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Videogame Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (for PlayStation 2)

Smashy, smashy! The Incredible Hulk returns with a vengeance from his 2003 craptacular feature film blunder, and he's just ichin' to deal out some green-skinned revenge! Now, with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, he gets to do just that, and it's about time. Thanks all you good folks at Sierra! This game feels like it was tailor made for the Hulk. You get to smash, demolish, mutilate, and destroy just about anything you can get your grubby green paws on. And that's just the beginning! The graphics are very nice and detailed, especially the environments, and especially when you're destroying them. Like when you land from a jump or a fall, the ground underneath you all cracks in a circular pattern just as you'd expect. Or when you throw a telephone pole into a helicopter, it comes spiraling down to an explosive landing... and then you can pick up the charred, still burning copter hull and toss it at yet another copter. Way cool!

You start the game in a VR training world, which is basically a tutorial to walk you through all of the Hulk's moves. Smashing things into rubble is easy enough to pick up, since that's really what the Hulk's good at, but there's a lot more moves than just mindless destruction. First off, you can pick up just about anything that's light enough for the Hulk to hold over his head, and then fling it at an enemy. I'm talking people, air conditioners, telephone poles, cars, trucks, and much more. Of course, you don't have to throw the things once you pick them up. If you grab something long, like a streetlight or tree, you can swing it around like a baseball bat, pummeling anyone or anything that happens to be standing in the way. If you pick up something like a car, you can rip it in two and put each half on an arm like giant metal boxing gloves.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Next comes running and climbing. The Hulk can do a quick dash move to quickly get up close and personal, or by holding the button down he can sprint run. Now, if he happens to into the side of a building while he's sprinting... well, you probably won't believe it, but he starts running up the side of the building! It thought this was The Hulk, not Spider-Man?! This is probably one of the silliest aspects of the game, although with the way a lot of the missions are laid out, the move is definitely necessary if you hope to prevail. Climbing, on the other hand, looks much more realistic. It's also easier to control and takes only one button press to execute. The downside is that it's much slower than the running. A lot of time I'll actually use a combination of the two, like grabbing on to a building and start climbing so I'm moving in the right direction, then switch to running so I'll can get there faster.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction The final basic move of the game is jumping. A simple jump is a single button press and is easy to do, but, like other moves, holding the button down will charge up the move. Once Hulk's jump is charged to the max, he is able to leap large distances, just like in the craptacular movie. In fact, the animation of it looks very similar to what was in the movie, which I didn't care for at all. I think he just looks silly with his arms all flailing wildly, like he's scared or something. Still, doing the long jump is very useful for traversing great distances quickly, if you can control it. What's also cool is that jumping can be combined with climbing, so if you jump into the side of a skyscraper, you can grab hold of it instead of falling all the way to the concrete below.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Now, about the story. The overall plot has to do with Dr. Banner trying to recreate the experiment that turned him into the Hulk so that he may find a cure. All the while, some evil military dude has got his panties all in a bunch about the Hulk-ster, and basically sends all his military morons out to take the green guy down. Of course there are some plot twists and stuff, but I don't want to give those away. In addition to the main story, there are a ton of side challenges that you can take on. These not only help you practice specific moves, but earn you additional smash points, which you get whenever you smash anything. These smash points are then used to buy new or upgraded moves for the Hulk, such as being able to pick up an 18 wheeler's trailer, smash it, use it for a shield, and then kick it towards your foes.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Okay, so what about this game didn't I like? Well, I didn't like the menu system. It wasn't intuitive at all. Like for instance, when you load your game, and after confirming that your game was successfully loaded, you then have to select "Continue Game". And what's up with the load confirmation? Why do so many games to this? Isn't it kind of obvious when the game loads successfully? If I can see my character, then obviously the game loaded successfully. You don't gotta waste my time and make me press extra confirmation buttons! How about I load my game, and then I play my game? Huh? How about that? But I digress. Oh, and then in the tutorial mode, whenever you successfully complete your intended task, you are then bother with two separate windows telling you that you've complete your task and that you can continue training in the VR until you're ready to leave. Hello? We've been through this at the start of the game! You don't gotta remind me every time I go to try out a new move. Here I am, trying to make my way to the exit, and you gotta bug me not once, but twice! You couldn't have just popped up that reminder message at the bottom of the screen?

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction By far the biggest gripe that I have with this game is the kerning table, or lack there-of. For those of you who don't know, a kerning table tells how much spacing should be between two text characters. Kerning tables can be very large, since you basically have to keep track of spacing between every two character combination possible, such as "aa", "ab", "ac", all the way down to "zx", "zy", "zz", plus numbers and punctuation. Normally, I use a width table, which specifies only the width of each character. A width table is a lot smaller than a kerning table, but not as effective. Consider if you have an "." right after a "V". In width table, the period would be placed directly after the farthest point of the "V", but because of the way the "V" slopes, it may look like there is too much spacing between the two characters. With a kerning table, we'd know exactly where we could place the period when it's following a "V" so that the spacing looks right.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Okay, so after that big long explanation that nobody cared about, let me get back to my gripe. The spacing between some of the text characters they use in this game is AWFUL, making it difficult to read at times, especially when trying to read paragraphs. For instance, the phrase "Air Recovery" looks more like "Air Recovery", and then the phrase "Shockwave Smash" looks more like "Shock wave Smash". So I assume this spacing issue is because they used a width table that just doesn't work too well with the font they selected. They should have either tweaked the font or made special exceptions for the character combinations that look funky. Of course, this doesn't take away from the excellent gameplay, and normally you don't even have to read the mission descriptions 'cause some guy's voice will tell you the jist of it.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction So yeah, this is a fun game. But I do want to mention that The Hulk doesn't really act like much of a superhero in this game. Besides causing a ton of destruction and devastation, the missions he undertakes are all for the purpose of either finding a way to cure himself or to stop the military morons. Oh, there is this one challenge level where you need to rush a broken-down ambulance to the hospital, but really, what do expect from a game all about destruction? When you get further along in the story, you do get to see that The Hulk is actually serving a somewhat useful purpose. Alright, so bottom line, if you're a fan of The Hulk, then you're going to want this game. If you like smashy-smashy, then you're going to want this game. It's really a nice change of pace from all the plain vanilla titles are being released left and right, and I'm glad I now own it, because a rental just wouldn't be enough.

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