The Hulk - Review
|26/6/2003||Vivendi Universal||Radical Ent.||1||M15+||Medium|
Stan Lee isn't a name that many people would recognize instantly, but his comic books are legendary. Not only did he create Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil, but also The Hulk which this game is based upon. With the blockbuster Ang Lee film just released worldwide and doing very well with an opening weekend of just over $US62 ($AU95) million in America you would expect this game to be a simple cash-in, but it's not. The developers, Radical Entertainment, have created an all new storyline that takes place after the movie, but The Hulk still feels very much within the same universe.
|The levels are destructive.|
The storyline is as follows; Troubled scientist Bruce Banner and his enraged alter ego, Hulk, battle against the terrifying forces of the Leader - a gamma villain intent on using the Hulk’s gamma energy to unleash a relentless army of gamma creatures on the world. Betrayed by his long-time colleague and mentor, Professor Crawford, Bruce releases the essence of Hulk into the Orb (the successor to Bruce’s Gamma Sphere – used in the film). Now, Bruce must pursue the Orb and its mysterious possessor through San Francisco, into the Freehold of Alcatraz, out of heavily guarded military installations and finally to the terrifying, surreal Freehold of the Leader himself. By facing his own shattered identity, Bruce will overcome the insane intentions of the Leader.
Set across 30 levels The Hulk includes two types of gameplay. The first sees you playing the role of Bruce Banner. Bruce must use stealth to progress through the levels and avoid contact with enemies. By being detected, becoming enraged, and transforming into the Hulk you lose the level and must start again. Bruce is able to climb on top of object, crouch down and subdue enemies from behind. Unfortunately the controls to climb on top of objects aren't exactly user friendly. Unless you are in a precise position climbing on boxes etc won't happen and when you have three large Hulk Dogs chasing you it's not good. The game includes some small puzzles the best of them is the rather entertaining password switch where you must switch around letters and numbers to match a code - all within 20 seconds. Simple, but fun.
|The cut scenes are superb.|
The second style of gameplay (and the one that covers the majority of the game) is, unsurprisingly, playing as the Hulk. While in this mode you have super powers, a tonne of strength and a bad attitude. This mode of play also allows the Hulk to perform super moves on enemies. Strangely, however, many of these moves are enemy specific. Perform a special move on one character will result in a different animation/attack then on another character.
One of the best aspects of this title is the way in which the developers have created a separate storyline to the movie, but have included many of the locations from that picture such as the military base. All of these locations include destructible levels. It's possible to pick up objects to use as weapons or throwing objects.
|Tossing an enemy.|
After looking at the screens in the months prior to release I really didn't have much hope for The Hulk. Too childish, too cartoony and, well, just not cool enough compared to the upcoming movie. For the most part, however, this game manages to exceed all my expectations. My only real complaint is the repetitiveness of the gameplay. This game feels like one of the side scrolling beat 'em ups from the 1980's, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but some people may not enjoy the repetitiveness. Strangely at times during the game The Hulk can smash through steel doors, but not the concrete surrounding the doors. Another slight disappointment is that in much of the game you can merely sprint past the enemies to the next location without taking them on. At certain points the enemies left behind will just give up and disappear making the levels far to easy to complete.
Graphically I'm still in two minds about this game. The first thing that grabs your attention is the cut scenes which have a superb cartoon styled look with large areas of flat colour giving a wonderful cartoon look. Simplicity is the key and the animation and story telling sequences are superb. The actual in-game graphics also surprise. While the plain colours, lack of texturing and cartoon style are initially off-putting they soon grow on you to the point where you appreciate the cartoon style which the developers have aimed for.
|One of Bruce's stealth missions.|
One of the games strong points is the ability to destroy almost anything within the game world. Rather then just destroy them by hand you can use much of the scenery as weapons against the enemies. Likewise the Hulk can destroy walls, objects and even the ground. In an impressive feat the developers have managed to maintain a constant 50fps during the game, no matter how much action is taking place on screen. If there is an issue with the graphics it has to be the camera angles which at times, and mostly during the Bruce Banner levels, hinder the viewpoint. It's not uncommon to walk around an invisible corner to see security patrols that were just out of viewable range. I would have also liked to have seen the in-game texturing a little more rich. Sure it's a cartoon based world, but it still needs that little bit more.
With Eric Bana providing the voiceovers in the game there is little doubt as to the voice acting quality in the title. Fortunately all the secondary actors are equally impressive. The music and effects are also well worth a mention as they provide a suitably cartoon atmosphere to the game. Something interesting about this game is the option of 5.1 sound which despite trying desperately I was unable to get working on my fairly high-end setup. There is no mention of Dolby Pro Logic (I or II) on the games boot-up, nor DTS. Other web sites have, however reported it working. Having said that this game still rocks in Stereo sound.
|Now that's a nice shade of green.|
Overall, The Hulk is an enjoyable title which has a couple of small issues holding it back. While the gameplay may become tiresome for many people, I enjoyed it from start to finish. If you're a fan of the comic book, or even the Hulk in general then Radical Entertainment have crafted a game that will most likely keep you very happy. Worth a look.
Review By: David Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Cut scenes are great, in-game graphics and camera could be better.||72%|
|SOUND||Solid music and sound effects, but the voice overs are stunning.||80%|
|GAMEPLAY||It may become repetitive, but it is fun with 2 mission styles.||75%|
|VALUE||There are plenty of extras, several difficulty levels and many codes.||80%|
|OVERALL||The Hulk is quite a surprise. Don't be put off by the cartoony graphics as the game is quite fun. Actually, it's quite reminiscent of those old but (for me at least) very fun scrolling beat 'em ups.||74%|