Pros A large cast of characters to choose from.
Cons The same formula used from 5 years ago still hinders this game
Summary I really wanted to love this game. After playing Batman, I really really wanted to love this game. But...after putting about 6 hrs worth of work, I like it enough. MUA II is pretty much the same game we have played since X Men Legends for PS2. That's not to say that it's a bad thing but after 6 years and four games, the formula hasn't changed all that much. So this time around for all of you Marvel-heads that have kept up, the Civil War story line gets played out in this game and so far with very little deviation it plays pretty closely to the comic and that is a big plus for this game so no worries there.
What I would really advise (and the game does this as well) is once you reach the point where you have to choose sides, save your game because for those of you who choose to go back and play as the opposing side of your choice would probably not want to go back and grind out from the beginning to reach that point.
For many of you that already know about the split and other minutiae of the game I won't bore you with what you all already know. But, how does it play? Well, if you played the other 3 then it's pretty much the same fare. Choose your teams and go for broke. Most of you already know about the cusomizations that you can do for your characters but what about the Fusions? it's really the only new thing that Activision added in this year and some are pretty cool and some are forgettable. So far, I have seen 3 different types of fusions and they work as follows:
Guided - means you guide your Fusion to the target(s)
Clear - A wide angle fusion which clears out an area of baddies
Targeted - a fusion that hits a target that you specify.
What I did notice is that while some are indeed unique, there are some that are the same no matter which combos you use. Example: Gambit fused with either Juggernaut, Luke Cage or the Thing give the same fusions. Beyond that however, at least you don't have to learn an impossible button combo to execute. Just make sure you are using the right ones for the job especially boss fights.
The boss fights are a bit more fun this time around as in some cases you have to really use your head instead of jumping straight in pounding away and getting beaten in the process. I would say out of the four bosses I have encounted (I chose Anti Reg BTW) von Bardas and Bishop's fights were satisfying.
One more upside is that the graphics have improved quite a bit BUT...camera angles still suck and it's quite easy to lose sight of where you are in a mob. This is something I was hoping addressed from the last version. One small item I did note was how they used the fonts from the comic which really added to the attactiveness to playing a game based on a comic story.
Another downside is that the voice acting is not great at all altho the lip synching has been fixed and some of the CGI cutscenes could have used a little more life to it. Not to mention there is one somewhat corny cameo by Stan Lee I think we could have done without. I am really waiting for the day they could take the CGI work from those scenes and use it IN the game...heh!
Also you would think that now games are doing full on voicework (like Mass Effect) with a lot of RPGs now, having simple boxes to pick from and no dialogue to accompany it is so last gen.
As far as sound effects, the game sounds really good and on a good surround system it's incredible especially when you have characters like Juggernaut stomping around on screen.
Also this time around, the alternate costumes are mostly gone and you only get (so far as I have seen) one for each character and they don't augment their ability like they did in the last game. I think this was a bad move and I hope Microsoft and Activision don't try to nickel and dime fans by making it a paid ietm via DLC.
There is a lot of replayability to be had because of course you have 2 sides to play and also a lot of unlockable content so fans of this game will have many hours of play before they find everything and then of course multiplayer is included (something I plan on trying over the weekend) and is pretty much lag free and also allows players to jump in and out of games with ease.
Lastly, the big question: Is it better than Batman? No for 2 reasons.
For one, most of us know the story of the Civil War whereas the Batman story was an original creation.
Secondly, MUA II is a mostly been there and done that whereas Batman altho taking cues from Bioshock is a somewhat fresh concept on how the Batman game should be made, so IMO, it's kind of hard to take a game with 4 iterations to date and rank it over a game that finally got the overhaul and new feel that it needed.
In the end, this is a no brainer for comic fans, Marvel fans specifically, but you may find yourselves really wanting more out of this and praying that if there is a Secret Invasion or Dark Reign game in the next few years, Activision simply won't rehash this game.