"The Incredible Hulk"
Reviewed for: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
Other versions available for: Nintendo Wii,
Playstation 2, PC, Nintendo DS
From: Edge of Reality/Sega
ESRB Rating: Teen (mild language, mild
By Billy O'Keefe
Someone sure enjoyed "Hulk: Ultimate Destruction" when it released three years ago. That someone's name? Edge of Reality, which delivers a product that, depending on your level of cynicism, either pays major homage to "Destruction" or rips it off wholesale.
In fairness, at this point, "The Incredible Hulk's" design seems inevitable with or without "Destruction's" influence. Open-world superhero games are as increasingly commonplace as the technology that makes them possible, and the only satisfactory way to demonstrate the full might of Hulk's might is to set him loose in New York City, to which "Hulk" hands you the keys. No one could fault Edge of Reality for taking "Destruction's" playbook as long as it improved on it in some fashion.
In one big way - full, unbridled destructibility - without exception it does. No structure in "Hulk" is so sacred that it cannot be smashed completely to rubble, and the game even rewards players who can destroy and recover tokens from the 50 most prominent real-life landmarks within range. (The Statue of Liberty, for those wondering, falls outside that range.)
The effect of multiple buildings simultaneously crashing to dust around you is impressive, particularly when it incidentally happens as a byproduct of whatever other damage you're dealing. It also gives "Hulk" the hook it needs to stand out from other superhero games.
Elsewhere, the progress ranges from unimpressive to non-existent. "Hulk's" missions suffer from acceptable but undeniable levels of repetition, and you're almost constantly doing some variation of the same four or so tasks. Boss fights, particularly toward the game's climax, are disappointingly mindless. Hulk's attack arsenal, while sufficient, is less impressive than it was in "Destruction." Ties to the "Hulk" film do little to prop up the game's dull storyline, and the graphics are a strange mix of good (Hulk), mostly good (New York, which looks nice but suffers from a ton of minor visual glitches) and puzzlingly bad (the mid-mission cut-scenes, which inexplicably look leagues worse than the actual game).
Ultimately, though, "Hulk" produces the good time Sega's "Iron Man" game teased but couldn't deliver, dishing plenty of mayhem for those in search of a quick fix and a healthy bounty of bonus gameplay for completists with an appetite for side challenges and unlockables. It's not quite the evolution "Destruction" fanatics probably hoped for, but for a game that clearly had to be rushed out the door to meet a synergetic deadline, it evokes enough of that game's spirit to get by.
(c) 2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.