Marvel Ultimate Alliance is an Action RPG series published by Activision and developed by Raven Software and Vicarious Visions, starring many of Marvel's most popular superheroes and supervillains. A spiritual successor of sorts to the X-Men Legends series (arguably a sequel to the second, but the first is in a continuity of its own), which was also developed by Raven. The first one was released in 2006 and took you through a tour of the Marvel Universe trying to stop Doctor Doom and his Masters of Evil.The sequel was released in 2009, developed solely by Vicarious Visions (due to Raven opting to do the X-Men Origins: Wolverine tie-in game on their own at the same time), is based on the Secret War and Civil War events before eventually splitting off into an original plotline altogether. The heroes are split into pro-reg and anti-reg as the plot progresses and the player's decisions will affect the ending as well as which characters they can choose.Both games had versions released on the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and PSP. All versions of MUA 1 were essentially the exact same game apart from graphics and exclusive characters (which is proven by the PC port, which allowed for switching between both sets of graphics on the fly as well as game modding). The differences between versions of MUA 2 are more drastic; the Xbox 360 and PS3 version was made from scratch whereas the Wii, PS2, and PSP version is more or less a Mission Pack Sequel to MUA 1.
"The villains are throwing bombs! Let's not make an attempt to avoid them! Durrrrr..."
Ascended Meme: One of Juggernaut's Heroic Deed Boosts is called "Know Who I Am", a possible reference to the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" meme.
Assimilation Plot: In the second game, the nanites that S.H.I.E.L.D. forces were using to control supervillains launch one after their AI gains sentience, forcing the Pro-Reg and Anti-Reg heroes to reunite to stop it.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Dr. Doom. Black Panther. Namor. Lilandra. Von Bardas. If Black Panther is your main character during the boss fight with Doom, then you will literally have two heads of state, fighting each other with the power of Odin. Also, Black Panther makes use of this to convince Namor to let the team help out in Atlantis, saying that he would do the same if it was Wakanda under attack.
Badass Bookworm/Genius Bruiser: The Think Tank team bonus (The Hulk, Green Goblin, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, or Iron Man) and the Master Minds (Mr. Fantastic, Nick Fury, Iron Man, Spider-Man).
For that matter, Mr. Fantastic in general. His Fantastic Fists boost is practically a Game Breaker. When fully leveled up, it causes him to get critical hits almost 100% of the time. It's only supposed to affect his basic melee attacks, but it's glitched so that it affects all of his attacks. It can also combine with other damage multipliers, creating some hilariously short boss battles (i.e. the boss is KO'd before the attack animations finish).
Deadpool: And YOU! (points to the screen) YOU THINK IT MAKES ME LESS OF A MAN IF I CAME HERE FOR THE CHERRY FESTIVAL? YOU'RE LAUGHING WITH YOUR EYES! I CAN SEE IT! TIME FOR A BOSS BATTLE SUCKERS!
In fact, during the credits of the first game, Deadpool visits the developer and complains about how he isn't stronger than everyone else. In response the developer further nerfs him and threatens to make him DLC. The irony being that despite his complaining, Deadpool actually is one of the best characters in the game.
At one point in the second game, you can have a conversation with She-Hulk where you ask her about the "strange non-sequitur jokes" she used to make. Shulkie says that she leaves most of those to Deadpool, as it makes him happy. (Before DP, She-Hulk was the main fourth wall demolisher in the MU.)
Cameoing as a Senator Lieber, Stan Lee is questioned by a suspicious Deadpool, who says he knows him from somewhere. If you access the character files, Nick Fury says the same thing, and is infuriated that he cannot place what the anomaly is.
The Cameo: In both games, as expected. Special mention to the cutscene that plays prior to the final mission, that explains what has happened while the playable characters were off-planet - The remaining heroes of Earth have mounted an offense against Dr Doom, but most have fallen and only Cyclops & a heavily mutilated Colossus are definitely still alive. Depicted in this scene are Charles Xavier, Magneto, Gambit, Shadowcat, the aforementioned Colossus & Cyclops, and the Hulk (Who is covered by shadow, except for his feet, due to licensing issues preventing the character being included in the main game).
