Game: The Incredible Hulk
Platform: PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, XBox 360 (Reviewed on 360)
The Hulk and I have a tortured history when it comes to gaming. The first time I tried my hand at gamma radiated gaming was with the Sega Genesis’ Incredible Hulk. That’s all I have to say about that. While the Hulk did indeed appear in the Capcom fighting games, the next time he rolled solo was in the Hulk movie tie-in. Who thought anyone would want to play stealth missions as Bruce Banner? Not me. The shining moment in Hulk gaming history came just a few years later when Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction hit shelves. For the first time in ages, we were given our just due in Hulk gaming. When word spread about a next-gen tie in game for the new movie, I’ll admit I was intrigued. Then I put the game in my 360. What could’ve been the best superhero game released this year in theory, ends up being nothing more than a forgettable disaster in execution.
The game is put together similarly to the Spider-Man games. There are movie elements, but there are also extra missions thrown in to make the game last longer. While I’m all for mixing movie scenes with extra battles to keep gamers on their toes, the extra missions in this game are so repetitive and bland you don’t understand why they even bothered to add them in. I wouldn’t even have a problem with them if they offered the least bit of variety, but virtually every mission happens in the same place, with the only difference being the color palate used for the bad guys. Yes, as you progress, there are more difficult enemy encounters. But we’re at a point now where an enemy taking more punches to defeat doesn’t equate higher difficulty. Instead, it does nothing but agitate you the developers don’t think you can handle a challenge.
Everyone knows the Hulk does one thing: Smash. And he does it very well everywhere but in this game. They claim the environment is built for you to destroy. While it’s true you can smash pretty much everything you can see, all the fun is sucked right out of the total carnage by poor animations and terrible use of the Havok physics engine. You’ll never believe this is the same physics engine put to use in Halo 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Bioshock. When I throw a car at a building, there’s no way it should bounce in the complete opposite direction as if the building was made of industrial strength rubber. The same goes for the little army soldiers I throw at one another. If I threw another person at you, the two of you would collide, then fall to the ground. You would absorb all the momentum at the point of impact. Not so much in the world this video game takes place in. Destroying buildings should be fun, but the developers somehow found a way to make it boring and uneventful. Instead of having some cool environmental damage, the same graphic alluding to damage appears on each spot you punch on every building. In fact, the only thing differentiating the buildings are the paint schemes, the amount of ridiculously (and unnecessary) detailed billboards they have, and the amount of punches they take before falling down. And before you all get your hopes up about standing in the rubble of the Empire State Building or Stark Tower, all rubble looks exactly the same, and all the buildings fall down in a completely straight line.
Some of these flaws might be forgiven if the world even remotely looked like it should on a next-gen console. Sadly, the graphics in this game resemble those of PS2 or XBox. The Hulk himself looks rather good. And there are plenty of secret costumes to unlock for all you torture junkies. I even unlocked a Hulkbuster Iron Man costume by having an Iron Man game save. There’s no experience to equal that of playing the Hulk game as Iron Man. Even though the character models you play as look okay, those of the people around you and those featured in cut scenes are downright insulting. When you make a big deal out of getting the actual likenesses of the actors from the film, shouldn’t you at least make them recognizable in the game? Hell, the only reason I knew Ed Norton was Bruce Banner was because I saw the movie. I don’t really want to talk about the horrible draw distance, but I guess I should let you all know how bad it is. It’s bad. Like horrible, even. When I stand atop one of the skyscrapers and look out across the vast horizon, I should be able to see more than just a bunch of grey rectangular shapes scattered about. You can probably see for about a block before it get’s too bad, but the last time I was in New York, I distinctly remember not being able to see anything but vague shapes lining the streets. Of course, I was high on mescaline, but that’s beside the point.
The shame of it is if Sega had just allowed Edge of Reality to copy and paste the formula from Ultimate Destruction, this game would’ve been awesome. Instead, they saw what came before them and trembled at the thought of following it up. Incredible Hulk fails so horribly at replicating the experience of being the Hulk, I almost wish they changed the color palate to purple and released the game as The Incredible Bulk. At least I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.