nevertheless, there are some points of light twinkling in the murk that mainly come from the source material bringing the fabled heroes together. The story is based on two well-known Marvel storylines: Secret War and Civil War. A number of excellent prerendered cutscenes bring the imaginative plot to life and, more importantly, force you to make an important choice a short ways into the game. You see, our bastions of justice are split into two camps over a newly established law coercing superheroes into officially registering with the US government. Your decision impacts how the middle portion plays and which heroes from the sizeable roster you can include in your team of four before the two branching paths meet again for the final act. The divergent story is a great idea and, in theory, should provide a good reason to return for a second round to see what you missed if you were to have chosen differently. However, this bifurcated story is diminished by simplistic storytelling that fails to involve you with its characters. The thoughtful plot is thinned out by shockingly few (and sparsely written) character conversations in between missions--none of which involve multiple dialogue options, let alone divergent ones. The voice acting doesn't help matters either. While some heroes sound fine, other voice-overs are amateurish, and some spoken dialogue specific to the Wii--such as an exchange between two scientists--is just plain embarrassing.
The first half hour of the game introduces you to all you'll need to know to get you through the missions. From an isometric camera view, you lead a team of four Marvel stars through hordes of expendable henchmen, occasionally taking detours to perform simple tasks or solve puzzles. You lead one character at a time, while the other three are controlled by the AI or a buddy (or two or three) in local cooperative play. By hammering on the A and B buttons, you string standard attacks into combos that might trip or stun your foes. Each hero can eventually perform four different superpowers, and depending on your hero, you can jump, double jump, fly, or even teleport. If you want to squeeze the most out of the experience, you will do best to grab a friend: AI-controlled heroes are a real drag on the proceedings. They often stand around doing nothing in the midst of big fights and boss battles, so you may find yourself screaming at the Incredible Hulk to stop talking about smashing and actually do it. AI characters also have a habit of huddling close to you as you traverse the tight, cluttered hallways, as if villain-stomping were an excuse for team bonding. This can get incredibly vexing because they have a habit of fencing you into corners and not letting you escape. You can switch freely to other characters on your active team, so this isn't a game-ending problem, but it's one of many glaring issues that make Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 clumsy and frustrating.
Perhaps awkward clumps of heroes without regard for personal boundaries would be easier to handle if the levels were accommodating, but alas, you spend a good amount of time walking down narrow, flavorless corridors and encountering poorly placed clusters of enemies prepared to take advantage of your team's greatest weakness: a bad camera. It's bad enough that it will nauseatingly swoop around to give you a completely different view of the action than you need (this is particularly annoying in co-op play), but it has an even worse habit of positioning itself just above doorways where a cluster of collaborators will be waiting to deliver a beatdown. As if to give you a fancy cinematic view, there are a few sequences in which you watch the action from the side, but most of these occasions don't work out. In one case, you view through a series of windows broken up by slats, so you can't even see the action that well. Furthermore, the frame rate drops considerably during these sections, which breaks up the flow and destroys any visual appeal that may have been gleaned. You can control the camera manually by pressing the 1 button and tilting the remote, but this doesn't alleviate any of the aforementioned irritations. It seems that the camera was created to handle large, open-air environments--but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 doesn't feature any. Even the city-street levels--the largest in the game--suffer from these issues.
Fun fact: When Psylocke first appeared, she was Captain Britain's twin sister.