In the second game, an early mission has you rescue none other than Stan Lee, who each character can have a little bit of personal dialogue with.
You: It's your responsibility to tell Colonel Fury about the Black Widow. Spider-Man: No, it isn't. You: Yes, it is. You have great power; and with great power there must also come... Spider-Man: If you finish that sentence, I'm gonna put so much web in your hair you'll have to shave your head!
Composite Character: As with X-Men Legends, the first game more or less based every character on their classic Marvel Universe selves, but most of the playable characters are in the Ultimate Marvel costumes for defaults (with Spider-Man and Daredevil, it really didn't matter since they look the same in either universe) though a few like Nick Fury and Deadpool have their classic looks as default and their Ultimate costumes for alternate costumes. The second game drops this and just has everyone in their classic Marvel Universe threads for their default costumes, though some do have their Ultimate looks as alternate costumes.
Averted with the Tinkerer in the sequel. Most every other boss is immune to Hulk's tackle attack but the Tinkerer isn't, leading to the hilarious image of a green muscle-bound monster tackling and punching out a feeble old man with no powers.
Cutting Off The Brances: That fact that Jean Grey is a playable character in the sequel, means Nightcrawler was the canonical sacrifice in the first game. This ultimately means the X-men will eventually disband, and Mystique will eventually murder Professor X. Also considering Senator Kelly, didn't jump on the registration bandwagon, means he was saved. Furthermore, since the West Coast of America wasn't destroyed by an asteroid, it's presumed that Lilandra was also saved.
Also, Venom and Green Goblin feel so violated by being assimilated into The Fold that they decide to join the heroes (for real this time), no strings attached, which, knowing Norman Osborn, is a real feat. Venom (Mac Gargan) in particular seemed to really enjoy the hero thing.
Perhaps the most extreme example - thanks to DLC, you can place Spider-Man on the same team as Green Goblin, Venom, & Carnage.
Escort Mission: In the first game, you can escort Doctor Strange, Corsair, and a Skrull around, but they're invincible and generally help in a fight. The appropriately-named Dum-Dum Dugan, on the other hand, isn't invincible, has a tendency to jump into fights (although he's smart enough to avoid Crimson Dynamo), and saving the game after he gets too low on health can make the Omega Base mission Unwinnable. The best bet might actually just be to use Deadpool to just teleport the team through most of the level, or even better use Spider-Woman's healing aura to fix him right up.
Almost immediately after, you have to escort Bruce Banner but he has no health bar to worry about and the escort goes through all of ONE fight before he reaches where he has to be.
In the second game, you have to protect NPC allies, from Cloak & Dagger to Venom. The worst is Songbird's solo mission, in which you must protect three scientists from an army of super-hardy mutants and Moonstone. The scientists tend to put themselves between Songbird and the enemies, making for a frustrating time.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Since you play mostly in teams of four, you may inevitably fall into this, if you know which characters to pick. For example, Deadpool (sanguine), Wolverine (choleric), Spider-Man (melancholic), and Daredevil (phlegmatic).
Four Philosophy Ensemble: Also applies. Using the same group: Deadpool (apathetic), Wolverine (cynic), Spider-Man (optimist), and Daredevil (realist).
Future Me Scares Me: Well, more like "Future Me Pissed Me Off," but in the first game if one of the characters on your team is Doctor Doom (he can be downloaded or gotten by buying the Gold Edition, but either way, he's exclusive to the Xbox 360), the Doctor Doom who's the Big Bad of the game ends up being from the future.
Game-Breaking Bug: Since many of the bosses in the second game are playable characters, replaying missions at higher levels yields the same difficulty, because the boss stays the same level as you. In the "Chemical Plant Escape" level, however, you have to protect Nick Fury from the Green Goblin. Since Nick Fury doesn't level up, and the Goblin does... By level 60, you have literally two seconds to bring the Goblin's health to zero before he kills Fury in a single shot. Unwinnable, or damn near it.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Zig-zagged n the second game - Once you pick a side in the Civil War, you're locked out out of several characters depending on your choice, only regaining them at the start of the third act. But then in New Game+, the entire roster is available to you at all times - yes, even the characters who the story dictates shouldn't be available to you, such as Captain America as a Pro-Reg.
