So Roll on another summer blockbuster licensed game. Although Hulk comes with the anomaly of being released before the film. Developer Radical must have received a hefty bonus for getting it done in time; but then it's not as if they broke their backs on this one. After my last encounter with comic book hero, the talentless act of vandalism that was Wolverine's Revenge, Hulk comes across as a highly-polished title. But the truth is that this is a very simple and repetitive action game.
The Hulk has never been about brains, but even for a smash 'em up game, what passes as a plot is almost insulting. You start off being attacked by the army in the middle of the desert, then as Bruce Banner you break into a research lab, see another scientist get hulked up with gamma rays and then spend the rest of the game chasing him and swatting soldiers left, right and centre.
It's Not Easy Being Green
The few moments you don't spend pounding them to a pulp are when you control Bruce in a stealthy, sub-Metal Gear mode, that is just too dull to work. Sadly, these sections are so signposted they feel like tutorials: hiding places, levers and computer terminals are highlighted with big green arrows, just in case you're too stupid to figure out what to do.
For all the lack of depth in the gameplay, there is something undoubtedly cool about controlling this huge beast. You can pick up cars and throw them at helicopters, smash the ground to cause shockwaves, throw people across the room, jump high in the air and send out beams of gamma radiation.
But it gets boring very quickly, partly because the enemies hardly change at all, and partly because the plain cardboard box environments make it less thrilling to demolish everything in sight.
Then there are the two problems that seem to hound every console game slapped on to a PC. First, the camera rarely points in the direction you want it to and, though you can see things through a useless first-person perspective, you have no control over the third-person view. Secondly, you shouldn't even consider playing this unless you have a decent joypad. There's no mouse support and trying to control the Hulk with a keyboard is a waste of time. But then, it's not as if they needed a quality game to shift copies.
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The Hulk does a marvelous job capturing this dark hero's destructive essence. Every completely interactive smash-em-up level is packed with cars, pipes, and concrete slabs you can use to carve swaths of carnage through General Ryker's cronies. And considering the game might've sold well even if punching were the extent of its pissed-off protagonist's talents, being able to toss oil tankers through research center walls is a welcome break. Furthermore, you're rarely forced to fight every lackey who irritates you, and by ignoring them, you'll reach your objectives faster (not that some of you won't want to pulverize the saps). Such features aren't exactly awe-inspiring, but they keep the Green Goliath's rampage fast-paced and satisfyingly furious. Sadly, when the Hulk transforms back into mild-mannered Bruce Banner, the game takes a turn for the insipid. If you've crept across compounds as Solid Snake or Sam Fisher, Dr. Banner's game of hide-and-seek will bore you. And avoiding detection is a crapshoot--I've been spotted from 20 yards by guards with their backs turned, but strolled right under others' noses. The boss battles, too, seem to borrow a page from the messy showdowns that spoiled X2: Wolverine's Revenge (EGMU168). They're so infuriatingly cheap, you'll want to Hulk-smash your controller. Try renting if, unlike me, you can control your temper.
Like Bruce Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk is a game with a split personality. It's a visually cool ride (especially when you're destroying stuff) with an excellent cinematic feel and decent brawling control. But after the first few bits as the infamous jolly green giant, it's just wave after wave of the same guards, inexplicably large dogs, and not a whole lot of variety. Like Shawn, I found that you're better off running past the never-ending enemy hordes than gambling your remaining lives by staying to fight. The Banner bits break it up with some light stealth and move the story along, but the package never quite comes together into a cohesive whole. Give it a rental after you see the flick, but it's a keeper only for serious Hulk-heads.
It's tough to create compelling gameplay around a giant freak whose gig is just smashing the hell out of things, but The Hulk succeeds and is the best pure punch/kick beat-em-up since Final Fight. I love all the game's pickups--nothing beats repeatedly whapping away at soldiers with a forklift or taking out gamma dogs by hurling frozen cow carcasses their way. Plus, everything moves just as it should, thanks to an incredible physics engine. Special moves are quite limited, though, and it's a bit ironic that the break-from-the-norm Bruce Banner stealth missions serve only to drag the action down. I wouldn't call this Hulk quite incredible, but it is a smashing good time.
