NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 10/16/2013
You can look at the Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction a number of ways: As a follow up to the excellent 1990’s animated show as Neal McDouough returns from that series to voice Dr. Bruce Banner, a follow up to 2003’s “Hulk”, or simply the single best Hulk video game and an all time comic book game classic. Either is applicable to this game, take your pick.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is the second Hulk game from Radical, arriving two years after the “Hulk” tie-in. This time Radical was not under the deadline pressure to deliver a product to match up with the release of a film, and were able to elaborate on the experience in astounding ways.
The first was in the games overall structure. 2003’s “Hulk” was a straight level based affair with no room for exploration. Taking a page from 2004’s Spider-Man 2 from Activision, UD is an open world game where the Hulk is able to freely explore two different environments: an unnamed city and a badlands desert environment. Both are littered with collectibles and missions for the Hulk to play around with.
To compensate for the new model, Hulk’s locomotion had to be upgraded to accommodate the change, and what’s amazing is that Radical managed to limber up the character without sacrificing power. To get around you can perform the trademark Hulk superjump by charging “A”, but you can also climb walls by jumping into them with a button tap or run up them by charging at them while holding down a trigger. Running in particular feels good in UD, as you can feel the Hulk’s feet pounding against the ground with the rumble synching up to each step.
Those who played “Hulk” will feel right at home in UD in the combat department from the start: you still have the same light and heavy attacks set to the same buttons that can be charged, and a basic throw. Unlike the first game however, you can upgrade your repertoire of moves in a lot of creative ways by purchasing moves in your safe-house with gathered currency. By games end you’ll b able to weaponize cars into boxing gloves, surf on buses, spin tanks around like they were Bowser in Super Mario 64 and bowl giant rocks at enemies among others.
In order to gain new moves, you have to gather smash points which are either found in the world or by completing missions. While there is a whole lotta’ smashing going on (the game is called “Ultimate Destruction” after all), the amount of variety in the missions help to keep the game fresh. In the main missions the objectives will be broken up between gathering desired items, destroying convoys and protection missions. One mission even has the Hulk hilariously “sneaking” into an army base by using a jeep as cover, a Trojan Hulk as it were.
Where the most variety in the game can be found is in the myriad of side missions clustered around both of the hub worlds. Here you can compete in anything from races, Hulk golf, Hulk baseball, soccer challenges and taxi challenges, each having medals to be won depending on your performance. Some are more fun than others, but the important thing to remember is that all are completely optional, so you can rack up points in your favorite games and avoid the ones you find less attractive.
If I had to fault UD in anything it would be with some of the difficulty balancing towards the end. The game does a good job of slowly introducing enemy types: starting off with things like basic tanks then working your way up to various types of Hulk busters. Later missions seem to pile the enemies on top of you in endless waves with no respite, requiring a little bit of luck to get through some of the hairier scrapes where the goal is to simply escape with a machine component.