"Mediocre" Hulk Video Game Review

This reviewer felt that, "Vivendi Universal's "Hulk" falls somewhere in the middle. (between Spider-man and Wolverine's Revenge) It's neither a good nor a bad game." Well, reviewers are always ultra-critical. I got it and think it's awesome.
As a game player, you'll only like him when he's angry

Superhero movies are hot. Video games based on superhero movies are even hotter.

Some, including Activision's "Spider-Man," faithfully re-create the plot, the look and the feel of the film. And then there's Activision's "Wolverine's Revenge," which merely licensed a shot of Hugh Jackman from "X2" for a mediocre game that has nothing to do with the film.

Vivendi Universal's "Hulk" falls somewhere in the middle. It's neither a good nor a bad game. It's tied to the movie (the film's Bruce Banner, Eric Bana, supplies the character's voice) but features a storyline set a year after the events in the film.

"Hulk" is a modern twist on the old story of "Jekyll and Hyde." Banner is a mild-mannered scientist and all-around doormat who gets doused with gamma radiation. Whenever he gets angry, he turns into a jade-colored beast hell-bent on smashing everything in his path.

Various levels feature gameplay as either Banner or the Hulk. Those looking for a reconciliation between Banner's two natures should check into anger management. You'll get none of that here. The game play is as fractured as the two distinct personalities housed in Banner's body.

Banner's levels are particularly frustrating and will surely leave you seeing green. Since the character is a bit of a wuss, you basically sneak around corners and hide behind boxes, a combination that is part "Metal Gear Solid," part "Splinter Cell"--but all boring. Perhaps the game be renamed "Crouching Banner, Hulking Monster" in homage to "Hulk" director Ang Lee's previous film.

There also are problems with the artificial intelligence of your enemies. Sometimes you can walk right up to a guard and he still won't see you, but peek around a box and that same guard that's half a city block away from you suddenly spots you with a hawk's precision. I've heard of being far-sighted, but come on!

You also have to use Banner's scientific "logic" to crack computer codes, but it really just entails shifting number and letter tiles around to match a sequence before a timer runs down.

Then there is the matter of the various puzzles that have you pulling and pushing sets of crates in specific combinations so that you can climb over and onto things. These tasks wouldn't be nearly as frustrating if the right thumbstick could move the camera so you could see what you were doing. No such luck, though.

The game works best on the levels where you play as Hulk. No logic required here--just smash, smash, smash. Everything in the environment can be crushed or thrown. The game's graphics engine incorporates real physics, so walls crumble, cars dent and signs break in a realistic manner.

Graphically, the game harks back to the Hulk's comic-book roots with cell-shaded graphics that render the characters in a way that is less cartoonlike and almost as if they'd been done in watercolors.

There also are some nice touches for fans of the Marvel comic. A third character--Gray Hulk--can be played when unlocked, villains such as the Leader and Ravage all put in appearances, and the diner in the opening scene is named Kirby's in honor of the man who first drew the Hulk, Jack Kirby.

"Hulk" would have been better had the Banner levels offered a unique or compelling form of gameplay. Heck, they could have been omitted altogether. After all, there's a reason the comic's not called "The Incredible Bruce Banner."
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EarthsMightiestAdmin
6/11/2003
Chicago Sun-Times

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