No longer just a supporting member in the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, the Hulk gets top billing at the box office and on your consoles this summer. In this game set one year after the film, the Hulk's nemesis, The Leader, plots to destroy Earth by creating an army of gamma-irradiated creatures, forcing the not-so-mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner to unleash the greener side of his personality. In some levels, you'll play as the less-confrontational Banner (voiced by the film's star, Eric Bana) and use stealth to complete the mission at hand. As the Hulk, you'll let loose on hordes of military personnel, destroy buildings like they're made from papier mache, and prove once and for all who's the strongest one there is.
There have been various Hulk games released in the past that have left much to be desired or were just plain horrible. With all the hype surrounding the theatrical release of the Hulk, however, there was at least a shred of hope that this latest Hulk attempt would be able to accurately portray The Hulk as the beast he is. Even though getting all that aggression and power characterized isn't an easy task, this game does manage to grab the essence of The Hulk in a way other games have missed.
The Hulk is an action game where the plot line follows a unique, well-designed story that's different from the movie. You'll be engaging enemies such as Ravage, Madman, Flux, and Half-Life while completing missions as either Bruce Banner or The Hulk. Although the Bruce Banner missions can be tedious as he is usually trying to sneak into a building undetected, The Hulk missions more than make up for it. As The Hulk, you'll be able to destroy or cause damage to almost anything in your path with a sense of power and mass that appears realistic. Cement pillars, cars, tanks, and even trains are all the things that are easily demolished when in the path of The Hulk.
You'll also have a variety of different attacks at your disposal, allowing flexibility in your attacking style while not overcomplicating the control system. Most will be pleasantly surprised at how well The Hulk responds to the controls as maneuvering and using The Hulk's numerous attacks can be accomplished with ease.
The graphics however aren't cutting edge, but are above average with detailed textures and character models. The physics engine is also done well and even though he appears to defy gravity, the objects he's using sure don't. The audio is similar to the graphics but do offer a few perks such as 5.1 Dolby Digital options and voiceovers from Eric Bana who plays Bruce Banner in The Hulk movie. Other sound effects are appropriate and add to the experience without distracting from it.
Although this is by far the best Hulk game released, those who aren't fans of The Hulk or are looking for some innovative new gameplay aspect probably won't be impressed. The Hulk is a standard action game with missions that generally revolve around The Hulk destroying anything or anyone it his path or Banner sneaking into some facility. To be fair, there are a few simple puzzles to solve but nothing that is going to cause any great deal of thought. For Hulk fans however, destroying things on The Hulk missions will make up for its other shortcomings.
While at first glance, it may seem that The Incredible Hulk is the perfect comic book hero to be translated into a video game, the reality is far so simple. Empowered by gamma radiation, and possessed of limitless rage and strength, the Hulk, His Big Greenness, is so simple a character as to generally make for a mildly tedious game. Set a year after the events from the film, which as of the writing of this review is still a good two weeks away, Bruce Banner is set against a force no less terrible than the Leader himself, a similarly gamma powered mutant, this time possessed of a tremendously large brain and psychic powers. Focusing on missions that alternate your Hulk and Banner forms, this game was kneecapped before it had a chance to get off of the ground.
First, it requires no less than three solid hits for the hulk to incapacitate a simple human being. Second, even on a moderate difficulty, the game is incredibly challenging, having only simple controls, but being aggravatingly tough at times. Third' let's stop with the points, we'll probably hit the double digits anyhow.
The Hulk is a brutish thug who runs around smashing things. A great deal of the environment can be destroyed, and nearly any debris can be picked up and hurled as a weapon. Banner himself is much less equipped, being able to get into hand to hand combat with guards just long enough to hulk out. However, where this gameplay fails is that it doesn't feature any innovation at all. Health bars, rage meter, it's all the same stuff we've seen before, the same sort of game that requires a multitude of powerups spread throughout the game. Add to this the fact that you can't hulk out in most levels where you play Banner (lest you blow your cover or destroy something important) and it really does a disservice to what this game could've been.
However, as film games go, it isn't that terrible, and can keep you occupied for a good four hours or so (it's shorter if you use cheats). It features a multitude of cheat codes, and even has challenge levels that are mildly entertaining. In some ways, the game seems to be more a vehicle for advertising the film, as many of the special features are shots or clips from the movie, or behind the scenes footage. Finally, in what is perhaps the best 'extra' I've yet seen, a special cheat code can unlock the gray hulk, which in true gray hulk style, cracks wise at every opportunity, laying his opponents down with his special brand of verbal abuse.
All in all, this game would make a good rental, but that's about it.