Exclusive: Matthew Paul on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

This November, Activision will launch Marvel: Ultimate Alliance on PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PS2, Xbox, PC, PSP and GBA. The all-new action/RPG features the largest roster of comic book characters ever seen in a video game. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance features a deep, rich gameplay experience by offering total team customization, where players create their own team name, icon and vehicle, as well as establish their team reputation as they play throughout the story. Gamers also have the option to level up each character individually to their liking, or all team members at the same time to keep their heroes balanced. With the game’s new combat system, players battle against the world’s most notorious Marvel Super Villains in the air, underwater, and on the ground, using grappling, blocking and dodging moves, by charging up their superhero powers before unleashing them, and using environmental objects as one and two-handed weapons.

Superhero Hype! caught up with Activision Producer Matthew Paul recently to talk about the anticipated game:

Superhero Hype!: “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” has the largest roster of Marvel superhero characters ever in a videogame. Can you let us know how many characters are in the game and how many are playable?

Matthew Paul: In “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance,” there are over 140 total characters in the game and more than 20 playable Super Heroes. Each of the playable characters also has at least four different costumes and that’s not included in the numbers above. So, I think it goes without saying that there is a huge amount of variety in the game.

SHH!: Who are the favorite characters to use around the office? Do people stick with the big names like Spidey and Captain America or are there some surprising favorites?

Paul: Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine are of course big favorites. I think that everyone thinks they always have the best character regardless of who it is, because you are able to make the characters your own. I usually pick Ghost Rider, but Human Torch is my alternate for certain situations that require flying. Dr. Strange is also really cool and has some awesome powers.

SHH!: Our audience is REALLY into comics, can you tell them how you came up with a story that features so many characters from different Marvel worlds?

Paul: Actually, the core of the story for “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” wasn’t that hard because of the number of good heroes, villains and moments in the Marvel universe. The hardest part was trying to pick all the best parts and fit them into a story that we could finish in our lifetime! The story is a combination of the basic plots of Secret Wars and the new Secret War and major comic book moments in Super Heroes’ individual stories. We then placed all of that within a few great environments that will be familiar to every Marvel fan. We even had Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski help us craft the story so that it stayed true to the Marvel canon. It’s been a real fun, but grueling process keeping everything straight, but at the end of the day we’re sure fans won’t be let down.

SHH!: So what’s the story of the game? We’ve seen a little about Dr. Doom and Galactus, but what’s the overall reason for all of these heroes to come together? Is it something big?

Paul: Well, if you watch our opening cinematic, the heroes learn that Dr. Doom is attacking Nick Fury’s helicarrier. Fury calls in the heroes to help him defeat Doom but they soon learn that Doom has a secret motive for attacking the helicarrier. The heroes then have to search for the reasons behind Doom’s attack, which begins this epic quest. I can’t give out more information than that or I start giving away all the plot twists. Uh oh…did somebody say plot twists…I think so.

SHH!: How are you using the power of the next-generation consoles to bring these Marvel characters to life?

Paul: It was our goal from the very beginning to use the capabilities of the next-generation to add life-like details to the characters in “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.” When you look at Captain America, you can see the chain mesh in his costume. Or for the Thing, his body really looks like weathered stone and rock. The details also come out in the environments and in the Super Hero powers. At times, you feel more like you’re watching a blockbuster Super Hero movie as opposed to a video game because it looks so real.

SHH!: How different will the Wii version be compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions?

Paul: The Wii contains much of the great content found in the PS3 and Xbox 360, but it also has a unique set of controls that are both intuitive to use and make you feel like a hero yourself. We’ve added icons to the game to teach the player how to use the controls, and for most people, “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” will just be pick up and play.

SHH!: Online play was a great addition to “X-Men Legends II.” What are you adding to the online play of “Ultimate Alliance” to keep fans up late at night?

Paul: You can play “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” from beginning to end with up to four players. However, we’ve gone a few steps further by adding new ways to play, including one player being the hero and other players being the villains in certain missions. There is also an alternative game mode where players still have the same goal of completing the story, but they are ranked against other players in the game. The player with the best stats at the end of a mission wins a bonus to take into the next mission.

SHH!: Can you tell us about the ability to customize each playable character? Why is this important to gameplay?

Paul: Each hero can get equipment, upgraded powers and stats as they level up. The big customization in “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” is in the many unlockable costumes. Each costume is more than just a cosmetic difference – the costumes contain their own unique stats and powers. For example, you might prefer to play as Spider-Man in the black costume over Spider-Man in the red and blue costume because of the special powers in the black one. It all depends on how much you want to manage each character, and also the teams of characters.

SHH!: What locations can we expect to see in the game?

Paul: “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” sends you all around the Marvel universe and beyond. From Nick Fury’s helicarrier, to the underwater city of Atlantis, to the Skrull homeplanet and even Murderworld, players and Marvel fans will definitely appreciate being able to finally visit these places in a great action/RPG video game.

SHH!: Tell us about the branching storyline and how that might change the progression of the game for players.

Paul: There are many key decisions that the player has to make in “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.” One, for example, is to save Prince Namor. If you do so, not only does it change the mission and how you beat it, but at the end of the game, we have an epilogue cut scene system that dynamically changes to reflect the choices you made throughout the story. There are many more decisions, and each of them helps piece together how your epilogue cut scene will play out once you’ve passed the final boss battle. So you can go through the game multiple times, make different choices at each point, and get to see the different ways you are able to affect the overall Marvel universe.

SHH!: Are there any plans yet to add new levels or characters by downloads after the game’s been out?

Paul: Our only goal right now is to get “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” done. But, if there were ever a game that had a ton of content to pull from, it would be “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.” I’m sure we’ll evaluate additional downloads once the game is finished.

SHH!: When the game launches this fall, who will be on your four hero team?

Paul: I’ll be playing with Human Torch, Ghost Rider, Wolverine and Elektra. Who will you be playing with?

Visit the game’s official website to determine what your line-up will be! You can pre-order Marvel: Ultimate Alliance at Amazon.

Source: Superhero Hype!