Is The New Hulk Game Incredible Or Will It Just Make You Angry?

June 23, 2008


Loosely based on the new film in theaters, The Incredible Hulk continues the partnership between Sega and Marvel that brought players Iron Man in May. At a glance, Sega’s green monster bears a strong resemblance to Vivendi’s acclaimed Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, featuring an open world design with plenty of buildings to smash and cars to weaponize. But does the latest title muscle past the last-gen hit, or is this one game that should make Hulk angry?After a brief battle in a Brazilian industrial complex, the Hulk is unleashed on Midtown Manhattan. From here, you’re free to scale buildings, wreak havoc on the streets, and tackle various objectives.

A quick glance at the map will show your current objectives. There are purple Enclave bases to smash, yellow mini-game icons, and key missions. Key missions are broken into multiple chapters, letting you bounce between two or three conflicts at a time. Unfortunately, awkward transitions and loading screens before and after each mission ruin the city’s sense of continuity. Another annoyance is that your choices alternate between plenty to famine since missions are unlocked in waves. You can’t unlock new missions and side-quests without finishing all of your current conflicts first.

When you aren’t engaged in missions, you can scrounge the city to find hidden goods. Just don’t expect much help from the game’s subway system early on – you have to find each station on foot first. Tearing down landmarks like Madison Square Garden or Trump Tower earn you collectible tokens. Jump rings test your skills atop the tallest structures, and items to boost your health and rage meters are hidden in nooks and crannies throughout the city. As in other Marvel games, fifteen comic book covers are stashed away in the city, but you’ll have to complete specific missions before each one will show up in its hiding place – so get ready to retread old ground looking for them.

The Incredible Hulk does feature a list of fun challenges called feats which you can tackle to unlock new attacks, improve mobility, and earn secret costumes. They include climbing the five highest skyscrapers, throwing a few cars into buildings, or simply running five miles. If you’re unlucky enough to have an Iron Man save file, you can unlock the Hulkbuster costume right off the bat. The extra costumes don’t amount to more than alternate paint jobs, but accomplishing the feats is fun in itself.

There’s a fair amount of content buried deep in the city’s underbelly, but the stilted pacing often leaves the world feeling empty and a bit too linear.

Punching, smashing, and tossing are what Hulk does best, and the game offers you plenty of chances to level buildings, uproot trees, and throw citizens to your heart’s content.

Bare-fisted, Hulk’s moves are pretty basic, but you can use nearly anything as a weapon. Rip out a section of concrete to use as a shield. Swing a light post like a baseball bat. Tear a bus into a pair of steel boxing gloves, or leave a wake of destruction simply by running down the street. However, destruction comes far too easy. Tossing a pedestrian can blow up multiple cars or a whole line of trees, and poor collision detection causes some objects to shatter to pieces as Hulk simply runs near them.

Intentional or not, causing wanton destruction builds your rage meter, giving you access to healing moves and powerful special attacks. But it also raises your threat level, bringing soldiers, armored vehicles, and mechanized troops to stop your unnatural disasters. You can fight them off for a while, but the troops will keep coming and often cause more damage to the city, raising the threat level even higher. So you’ll need to find somewhere to lie low until the alerts clear.

Missions don’t offer much in the way of variety, usually consisting of running from point to point to destroy army bases or dismantle various types of bombs. One of the more creative missions has you causing just enough destruction to draw attention from news helicopters and then luring them to an enemy base. From time to time, you’ll also encounter other Hulk enemies like the U-Foes, but defeating them can be as simple as waiting for them to get dazed so you can charge in for cheap hits.

The mini-games scattered throughout the city can be more fun than the missions at times. Some are as simple as racing through a path of rings or destroying 25 vehicles as fast as possible, but others can get a little crazier. One has you taking on cab fares, carrying as many taxis to their destinations as you can, while another tests your jumping skills by having you bound across collapsing rooftops.

Dragging The Incredible Hulk down more than anything is the awful presentation. The Hulk himself look good, and the streets are passable at the ground level, but climb a building and you’ll be treated to one of the ugliest skylines this side of the N64. Everything further than a few blocks away becomes a muddy silhouette, and at night, the buildings take on a dirty brown hue. Similarly, cars and buses turn into transparent gray shells when you pick them up, taking away the charm of using them as weapons.

Some things in the game just don’t look right -- imagine an army base plunked in the middle of a busy street. You’ll also find places on the map where Hulk’s body stands halfway below ground. Even when there isn’t a glaring flaw, the game just looks bland in general. Cut-scenes don’t look too bad, but many are so brief that you’ll likely miss them if you look away.

It’s fun to run around as the Hulk in an open world, harassing pedestrians and tearing the city apart with your bare hands, but with its uneven pacing, dull missions, and sloppy presentation, The Incredible Hulk won’t keep most players interested for long. If you still want to Hulk out in a video game, last generation’s Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is still your best bet.