The Incredible Hulk
If there’s one thing that is certain to strike fear into the hearts of gamers it’s movie tie-ins. Making a game based on 90 minutes of footage is never going to be easy and the task is made even harder with a small time frame and strict deadlines. There have been some success stories like Spiderman 2, but there have also been abominations, which seem to be little more than a shameful attempt to extract more cash from the unknowing public.
The Incredible Hulk falls somewhere in between the two; it’s by no means a great game, but neither is it the next Charlie’s Angels. Playing like a mix between the aforementioned Spiderman 2 and classic Smash ‘Em-up Rampage it’s clear that The Incredible Hulk has prospects. The ability to roam New York City and bulldoze your way through everything from park benches to the Empire State building is undeniably fun, but when it makes up the entire game, can it stay fresh enough to warn off repetition?
Starting In Brazil, before moving onto New York City, the game uses both the film and comics as inspiration. There are a number of super villains in the area and it’s The Hulk’s job to stop them, whilst at the same time avoiding capture from the US Military. If you’re unfamiliar with either the film or comics, you’ll be wondering what is happening, as characters and locations are quickly introduced without any apparent reason. Missions are broken down into several parts and you can dip into various story arcs as you see fit. The length of the sub-missions are relatively short lasting just a few minutes, but are repetitive consisting of little more than going from point A to point B, bashing you way through buildings and enemies until nothing is left. What makes it worse is that the enemy AI isn’t up to much either, with the increased difficulty coming from stronger opponents and higher numbers of enemies. Still it’s more than can be said for the citizens of New York, who seem to be totally unaware of what terrible atrocities that are happening in their city. Most seem content with walking around avoiding flying cars and merrily walk through toxic gas unaffected.
When not saving New York City, you’re free to destroy it, and not all of the time will it be intentional. Due to the size, power and apparent force-field that surrounds The Hulk, even a peaceful walk down the street causes destruction, leaving crumbling buildings, fallen lamp posts and squashed vehicles in your wake. Cause too much mayhem and you’ll attract the attention of the military that’ll try to take you down, which causes more destruction, and thus more military attention. It’s a vicious circle that can only really be stopped by jumping down into a subway station or by starting a new mission. It’s not all that bad though, as everything you do is recorded and goes towards some feat, such as climbing the five tallest buildings in the city, stick 25 cars to the side of a building or jump across Manhattan. Accomplishing these feats go towards unlocking more powerful attacks, and alternative characters.
As with any good movie tie-in, the film’s actors voice the characters. In this case it seems they shouldn’t have bothered. All the characters, including the films lead Edward Norton sounded so bored and unemotional, that the only way I would be less interested in the story was if it were portrayed through the medium of dance.
To make matters worse the game suffers from many glitches and bugs; for instance whilst demolishing my way through columns holding up the freeway, I was surprised, although admittedly amused to see a section of the road floating mid air. There were also occasions when characters were flung around like pinballs, bouncing off and around their surroundings. Nowhere was this more apparent when The Hulk jumps into water, where he is thrown back onto land, often resulting in strange goings on. The worst bug however is the terrible pop up, with many objects appearing mere feet away out of thin air, it’s quite distracting and will obviously get annoying when you can’t see the enemies who are attacking you.
The Incredible Hulk is an enjoyable experience that has been let down by bugs and glitches. If it had longer in development to iron them out then this would be a significantly better game. As it stands it’s a flawed and repetitive single player experience, that will only keep Hulk fans and those looking to relive some classic Rampage action happy.