Superhero and cartoon characters have become integral parts of the electronic entertainment industry. With this in mind, I salute the meld of pop-culture character and video game with a look at some
Comics plugged in
Marvel Comics’ Green Goliath smashes his way into video-game consoles with The Incredible Hulk (for Xbox 360, rated T for teen, $59.99). Sega gives one player the power to control the rampaging monster as he dismantles New York City, batting an assortment of heavily armed enemies and puny humans.
What’s the story? Paraphrased from the game manual: Cursed to contain the rampaging monster within him known as the Hulk, scientist Bruce Banner is living in the shadows, scouring the planet for an antidote to the gamma radiation infection. However, the warmongers who dream of abusing his powers won’t leave him alone, nor will his need to be with the woman he loves, Betty Ross.
Upon returning to civilization, Banner is pursued ruthlessly by the Army and, with the help of Rick Jones, must call upon the hero within to rescue New York City from total destruction.
Characters’ character: The player will feel he is handling an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction as he crushes first with no reason to ask why.
Within the free-roaming action, a weak story is based partly on the movie (with weaker voice-over work by many of the film’s stars) and partly on protecting the city from the Enclave, an army created by evil scientists. The narrative ultimately ends in a massive confrontation with the Abomination.
As the Hulk jumps, runs and climbs around 50 famous landmarks in Manhattan, he encounters color-coded missions under the genres of search and find, races, timed destruction and minigames.
He also battles a few superstars along the way, such as the forgettable U-Foes (check Incredible Hulk No. 254) and soldiers wearing Star Industries’ Hulkbuster armor.
A common set of superpowers known to Hulk fans enables the misunderstood hero to perform a bevy of moves for the highlight reel. He can lift a bus over his head to protect himself from helicopter fire, then toss it at the aircraft. He can climb a skyscraper as he punches his fist into the building’s sides.
He can transform a tank into a mace. He can rip a giant taco off the top of a food delivery truck and embed it into the side of a building. Uncharacteristically, the big guy even can use the subway to get around town.
A clever trick, also seen in the movie, has him break a truck in half and use the pieces as metal boxing gloves.
My favorite part of the game is the ability to unlock and play alternate versions of the Hulk. Available personas, plucked from the comic-book world, include Gray Hulk (an amalgam of Jack Kirby and Todd McFarlane designs), Mr. Fixit (writer Peter David’s lovable Las Vegas enforcer) and Maestro (a futuristic, older and intelligent Hulk also created by Mr. David).
Players also will find comic-book covers to appreciate the character’s humble roots as well as other collectibles to extend the game.
How would Lt. Frank Drebin fare?A simple combination of buttons can unleash a torrent of hurt upon foes, drop ships and fortresses. The Hulk eventually can use his famed thunderclap, pounding the ground with rumbling results, grab almost anything to use as a weapon and perform supersmashing jumps on command.
Parental blood-pressure meter: 150/90, elevated because of a body count of Army Special Forces and innocent bystanders that will rise faster than Hulk’s rage. The big, very awkward guy can’t help but accidentally and intentionally make a mess. Of course, it’s a very explosive, non-bloody type of mess.
Read all about it? Marvel Publishing has chronicled the life of the Hulk since 1962. My suggestion for a mindless bit of action-packed reading (similar to the game) is the trade paperback “World War Hulk” ($24.99). It collects a five-part miniseries from last year and overloads with Banner’s alter ego challenging a who’s who of heroes.
What’s it worth? Although it’s really a watered-down version of Vivendi Universal’s 2005 Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, the game still has a frenetic enough pace to satisfy any Hulk fan. The character looks and moves great as he delivers a stress-relieving experience for the player.
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A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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