The producer of "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion" explained how the game relates to the Marvel's "Civil War" and how even those who've read the comic are in for a surprise.
During GDC, I got a preview of "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2," the sequel to the best-selling 2006 action RPG developed by Raven Software.
This time around, Albany, New York-based developer Vicarious Visions is at the helm (in addition to "MUA1"'s multi-platform engine, they made the Wii and PSP versions). The game is based on the epic Marvel Comics crossover event "Civil War," which had Marvel's superheroes fighting against each other over the Superhuman Registration Act. One side had Iron Man leading a government-loyal faction who believed the registration was a responsibility of public servants; the other side was led by Captain America, who thought the act violated civil liberties and compromised the security of heroes' secret identities.
Vicarious Visions producer and former Marvel Comics editor Evan Skolnick was on hand to explain how much "MUA2" is based on the comic and what differences we can expect (like how Thor and Hulk appear)...
"The player's presented with a choice. And then they must choose one side or the other: Iron Man or Captain America."
Evan Skolnick: "The first level is "Secret War" [storyline by Brian Michael Bendis]. We saw 'Secret War' as laying the groundwork for "Civil War." And to change the entire Marvel universe in one cut scene was not going to work; we needed to convince the audience that this could happen in the Marvel universe.
"So we start this first mission, which is certainly designed to feel a lot like the previous game. 'We're the good guys, they're the bad guys, let's go get 'em.' A very kind of black-and-white approach to the story. But then just after the scene -- there's a cut scene that plays -- there starts to be chinks in the armor. Like, 'Hey, should we really be out here attacking a foreign government?' And [Nick] Fury's like, 'Trust me.'
"Our version is kind of a 'what if' take on it. We didn't follow the storyline exactly for a number of reasons."
"So these gray areas start to form and as we move through the storyline in the first part of the game, we start to see events happen that are causing the public's opinion to turn against heroes. 'Shouldn't they be regulated? And registered?' This groundwork is laid to the point where then the Stamford event from 'Civil War' occurs. Then the player's presented with a choice. And then they must choose one side or the other: Iron Man or Captain America. They must decide which side they're going to fight for, and so this is where the rabbit hole goes. We go even further with the gray areas and fighting old friends and all the things that you've seen in 'Civil War.'
"Now our version is kind of a 'what if' take on it. We didn't follow the storyline exactly for a number of reasons. One of which is we wanted to allow the player to choose. And in the comics, of course there was only one way that things went, and we wanted the player to be able to choose to help either side try to win the war.
"Are you going to lose half your playable characters because of [your] choice or to stay consistent with the comic books?"
"Also, player roster. At the point at which you are forced to make a choice, are you going to lose half your playable characters because of that choice or to stay consistent with the comic books? That didn't seem like a very fair thing to ask the player to do. So apart from a few core characters, like Cap, Iron Man and their right-hand folks, the vast majority of playable characters will go with you -- no matter which side you choose, and even if it contradicts the specifics of the comic book story. And of course, where things go from there is not necessarily consistent with the comics; even those who've read the comics through and through are going to be in for some major surprises."
Check back later for more "MUA2" coverage.