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Marvel Nemesis’ fails at consistency

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Brilliant, yet essentially flawed.

That trait has belonged to many talented people and exceptional things throughout history. Composers, artists, musicians have all fallen under that curse – of being gifted while exhibiting some fatal flaw or flaws that hinders them.

“Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects” falls into this category as well. Another Marvel licensed product in what is becoming a sea of such merchandise, “Marvel Nemesis” stands apart from the rest due to its nature as an arena-based fighting game. The last Marvel fighter modeled itself after more traditional fighting games, such as “Tekken” or “Mortal Kombat,” so this new game is truly unique in that regard.

For those who are wondering what arena-based fighting entails, the genre is much faster-paced than the typical fighting game. Fighters move freely through arenas, picking up and throwing objects without abandon. Instead of memorizing button combinations, players focus more on the overall strategy of the playing field. The playing field is particularly important in a game like “Marvel Nemesis,” where half the playing field is covered in explosive objects.

Coincidentally, like “X-Men Legends II” there are 18 playable characters. Unlike “Legends,” most of the characters are locked in the beginning. Typically, this would be considered a positive, as giving the player plenty of unlockable content prolongs the life of the game.

To unlock these characters, the player has to go through the story mode of the game. This is where the major flaws in the game reside. The story mode has moments of sheer adrenaline, but then balances those segments out with parts that are practically guaranteed to break the player’s controller. Any game that forces you to repeatedly try a segment, especially when it’s not the focus of the game, has some difficulty issues.

Difficulty is a vital component of games. Without it, there would be no truly memorable moments within games, and there would be no incentive to become competent at a game. But the story mode is not the main component of “Marvel Nemesis,” and forcing players to painfully work their way through it is a disservice to the player.

It is the game’s true focus where it shines, however, and that is the one-on- one based arena combat. Since the arenas are typically large, and just as interactive as “X-Men Legends,” epic battles where explosions are rampant and super heroes are smashed through walls become common fare.

There are plenty of Marvel characters to play as, with a hero that would suit almost any fan. Many of them are characters that one would not typically expect to see as playable in a game too, such as The Thing, Venom and Electra. While popular in their own right, they don’t have the star status as some other members of the Marvel universe. That is not to say that the game does not have its share of big names, as Spiderman, Wolverine and Magneto are present as well.

In addition to the decent Marvel roster are the Imperfects, characters created by collaboration between Marvel and Electronic Arts. They are entirely new characters that come with their own background stories, and look impressive within the game. Due to their fledgling status, however, they will probably prove less popular than the licensed characters.

Marvel Nemesis is a mixed bag. Half a blast, half a chore, it is a hard game to recommend. Gamers looking for a Marvel arena-based fighter have their answer, but gamers looking for their favorite Marvel characters in a terrific game might be better off looking elsewhere.