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Game Review: “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3” Is a Fun Brawler With Tons of Marvel Flair

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

B

While MUA3 doesn't rewrite the book on what a brawler is, it's incredibly fun and packed with Marvel fan service.

The Good
  • Fantastic art style perfectly suited to the Nintendo Switch
  • Well-written story based on Thanos and the Infinity Stones
  • Massive cast of characters and costumes to unlock
  • Balanced difficulty for new players and hardcore brawler fans
The Bad
  • Camera can be a little finicky in small places
  • Team system is heavily reliant on co-op
  • Missing some popular characters
  • Minor framerate issues in handheld mode

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Sometimes, it’s perfectly acceptable for a game to come out and not trying anything too new. Not every game needs to create a new genre or even make sweeping changes to an existing genre.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a perfect example of this fact. The game is a straight-up brawler that’s filled with fan service for anyone who loves Marvel. It doesn’t do anything all that innovative, and that’s perfectly fine because it does exactly what it sets out to do, and it knocks it out of the park!

Developer Team Ninja combines an interesting take on the Marvel Universe with its trademark brand of fantastic combat and intense gameplay in a game that Marvel fans who own a Nintendo Switch can’t miss.

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The Good

There’s a lot to say on the positive side for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. First, and most importantly for a game in the brawler genre, is the fact that the combat feels really good. Each character in the game feels different enough, but not so different that you can’t get through the fights when you switch.

In MUA3, there’s a great mix of depth and simplicity that’ll appeal to all kinds of players. The basic combat happens with two buttons: Y for a quick attack and X for a strong attack. On the easier difficulty, you can mostly get through the game (with the exception of boss fights) by just mashing the two attacks.

But if you crank up the difficulty, you’ll need to engage with the game’s stun system. Hitting enemies with a strong attack repeatedly will stun them, allowing you to unleash serious damage through synergy attacks with your partners.

The synergy attacks bring us to the other part of the depth in the game—it has some action RPG-like mechanics where each character has its own skills that are learned through leveling up. These skills all feel appropriate for the characters, and using them at the right time can swing a fight with a large group of enemies to your favor.

Speaking of characters, there’s a ton available in the game. Favorites from The Avengers like Thor, Iron Man, and Hawkeye are in the mix. With the initial release, things are a little light in the X-Men department, but beloved characters like Wolverine and Nightcrawler are included, with more coming in the form of DLC down the line. There’s also the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ghost Rider, and plenty of others to discover and unlock as you make your way through the game.

Outside of the playable characters, there are plenty of well-known bad guys in the game like Doctor Octopus, Ultron, Mysterio, Juggernaut, and the list goes on and on.

Each of these boss fights features some interesting mechanics that make them stand out from the others. While fighting waves of thugs as you move through the game’s varied environments is fun, it’s the interesting boss fights that really take this brawler to the next level. As the story progressed and it was clear that a boss fight was on the horizon, I found myself excited each time to see what Team Ninja would come up with this time.

There’s a good deal of depth in the game with the aforementioned RPG mechanics. While you don’t get a lot of choice in terms of what you’re going to level up, having the carrot on a stick of knowing that your beloved Marvel heroes will continue to get stronger will help drive you through the game, which should take you around 12-14 hours to get through.

If you’re a fan of a straight-up brawler and you love the idea of playing with a huge roster of Marvel favorites, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is perfect for you. Add in the portability of playing the game on the Switch, and you truly have a lot to be excited about.

The Bad

The pros certainly outweigh the cons by a huge margin with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, but there are a couple of small drawbacks to note before you spend $60 on the Switch game.

First, if you’re going to play the game exclusively in portable mode (I played about 90-percent of the game on the small screen), you will experience some framerate dips and slowdown. When you’re performing synergy attacks, there are a lot of effects happening on the screen and it does slow down.

Another issue with the game is one that’s quite common with brawlers, and that’s issues with the camera. If you find your character up against a wall or in a small hallway, the camera will often not be able to see the playable character, which can be quite annoying.

On the easy difficulty, this is no big deal as you’re mostly just mashing your way through, but when you need to dodge and block attacks on the harder difficulty, you really can’t afford to lose track of your character.

Thankfully, these issues weren’t too common. They were annoying when they occurred, but I can count the number of times it actually happened on my hands, which isn’t bad for a 13-hour game.

While MUA3 is completely playable alone (the A.I. controlled characters do a good job of fighting alongside you), this game is definitely designed with co-op in mind. The problem is that I often had a hard time finding a room to play with random people, and none of my friends purchased the game. This left me playing through at least 75% of the game solo.

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The Rest

Marvel Ultimate Alliance tells the tale of Thanos and the Infinity Gems, which is definitely a story we’ve seen play out plenty of times in various forms of Marvel media. The reason I’ve mentioned this here instead of as a positive or negative is that the story doesn’t really stand out as good or bad.

Team Ninja takes some fun liberties within the confines of the Marvel Universe and it does a good job of bringing the characters to life, but the story is definitely not what kept me coming back to the game for more.

MUA3 is available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch for $60.

Buy Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on Amazon

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