Ah, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel’s destructively bi-polar smashing machine, is back. Continuing from 2005’s Ultimate Destruction, SEGA’s latest foray into superhero adventures is at least better than Iron Man and yet guilty of similar crimes, principally the omnipresent notion that once again we have a game not quite ready for the shelves but tied to a deadline set by the major motion picture.
You see, whilst Hulk (as we’ll shorten it to) is a serviceable attempt at a comic-book bastardisation of GTA and Crackdown, it smacks of cribbing rather than imitation, and whilst the open world is a reasonably impressive rendition of Stan Lee’s Manhattan the details are absent, there’s little to do outside of the main story arc and it’s actually difficult to relate to Banner’s alter ego when you’re asked to perform tasks that appear to be diametrically opposing.
For example: Save The City – not a problem – and if the encroaching armies are enough to convince us to not smash up buildings then we’ll happy try to keep the skyscrapers routed on the ground. But why, then, do we need to destroy said structures to find the hidden Landmark Tokens? Similarly, other secret pick-ups that enhance Hulk’s vital statistics can be stashed in the most obscure locations but often aren’t signposted nearly enough. Think GTA’s pigeons, although at least these can be useful and don’t require an AK-47.
Visually there are some problems: Hulk aside everything is knowingly last-gen, with close-up cut-scenes featuring abysmal lip-syncing and dodgy modeling. Edge of Reality’s Manhattan streams effectively and is technically proficient enough to not repel, but the frame rate slides back and forth, the animation is buggy and inconsistent and there’s little variety to the locations. Frequent loading screens pepper the action too, bizarrely splicing up even the smallest of missions jarring the player from any sense of involvement.
In terms of audio, despite voice work from the movie’s main stars (including Edward Norton and Tim Roth) the storytelling and script work is risible and you can’t help shake the feeling that the actors were contractually obliged to work on the game.
There’s still enjoyment to be had here, though. Hulk himself is well animated and controls just fine, his trademark agility and physical combat present and correct, and the player can interact with almost everything visible, including swinging taxis around his head and causing havoc with lamp posts as you make your way through the storyline. Whilst the main story and minigames can be dull at times, the constant upgrading of abilities and rewarding achievement-style Feats mean that there’s always something new to do.
It’s not a technical showcase by any means, but The Incredible Hulk is a decent enough game for Marvel fans and we can’t deny that we had some fun with the physics; Hulk’s later powers can be devastating. But when you’ve leveled the same building five times and caused 10 car pile-ups the fun wears thin. Another few months on building around the wafer-thin story and tidying up the graphics would have worked wonders – as it is, this is one for Hulk fans only, who will surely get the most out of this game.