A God Am I: In first first game, after stealing Odin's power, Doom. Nanite!Nick Fury in the second game as well.
Doctor Doom: I'll show you how a real god smites his enemies.
Nanite!Nick Fury: You damn throwbacks are like bacteria compared to us!
Godwin's Law: The special conversation between Captain America and the holograph of Nanite-infected Nick Fury. To be fair, the two of them literally had fought Hitler's Nazis together. But when Fury states that the Fold would bring an end to all future wars, Cap responds:
Captain America: Right, once you've taken everything over. Pretty sure I've heard that one before... from an old German acquaintance of ours.
Good Colors, Evil Colors: In the first game, the main baddies are Doom, Baron Mordo, Loki, Enchantress, and Ultron. All but Ultron are garbed in green.
Ground Pound: Luke Cage, the Thing, Colossus, the Hulk. Seeing a pattern?
Hero Insurance: The audio clip that can be found in the gun smuggler hideout in MUA 2 is an advertisement for Brand X Gecko Insurance which offers this policy. Does not cover acts of God or gods including Thor and Loki.
Idiot Ball: "Why is Galactus at war with the Skrulls?" Oh, Cap.note Somewhat justifiable for the sake of exposition to Marvel neophytes, but yeah, it's not like Captain America to ask something like this.
Nightcrawler grabs the door handle with both hands at the end of his "Escape from Doomcatraz" cutscene - dude, you can teleport, you don't need to open the door.
To be fair, he needs to know where he's teleporting in order to teleport there. Chances are, he didn't know where he was at the time.
What's that Nick? Doom has access to plans that detail how to steal Odin's power and he's just launched an attack on the Hellicarrier? Wait, you want us to investigate a completely unrelated event going on in Atlantis as we have no idea where Doom is. No idea, really Nick, did you think to try his castle? In the country that he rules? Feel free not to tell anyone what Doom's planning either, that'll makes things simpler.
Hey, it's Nick Fury you're talking about. He's known for keeping those kinds of stuff to himself. Also, the heroes DID try to go to Latveria, but Baron Mordo rerouted them into a badly-disguised Murderworld, remember?
Invisibility: A complete subversion of Useless Useful Stealth available to Invisible Woman, Nick Fury, and Black Panther. It works on every enemy and boss, the enemies only react when you attack them directly (meaning you can pick off one mook without any of his buddies noticing), and any enemy you do attack will only throw a couple of counter-punches before losing sight of you again. Very arguably a Game Breaker.
Karma Houdini: A fair bit of the second game is Reed Richards' fault, as his plan to mind control mass amounts of villains ends up becoming too widespread for him to control and the nanites start linking minds instead of subjugating them, ending in them attempting to assimilate the whole world. Plus, of course, the whole "mass mind control" bit in the first place. Nobody calls him out on this but Sue Storm if you get a special conversation with him.
Fridge Brilliance. Sue and Jean both started off as the weakest members of their respective teams before eventually becoming the most powerful (in Jean's case, by a very wide margin).
Look Behind You: Ms. Marvel to Shocker, when you find her in the underground weapon-smuggling tunnel in 2. He makes it seem he's not fooled until he turns around... and sees your team there.
Lost Forever: Activision refused to renew their contract with Marvel, citing poor sales, so any downloadable content for either game was removed from the Xbox 360 and PS3 marketplaces; their reasoning was that the characters "were always a limited offer." With MUA1, at least, the player can hunt down a copy of the Gold version which contains all the DLC on-disc or mod the PC version to add them in, but with MUA2, no such version exists yet, so new players are stuck without the additional characters. Did we mention that you need access to DLC to play online with other people?
