• I’m beginning to wonder if Sega have access to a “Marvel by Numbers” Game Construction tool. Something you feed a famous Marvel character into one end of, and it spits some generic game based around said hero out of the other end.

    The thing is, I’ve been a big fan of The Incredible Hulk since I used to collect the comics, round about the time that the whole Grey Hulk / “Mr Fixit” stuff was going on. So it was nice to see that despite Sega’s by-the-numbers approach to all things Marvel, there are at least some good nods to the original intellectual property in this game.

    Based on the movie as it is, don’t expect Nobel-prize-for-literature-winning plots, but as soon as you’ve fired up The Incredible Hulk (and collected your handy bonus achievement points for playing Iron Man, unlocking yourself a “Hulk buster” player character in the process – let’s face it, you need something to reward you for playing that…game) it becomes apparent that this is merely a trot through the salient parts of the movie with a bit of extra side-mission padding in between.

    The Incredible Hulk

    The game is set in New York, and it seems a little strange to revisit a city many of you might’ve been tooling around a facsimile of recently. In fact The Incredible Hulk’s sandbox New York compares reasonably well to GTA’s super-detailed world, but scratch the surface a little too hard with those big green nails of yours and things start to unpick quickly.

    After a brief first mission to introduce the characters (because you had no idea who The Incredible Hulk was, did you?) you’re up and running picking out the various challenges available to complete the main storyline.

    Early on, you make the acquaintance of one Rick Jones, a teenager with a penchant for gadgetry. In the original source material Rick Jones was a teenager who Bruce Banner (the hulk’s weedy alter ego) saved at the expense of giving himself a massive dose of Gamma Radiation. In the game, Jones appears as a handy sidekick who can help The Incredible Hulk / Bruce Banner complete the quest to rid New York City of the Legionnaires, a mysterious cadre of nefarious types ready to raze the city to the ground.

    Various mission triggers appear on the map of New York and anyone familiar with the recent Spiderman games will be right at home here (see what I mean about identikit Marvel fare?)

    In fact that’s not all as far as comparing Spidey’s outings and The Hulk’s smash-em-up approach to things goes. Several of your moves as The Hulk could almost have been lifted straight from Spiderman games 1-3. For instance you can smash your way up to the top of high buildings, “Rampage” style, and even level them if you’re in a particularly truculent mood. You can also leap across town, leaving nice little dints in the tarmac as you go.

    What’s rather interesting is that you can level up your abilities, “Crackdown” style- a really nice touch that makes hunting out the various bonus item canisters hidden around the metropolis absolutely essential. That’s a nice piece of design that puts a little bit more polish on this movie licence.

    If only some of the game’s graphics had been similarly lovingly attended to. The New Yorkhigh point of the game is probably the attention to detail that went into the various presentation screens and bonus material splashouts. The actual in-game graphics suffer from wonky 3-step animations, giving you the impression that most of the characters just glide everywhere without actually feeling like they’re part of the game at all. here isn’t a patch on other virtual cities in much bigger and bolder sandbox games, and graphically the

    Then there’s the constant respawning of enemies, the seemingly never ending army pestilence plaguing you at every turn if you put a foot wrong (and as a huge and angry green piece of meat with an attitude problem you just can’t help yourself). I wasn’t expecting miracles to be fair, but visually despite a few nice touches with the destructible buildings and scenery, the game’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast.

    During each mission, various attackers will take pot shots at Hulky-Babes, so it’s a good job that you’re virtually indestructible. I say virtually, because even the Hulk can take damage and eventually curl up and die. Thankfully collecting Gamma Canisters will restore your healthy green glow and have you back to normal, smashing merry hell out of the city.

    Don’t get too carried away though because the more you trash the place, the more your notoriety will rise, and the army will turn up and start blasting you with tanks, Humvees and soldiers. Tearing a handy chunk of concrete off the side of a building will help shield you, and act as an offensive weapon to boot – so don’t stress too much about the enemies as they’re largely walkovers.

    In time honoured fashion though, every now and again a boss character will turn up and kick up a stink. Defeating these, and harvesting your powerups like a good little Hulk will ensure that you’ll unlock the absolutely massive multitude of bonus content contained within the game, everything from the Hulk’s various guises throughout his illustrious comic and film career (you can even play as Mr Joe Fixit himself, which made my day!) to unlockable artwork and comic covers.

    Eventually, without ruining the film too much you can pretty much guess that the nasty Colonel Thaddeus Ross and his cohort Emil Blonsky, otherwise known as The Abomination will turn up from time to time in order to make Dr Banner’s life hell. The cut-scenes spliced with bored-sounding actor’s dialogue from the film’s cast are a bit disappointing but at least they flesh out the game a little more.

    The strange thing is, I should’ve been completely outraged by this game being a big fan of the original Hulk, and with no great love of the movies so far – but there’s something incredibly (hah) mindless and fun about going on the rampage as The Jolly Green Giant, and even the way some of the mission structures have been put together actually gave me a slight grin of satisfaction, mainly because they’re no pushover like you’d expect from a game designed perhaps to provide a weekend’s entertainment over pizza and warm beer.

    The Incredible Hulk passes muster as a movie licensed game, in that it offers short-term thrills for die-hard fans of the film it was based on, with a goodly dose of bonus material for dogged fans of the comics.

    Take care to ramp up the difficulty to the highest level if you fancy getting your money’s worth out of this one, as it can be a bit of a walkover at times.

    All in all, approach “The Incredible Hulk” game for what it is, and don’t expect miracles even though smashing things never really goes out of fashion and never proves to be anything less than fun.

    Score: 5/10

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