The dungeon-crawler action-RPG genre was a good fit for the PSP. The overhead perspective allowed developers to create a fun action game on the go without having to be strapped with the usual camera problems inherent with more traditional 3-D action/adventure games. Some of the games that found great success on the handheld were the Raven developed Marvel action-RPG’s X-Men Legends 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance that were great conversion of their console counterparts. With that pedigree, there were a lot of high expectations for the second Marvel Ultimate Alliance game on the handheld, and while it does a much better job of recreating the console experience on the go than the wholly forgettable DS game, it still unfortunately fails to be a great port like the other two games that came before it.
I won’t spend too much time with the plot of MUA2 on the PSP as like the DS game, it follows the exact same story as the console game. Unlike the DS game, the PSP actually has the FMV’s found in the console game as well as voice, so as far as presentation goes, the PSP has the DS game beat hands down. As far as structure goes, the PSP port of MUA2 has more in common with the DS game than the game on either the PS3 and the Xbox 360 as both share the same levels as one another that are unique from either the hi-def games despite having the same story and the “choose your side” break in the middle.
Those who have played any other Marvel dungeon crawler from Activision also really know what they’re getting into here. You pick a team of four heroes or villains and move through dungeon like areas punching on bad guys to level up your team. You have two attacks and a throw all on the face buttons and those can be modified to perform super moves when the R-trigger is held down. The L-trigger allows you to perform combo maneuvers with whoever else is on your team in game’s fusion mechanic which is much more useful this time around.
In the DS game I finished it without having to use the fusion move once, but here it was mandatory at points, a little too mandatory sometimes actually. The bosses you encounter take forever to kill with either your regular or super attacks and the best course of action is to always wait until you can build up to a fusion move and take them down. It was like this in the console game too at points, however you still felt like your standard solo moves also helped a little as well.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 uses the same Alchemy Engine that powered both X-Men Legends 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance on the PSP, however the development duties this time around didn’t fall to the people who made the engine, Vicarious Visions, but to port studio Savage Entertainment. While performance is much better on the PSP than the DS because of the added horsepower of the device, the machine still struggles a lot of the time to run the game. Load times between levels are really lengthy, characters can start slowing down while simply running through the environments and things get even more hectic when a large group of enemies show up on the screen. Sometimes when trying to do the fusion moves you have to select it two or three times before the animation will kick in for the move to start. It’s not exactly unplayable, but it’s not exactly that smooth either.
Whereas Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 on console felt like an evolution from the previous game, the PSP title feels like more of an expansion. That’s not to say that can be bad, there’s just some upgrades that are sorely missed here. In the console game you could swap out characters on the fly which allowed you to experiment more. Here, like in the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you can only change characters at a save station. The save stations themselves are also spaced very far apart so if you say, experiment with a new character and fine they’re not to your liking, you’re stuck with them for a very long time. The distance between being able to save is also not conducive to a game that’s meant to be played on the go.
If you’re looking for a way to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 on the go, the PSP game is a far better choice than the DS build due to its better presentation and overall gameplay. Though it is better than the DS MUA2, neither games are really must-play game either. The ports of Marvel Ultimate Alliance as well as X-Men Legends 2 on the PSP are far better than this game, which suffers from some serious slowdown and lengthy load times. Not a terrible game by any means, but you’re better off sticking to the game on either PS3 or Xbox 360 unless you’re a die-hard handheld gamer who needs more Marvel games on the go.