The story of the Hulk, Marvel Comic's big green superhero, may have depth and complexity with the whole Bruce Banner/Hulk as id versus ego thing, but let's face it, there are really three main reasons why he's so popular. He's big, near indestructible, and can pick up tanks with his bare hands. How cool is that?
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction thankfully leaves the angst with Ang Lee's film adaptation of a few years back to concentrate instead on the Hulk's violent tendencies. Not since Spider-Man 2 has a game so wonderfully captured what it's like to be a superhero, with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allowing gamers to really slip into the Hulk's tight denim shorts -- figuratively speaking, of course.
Want to pick up a car and throw it at some soldiers? Ultimate Destruction easily allows you to. Want to use a bus as a shield against incoming missiles? Go ahead and do it. Want to run up buildings, jump onto attacking helicopters, swat down missiles, use street poles as javelins or discus throw a tank? All of these methods of mayhem and much more are available to you as the Hulk.
But despite the wealth of moves, the game keeps control fairly simple, meaning even the most complex string of attacks and evasions can be easily executed with only a little practice. It's this ease of control that really adds to the game's enjoyment -- you feel like you can do anything in the wide open levels, and in many cases you actually can.
Initially, the Hulk only has a limited number of moves available. X is for a standard attacks, Y for power hits, A for jump and B is to grab/throw objects. Holding down the L trigger targets an enemy, while holding down R trigger makes the Hulk run (forward as well as up buildings). Destroying objects and defeating enemies earn you Hulk points, which can be used to buy new moves and attacks. There are literally dozens of moves that can be purchased, such as new combo attacks, new abilities (like being able to throw a tank or pick up cars while on the run) or upgrades to health and power. Some of these new moves are a joy to use and really showcase the big green guy's power -- our favourite is a ground smash that sends a gigantic seismic shockwave that destroys everything on screen.
The Hulk can also 'weaponise' certain objects in the game. Small cars, for example, can be split apart and used as steel fists, while large vehicles like buses can be squashed down and used as shields against incoming fire.
Just like Spider-Man 2, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction features large open levels for players to wreak their devastation, such as a bustling city and a desert (complete with small town and military base). Missions are scattered throughout the level -- story missions progress the game's plot, while the many optional challenge missions require the Hulk to perform certain tasks for Hulk points. These challenges can range from simple checkpoint races, to more innovative games such as kicking cars through goalposts.
The Hulk's many superpowered moves coupled with the open, interactive environments makes for some truly impressive showdowns. Battles can take place at ground level, quickly shift to the tops of buildings, involve cars or street lights (or even puny humans) as missiles, and much more -- the possibilities are exhaustive.
The Hulk may be strong and capable of extraordinary things, but it doesn't make the game easy. The enemy AI can be particularly aggressive, and it's not uncommon to have the Hulk surrounded by scores of tanks and missile launchers that can quickly deplete his health. Some story missions themselves can be particularly frustrating, particularly those requiring the Hulk to protect a building or chase down and destroy a convoy. The opposition usually gets pretty fierce in these missions, and you'll need skill to make sure the Hulkster is moving at all times.
The graphics in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction aren't jaw-dropping, but it impresses none the less thanks to the sheer amount of things happening on screen at once. The game features some impressive effects when it comes to explosions and area damage -- there's also plenty of nice touches, such as the small impact craters the Hulk makes everytime he lands from a jump -- that all add towards the excellent presentation. Sound is appropriately meaty and loud, and all the crunches, explosions and booms the Hulk makes as he destroys his surroundings are excellently produced.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is a top notch action game that successfully captures the essence of its title character. Minor AI issues aside, it's an excellent choice if wholesale destruction is your cup of tea.
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