Modular Epilogue: The first game had multiple segments in the epilogue for each of the moral choices the player could make during the adventure (protecting a computer that held information about the Legacy Virus, sacrificing Jean Grey or Nightcrawler, getting King Namor's medicine, finding Valkyrie's sword, destroying Galactus' planetary Drills, rescuing Princess Lilandra, and finding the Ultimate Nullifier).
Multiple Endings: MUA 1 had short vignettes at the end that changed depending on which optional objectives you completed. MUA 2 has a more traditional instance in that the side you choose at the beginning of the Civil War decides whether the Superhuman Registration Act gets passed or not.
Downer Ending: No matter which X-Man you save in Mephisto's Realm in MUA 1, in the end either the X-Men will disband (if you save Jean Grey; Nightcrawler will die by falling into the Infinite Vortex and Mystique will kill Professor X to avenge her son) or the Dark Phoenix rises again (the other way around; you save Nightcrawler and send Jean to her "death"). But considering the frequency of that last one in the comics, guess which one most players went with.
Since the X-Men are still together and Jean's alive and well with her Phoenix powers intact in MUA 2 it suggests Dark Phoenix was converted to good again. So everything worked out in the end.
However, the fact that you may actually play as Nightcrawler (provided you have the DLC, he'll always be in your party), might as well coerce you to save Jean's life.
One example is in a conversation with Spider-Woman talking about her relationship (or rather lack thereof) with Spider-Man is, she says "I'm not his cousin who he donated blood to", a reference to She-Hulk (who would appear in the sequel).
And this dialogue in MUA 2:
Spider-Man: Great to be working with you again, we should be on TV or something.
New Game+: Clearing MUA 2 on any difficulty level allows the player to replay the game on Legendary difficulty with all the stats from the previous runthrough. It also allows any character to be playable at all times, regardless of if you choose to be Pro-Reg or Anti-Reg.
Similarly, the second playthrough onward of MUA 1, aside from having the Hard difficulty level unlocked, lets you use everyone you've unlocked (as well as letting you choose your team from the very start). Which is good if you want to use Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, or Nick Fury (indeed, teams such as Classic Avengers, Supernatural, Marvel Knights, Defenders and/or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are impossible to field without these guys). Also, all the unlocked costumes, so you can turn up with Assassins (Wolvie Ultimate, Elektra Stealth, Deadpool Weapon X and Blade - any outfit but Original) all in black. And all the leveling you achieved up to that point (which, difficulty-wise, will seem like starting it all from scratch if you pick Hard).
No Kill Like Overkill: After becoming all-powerful, Doom sees a wing of bombers descending on his castle. Despite these planes offering no threat to him, he opts to create a miniature supernova to destroy them. Ostentatious even by his standards.
No-Nonsense Nemesis: After obtaining Odin's powers, Doom actually tries to just shoot the heroes, but the Watcher saves the heroes and lets Doom think he succeeded.
Not Using the Z Word: The word "soul" appears to be a dirty word in the first game. Just listen to any of Mephisto's speeches and try not to cringe every time he awkwardly forces the phrase "astral energy" into an otherwise normal demonic boast.
Though he lets it slip at the end credits audio bloopers (albeit he says "astral souls". Ugh.)
Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Ms. Marvel, Wolverine, and Spider-Man all have greater lifting strength. Ms. Marvel and Captain America also qualify for the team bonus "Bruisers".
Pragmatic Adaptation: The Wii/PS2 MUA 2. Besides keeping the same gameplay as MUA 1, various sequences were cut out, like the rescue of Ms. Marvel and the Washington, D.C. level (Ms. Marvel/Deadpool now show up from the beginning). Others were changed/shortened; The Goliath/Yellowjacket fight is practically a rehash of the Galactus fight in MUA 1, and Zombie!Von Bardas plans to blow up Times Square rather than bombing the riverfront. This leads to a bit of Fridge Logic when the subsequent cutscene still shows Von Bardas's barge going down the river.
Press X to Not Die: Or rather, press X to hit the giant boss/avoid the giant boss's attack before it hits you. Only in MUA 1.
Puny Earthlings: As you fight the natives of Atlantis, Mephisto's Realm, Asgard, the Shi'ar warship, and the Skrull planet (now featuring Galactus), this comes up quite a bit. Hilarious when Thor gets this treatment in Asgard.
