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The Hulk

An interesting thing happened when I went to see The Hulk movie with Thunderbolt’s own Anthony Karge. We were sitting there, trying to enjoy a bomb of a film, when some Latino guy in front of us took his shirt off in the middle of the movie theater. Anthony and I kept making jokes the entire movie, and he kept turning and laughing with our jokes. What a delightful man. During that same movie, some guy kept coughing and it was really loud and funny. I never laughed harder during a movie, not even one that was good. It was a “hulkingly” good time to sit in the theater, laughing with the shirtless Latino at the guy who was coughing up his lungs than to play The Hulk video game at least.

The Hulk is the story of Dr. Bruce Banner, and his alter-ego, The Hulk. The Hulk is an entity that comes out of him when enraged, and is caused by a freak accident with gamma radiation when Banner was doing research. Because you see, when exposed to gamma radiation, you don’t die or get problems with the workings of your testes, but instead turn into a large beast, complete with a greenish hue and rage issues. However, you only turn into The Hulk when you’re angry, which causes some bizarre progression when translated into the video game world. Basically, the whole point of the game is to rid Banner of the plague that is the Hulk though, which involves Banner doing things like sneak into military buildings to find a cure. You’d think the good Doctor would have more sense.

You see, the game’s levels are set up in the same way. At the beginning of the level, you control Banner, who is weak and can’t fight worth crap, so you have to avoid guards. Taking obvious cues from games like Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid, you have to move boxes and dodge search lights in addition to just avoiding guards. I actually enjoyed these sequences, though the camera could have been a bit more forgiving given the situation that you’re in. Most of the times, you run into a new area with little to no idea what is ahead of you, and that often times leads to you getting seen. The game offers you no control over the movement of the camera at all unless you enter first-person mode, but you can’t move around in this mode, leaving you vulnerable to getting hit from behind.

After fairly short bits of sneaking, you then realize that you totally messed up, become enraged, and then you are The Hulk. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if it wasn’t so predictable. Seriously, the progression of this game is easier to recognize than an albino in Africa. Basically, every time you leave yourself vulnerable, you become The Hulk. Being The Hulk shouldn’t be as bad as it is. Basically, all you do is run, and use the enhanced defensive abilities to escape situations. Actual fighting is basically useless, because enemies continue to come, even after you’ve repeatedly beaten down dozens of them. What’s even worse is the negative image they give the military, making it seem like the military is just willing to lose life after life in an effort to stop a guy that may or may not be a threat…er…well, never mind that, I forgot that just happened.

It’s pretty bad that the worst part of the game is supposed to be the best part. Combat as Hulk is pretty fun at first; there’s nothing quite like picking up a car and throwing it at a group of people, but after a while you start to notice that you’ve been doing the same move over and over again. The Banner portions of the game attempt to add some flavor into an otherwise stale game, but it just isn’t enough. The box of the game says that there are over 40 devastating attacks in the game, but no matter what I did, I only think I saw 10 at the most. Combat is fairly simple and only delegated to three buttons, but when the Hulk gets even angrier than he already is, he’s allowed to do a special attack that allows him to down multiple foes. This is especially helpful in the boss battles, because a majority of them are long, boring, and stupid, and have silly stipulations like you can’t use melee attacks because you’ll get damaged. Of Hulk’s moves, the one that doesn’t make sense the most is the ability for the Hulk to use some sort of magic by clapping his hands together. Isn’t this the guy who could pick up cars and stuff? Why does he need magic? And why is there a group of three blue enemies who look strikingly similar to the Blue Man Group?

The graphics are fairly solid though, but apparently Vivendi Universal didn’t realize that people actually want gameplay with their graphics. In a bit of cel-shading magic, VU was able to take a cel-shaded look into 3D, complete with pastel coloring that looks pretty crummy at first but does a spectacular job at making the game more like a comic book. There is some slowdown here and there, but overall they’re pretty good. It’s too damned bad that they wasted such a good graphics engine on a game with so much repetition though. Dozens of times, you’ll swear you’ve gone through the same area before. There’s one portion in the game where you have to jump from building to building, and it’s in this area that you notice the repetitive level design (and enemy models for that matter) repeating over and over.

The audio in The Hulk is fairly solid as well. The team at VU was able to secure the devilish Eric Bana to do the voice over for Hulk, who is also the star of the motion picture. The other voice talent featured in the game is equally superb. The music is pretty average, but most of the time you don’t even notice it’s happening. The complete lack of subtitles actually hurts the game though. Because of the heavy emphasis on the sound effects, often times during hectic scenes, you can’t hear the dialogue. Too bad VU hates deaf people.

Overall, there’s just too much wrong with this game to make it worth a purchase. It’s boring and repetitive, and while that may work for some action games, it really doesn’t for The Hulk. There’s just too little to make this worth a full priced purchase. If you really want to play it, rent it at your own risk, but for the rest of you, avoid it and pick up Enter The Matrix or Wolverine’s Revenge to get your movie license thrills.

4 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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