The Incredible Hulk
The reboot of The Incredible Hulk franchise on the big screen means someone -- this time Sega -- is looking to cash in on the hype in videogame form. Since The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction developer Radical Entertainment has its hands full with Prototype, Sega has enlisted Austin, Texas-based Edge of Reality (Cipher Complex, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, Shark Tale, Over the Hedge) to bring the green behemoth to next-gen consoles for the first time. Hulk fans have been blessed with some pretty decent games from Radical in the past, and from what we've experienced with Edge of Reality's first effort, we wish Radical could have developed this game as well.
The Incredible Hulk will have one storyline that follows the events of the movie with the majority of the game taking place in New York, but the game will also include three separate storylines interwoven throughout the experience. Almost all of the characters in the movie are in the game, and Edge of Reality has lined up Ed Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt and Tim Roth to provide voice talent and likenesses for authenticity. The other storylines will be based around comic book lore and elements in the Hulk universe, so expect to take on such long-time Hulk staples as BiBeast, the U-Foes and more.
With Radical's two previous Hulk games providing a pretty solid framework of what a Hulk game should be, Edge of Reality has taken many ideas from those titles and attempted to expand on them. The gameplay is mainly mission-based to move the storylines along, and icons appear on your mini-map to indicate where you can begin new missions with color-coded icons for each of the game's four storylines. Even though things are split up, the game's final nemesis is still the Abomination, just like in the upcoming film.
The fun of Hulk titles is more or less how much destruction you can cause and we're happy to report that almost everything in this version of Manhattan can be leveled. The weaponizing of vehicles has been replicated from Radical's titles, and the Hulk can tear through a car with ease and demolish enemies and environmental objects with his vehicular boxing gloves. The more you lay waste to the city, the more stars you'll rack up -- ? la Grand Theft Auto -- and the military will do their darnedest to spoil the party. Soldiers are easily dispatched, however, and if a tank rolls up, just peel off the turret and smack away at the remaining portion like with a baseball bat.
As you progress through the game, Hulk will unlock new attacks as well as upgrades for current attacks. As Hulk does more damage, and gets angrier and angrier, this fills a Rage Meter which powers Hulk's super-moves such as Ground Pounds and Thunder Claps. Unleashing these special attacks will allow for even more wreckage. For example, when upgraded, a simple Thunder Clap can emit enough force to topple buildings in one epic motion.
Even though Hulk can make enormous leaps, scale buildings, and launch from rooftop to rooftop, New York is a pretty big place. To get from mission point to mission point, Hulk can hop on the subway. The development team refers to the use of the subway as Hulk Portals, but we think it's rather silly that the Hulk needs public transportation.
In our hands-on time with the game, controlling Hulk was great, but it felt like environmental elements, enemy tanks and other vehicles didn't have any weight to them.
Toppling buildings is entertaining, but they fell so easily it was as if they were made of balsa wood. Instead of running up buildings as he did in Ultimate Destruction, the Hulk now digs his paws into the side of a building and climbs, or flings himself up to scale buildings faster. We sometimes had a hard time latching onto buildings as we dashed up the sides, which brought the Hulk thundering to the ground and made us more and more frustrated.
Hulk's character model looked fantastic, his body almost bursting at the seams with muscle-tastic proportions. The representation of New York is decent, though rather generic, and building textures and vehicle types are often repetitive. Honestly, how many taco delivery vehicles can one city have? Apparently, a lot.
If you want a break from the mission-based action, Edge of Reality will also incorporate over 20 Hulk themed mini-games ranging from darts to a Crazy Taxi-style romp. However, there is no multiplayer element to these games. The team also plans for a healthy dose of unlockables for comic fans, but the forms in which these will be found is still unknown. We're hoping for a Lou Ferrigno model, a She-Hulk, or a number of skins from Hulk's iterations in the comics.
While what makes Hulk games fun is the ability to ravage through cities as the Incredible Hulk, this game seems to have a been-there-done-that-already feel to it. Even though Edge of Reality borrowed many concepts from Radical's titles such as weaponizing vehicles and objects, it threw out vehicle surfing and didn't really seem to add much that's new. Trashing everything in sight is still fun, but we're wondering exactly how long the fun will last. We'll reserve judgment until we play through the final game to see if The Incredible Hulk is more inspiring than our first quick taste.
This preview was based on a hands-on demo of the game at the Sega offices.