The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Cover
Platforms GameCube, PS2, Xbox
Genre Pre-Prototype sandbox action
Score 6  Clock score of 6
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"Comic book video game."  Maybe not the most successful four-word combination in the history of the world.  But you can't blame them for trying, right?  What could be cooler than playing as your favorite super-hero?  The premise of Ultimate Destruction is that you play as the Hulk, and the Hulk smashes things.  And although there's more to the game than that, smashing things is the basis of the gameplay, and guess what.  It's fun.

This game was developed by Radical Entertainment and released in August 2005 for XBox, PS2, and GameCube.

Ultimate Destruction is an open-world game.  Basically, there are three areas. Two of the areas are huge, the third is a hub that is much smaller.  In each area, you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want.  And by that I mean smash whatever you want.  The main progression of the game involves buying new moves for hulk to smash things.  In order to unlock new moves, you play through story missions.  The story missions are normal comic book video game fare, and they mostly boil down to smashing things, getting from point A to point B while smashing things, or smashing things while trying to keep something from being smashed.
The story is.... hm, how to put this.  They tried, they really did, but I just didn't care.  The Hulk is an interesting character, but they used all the least interesting things about him in the story.  All I wanted to do was smash things.

Here's where more games should take note: the currency used to buy new moves is called Smash Points, and you get it by destroying things.  In other words, you are rewarded for doing what you were already going to be doing anyway.  Do you enjoy smashing stuff, and you want to be able to smash more stuff?  Then continue smashing stuff!  It works great.  The moves are unlocked by completing missions, and then you cash in your Smash Points for them.  It's a great way to encourage progression through the game, and it would be even better if the story was interesting.

The moves themselves are fun to use.  The basic layout is primary attack, secondary attack, and grab.  There's also a jump button and a run/turbo button.  Alternating primary and secondary attacks will do different combos which have different effects, and more advanced moves are pulled off by pressing two buttons at a time.  Every move can be charged up, from a basic punch to a ground hammer to his legendary sonic clap.  The moves feel great.  There's nothing like collapsing a tank with your forehead!  Some of the enemies are really difficult to defeat until you get the right move.  Tanks are annoying... until you get the ability to grab the barrel of its gun and swing it around like a hammer toss.  Helicopters will make your life difficult... until you gain the ability to grab the front of of one and (get this) kick it into the face of another.
Which brings me to another point.  This game is the predecessor to Prototype.  It was designed by the same company, and a lot of the moves are exactly the same.  Prototype is basically the next-gen sequel to Ultimate Destruction, but I guess at some point they lost the Hulk license.
This game did a good job in making you feel like a superhero without the game being too easy.  Hulk feels overpowered near the end of the game, but the enemies are still tough.  You get to the point where tanks and helicopters are mere bugs to be squashed, and dealing with Hulkbuster mechs is your only worry.  Even then Hulk can kill them with a single move if you can just grab onto one of them, but that's the real trick.  You end up playing a character that feels super strong, yet you're still pitted against challenging foes.
Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction smash wall run

Graphics: 6
Hulk looks good.  Everything else is a little blocky and the frame rate is low.  It drops, of course, when there's tons of stuff flying, but if that much stuff was breaking, the frame rate would drop in real life too.  No, the problem is that the standard frame rate is low, and makes the game look a little jerky.  The physics are quite impressive for the consoles it was on, allowing nearly everything in the game to be bashed around.

Sound: 7
Hulk sounds good, and the chatter you hear from the military units you fight can be funny, although it gets repetitive toward the end.  The voice work is actually outstanding, but the music is... is there music?

Story: 4
The story tries so hard.  So hard that it hurts all the more that I just didn't care.  It has an origin story for Abomination, and it probably would have been good in a comic book, but all I wanted to do was smash things.

Gameplay: 8
Here's where the game excels.  The movement is fun, the moves are fun, smashing stuff is fun.

Value: 9
The replay-ability is high because you can always just run around and blow off steam by destroying everything in sight.  Since you can find it new for $15-25, I'd say it's a pretty good value.  Several times after a tough day at work I've booted this sucker up and... Hulk smash!

Overall: 6
It was a better than average game, but not by much.