I was very dismayed to see that Activision had out-Activisioned itself when it came to the re-release of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 on current-gen. I LIVED for those games back in the day, top-down gems that featured a host of Marvel heroes and villains as they traversed from level to level beating stuff up. If the re-releases didn’t come with a host of bugs – and weren’t ridiculously overpriced – then I’d have two more titles in my library.
Lucky for me, then, that the free-to-play Marvel Heroes Omega wasn’t too far behind.
Omega is the console version of the PC MMO Marvel Heroes, as developed by Gazillion. While it features the top-down look and feel of Ultimate Alliance, it tends to mimic Diablo in terms of gameplay. Players will purchase Marvel heroes – either through in-game or real-world currency – and level them up individually, eventually gaining access to use eight powers at once. Character abilities are as diverse as the heroes that possess them – Iceman, for instance, has several freezing area of effect (AoE) powers, while Nova tends to have a bunch of laser beams.
Each of your controller’s four face buttons activate a single power, while holding down the left trigger and using a face button will use an alternate power. At level 10, a character also gains access to a special traversal power which makes speeding along a map a real joy; that’s accessible with the right trigger. Characters can be levelled to level 60, gaining access to Legendary item access and linked powers along the way. As with Diablo, the goal is really to power-up characters and then head to endgame events.
While players can go it alone, it’s best to tackle high-level dungeons in a group; Omega lets two players adventure together via couch-coop, or players can use their console’s Party system to find their version of the X-Men or Avengers. The Party system is admittedly rough, difficulty to converse with your team if you’re not already friends, but it gets the job done.
A huge downside, sadly, on the two-player couch co-op is that the second player will be accessing the first’s characters and account. While this is great for the primary player – you can essentially level two characters at once – there’s not much incentive for the second player.
Each character has his or her own story mode, a series of chapters that follow the same general beats. As with most Marvel crises, a baddie has the Cosmic Cube and has unleashed an army of other baddies into the world. Your mission is simple: stop ‘em. While it’s not a ground-breaking affair, the story provides incentive to take your many characters through the ordeal.
An MMO, things aren’t incredibly detailed, but they’re still pretty to look at. When many characters are on-screen, you’re going to notice a drop in frames; this type of scenario also rears its ugly head when speeding through a hub world – sometimes, it can’t load as fast as you’re travelling. Otherwise, things are relatively smooth when you’re in an actual dungeon.
The best part about Marvel Heroes Omega is that it’s free-to-play and relatively easy to unlock new characters without throwing money at your screen. A fair and rewarding in-game currency system is in play, making it easy to try a new character after you’ve maxed the one you’re maining. Other items, like cosmetic costumes – Spider-Man’s Homecoming outfit, for one – can be purchased with your hard earned if you’re so inclined.
Action, adventure, variety — those looking for a decent Ultimate Alliance fix need look no further than Marvel Heroes Omega. It’s great.
Note: As reader Adam rightfully points out, Marvel Heroes Omega isn’t yet available on Australian storefronts. The game can still be obtained by switching to the USA region on Xbox One, or using a USA-based PlayStation account on PS4.
Marvel Heroes Omega was reviewed using a retail code on Xbox One. Additional character packs were provided by the publisher in order to try a range of heroes. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.