Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

I realize this game is not new.  I even got it over a year ago, but I am just now getting around to playing it and I think I broke it.

My understanding is that if you play through the story of the game as designed, it will provide a moderate level of difficulty all the way through, perhaps even getting harder toward the end.  However, I didn’t do that.  I played through the first section of the game (immediately switching my team out for the West Coast Avengers inspired team of Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Spider-Woman and Iron Man), but once I got to Stark Tower, the first HQ and mission hub in the game, I went exploring instead of taking the next mission immediately.

One of the features of the game are the Comic Book missions.  These are short (20 minutes max) training simulation missions that you discover while playing through the game.  However, they do also give you six of them to start.  Because they are given to you, there are no rewards for these missions.  You don’t unlock extra gear or suits, but you will gain experience and cash while playing them.  I played all six (and I had to repeat one because I fell about three hundred points shy of getting the Gold level on it, so I actually did seven missions).  The result of this detour was that when I went to do mission number two I wasn’t level 4 or 5 like a player should be when going through the story missions alone, I was level 14 or 15.  For the next two story missions I ripped through them like a hot knife through butter.  I take enemies out in two or three hits easily, sometimes less.  Boss fights are a breeze as I am doing 60-80 points of damage with one of Moon Knight’s special attacks (he’s my favored character on whom I dump all point spending and the best items).

I’ve just moved from Act 1 to Act 2, Dr. Strange’s house, and I am hoping that maybe the game will get a tad harder.  We’ll have to wait and see.

But, this brings up a discussion of game design.  The question is, did the designers put in the training missions expressly for the purpose of giving players who can’t progress in the story a place to play and level up a bit, or is this leveling path I have discovered unintentional?  I would like to think it was intentional since it can be extremely frustrating to get stuck in a game, however since I managed to get 10 levels in just a few missions, I think they may have misjudged them and made them too rewarding.

Of course, I may have also broken the game design through my method of play in that I am dumping all my power and money into one character and treating the other three members of my team as “additional damage”.  So many years of playing MMOs with the tank/healer mentality leaks over in to every game I play.  I can’t blame that entirely, though, as mathematically and logically it makes sense to play this way, if defeating the content is your goal.

In any event, despite the game being “easy”, I am still enjoying playing it.  And that’s the important thing…

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