Put on a Bus: On the side of heroes, between both games: Doctor Strange, Elektra, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Nightcrawler, Ghost Rider, and Silver Surfer.
Real Men Wear Pink: Deadpool goes to Washington DC for the cherry blossom festival then challenges the player to a boss battle when he sees them laughing at him for it.
Deadpool: And YOU! You think it makes me less of a man if I came here for the Cherry Blossom Festival. You're laughing with your eyes! I can see it! Time for a BOSS BATTLE SUCKERS!
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The DLC for the first game created a team bonus for Friendly Rivalry (The Human Torch & the Thing, Wolverine & Cyclops).
Sadistic Choice: Blackheart forces the player to choose whether Jean Grey or Nightcrawler dies.
The obvious side-choosing in MUA 2; you'll inevitably earn the wrath of either Captain America or Iron Man.
Shoryuken: Iron Man in the first game has a Rocket Uppercut that's very powerful and very fun to use, especially in Atlantis.
Multiple references to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends exist throughout the game including a line of dialogue between Spidey and Firestar (see Mythology Gag above). Another reference to the cartoon occurs when Deadpool complains to the game designers that the game wasn't called Deadpool and his Inferior Friends.
Then there's Deadpool's suggestion that when they find Titanium Man, they should make him say something like "Moose and Squirrel." Hilariously, Titanium Man actually does say "Moose and Squirrel" when you fight him.
Sociopathic Hero: Deadpool ("Alright, who do I kill!"), Venom and the Green Goblin (in an Enemy Mine), Wolverine, the list goes on and on and on.
Some team bonuses feature these characters—Bad to the Bone, Assassins, Rogues Gallery, Unrepentant Killers.
In the second game, judging by the audio cassette of his mind control experiments, Reed Richards approaches this as well.
Storming the Castle: The first act in 2 involves the heroes and Nick Fury storming Castle Doom in Latveria. Next Captain America storms into Prison 42, and the final mission involves storming in one of the Fold towers.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: At one point in the third chapter of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you beat Loki (who's famous for his illusions and trickery) in what seems to be an Anticlimax Boss. Then Nick Fury calls and tells you to collect 4 swords to get the armor Loki was trying to get, even though you would have absolutely no reason to do this. To nobody's surprise, this is a trick by Loki to get the armor. Naturally, you have to do this.
Take a Third Option: Subverted: The Thing, rather than take a side in the Civil War, goes hiding... but when he stumbles upon you later, depending on which side you are playing as, he'll either force himself to register or be appalled by what SHIELD is doing and join the resistance.
And how the Human Torch and Ghost Rider can use their fire powers underwater apparently.
Unique Items: Any items dropped by bosses count as this. There are also slightly more common character-exclusive items, which boost a stat and a certain attack for them. The sequel replaces all this with equipped medals that boost stats for the whole party.
Unstoppable Rage: Wolverine has an exclusive Rage Meter that will send him into a Berserker Mode, changing all of his power attacks.
Villain Protagonist: A character pack in the Xbox 360 version of the first game allowed you to take control of Magneto, Venom, Sabretooth, and even that game's own Big Bad, Dr. Doom. In the second game, half of the Thunderbolts (you know what half) fit the role.
Nick Fury chews out everyone in the second game, after getting this treatment himself at the very beginning. Also, certain conversations allow you to do this as well - with Anti and Pro Reg sides laying into each other for what they've done. Also, after the two sides, the Fantastic Four give this to Reed Richards, who reallydeserves it.
Wolfpack Boss: Wrecking Crew and the evil clone Fantastic Four give you a chance for some four-on-four battles.
Wolverine Publicity: Spider-Man takes center stage on the covers of both games despite having little importance in either story. He, Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine also get lead roles in the first game's cutscenes, to the extent that the intro showing the four of them is called "The Ultimate Alliance".
Worth It: One of the scenes in the MUA 1 ending credits is about Iceman getting knocked out by Spider-Woman's pheromones, and this is his reaction.