Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction


Alright, so you’re picking through old games at the local shop, or you’re clicking through the bargain pages of a web site.  Either way, you come across The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (I, personally, have only beaten the PS2 and X-Box versions though I’ve played the GameCube version to a moderate extent; I know the latter is mostly identical, but there may be minor differences I don’t cover here), and you’re pondering picking it up.  Sure, you can go off reviews written when the game was new—but what was cool as the other side of the pillow then may be twaddle now.  So how’s one to know?  That’s what I’m here for.

Cover Art

Developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games, Ultimate Destruction was published mid-‘Oh-Five for the PS2, X-Box, and GameCube.  Two years earlier, that same developer-publisher pairing brought us Hulk, based on the film directed by Ang Lee.  That game received fair to good reviews, but one of the more common complaints seen on forums at the time was controlling Banner.  Some didn’t like controlling him, period, and others would have liked more freedom than to have his levels mostly revolve around stealth.

Such complaints were answered, in such a way few had expected, in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.  It wasn’t a sequel to the former game, as it was decided to step away from it and focus on the comics, and the stories and characters provided therein.  Ultimately, however, Ultimate Destruction really promised one thing above all else—the ability to smash as only the Hulk can.

Game Play
When you first load up the game, you’re treated to an introductory full-motion video (F.M.V.) sequence providing basic introductions and it sets up the “plot”.  Once that’s complete (or skipped), you’re taken to a training ground of sorts.  Though it’s the basic, run-on-the-mill “learn to do something by being forced to do it a dozen times” set-up, it is worked in rather interestingly, story-wise.  You’re controlling a simulation of the Hulk, here, so General Ross (the leader of the military personnel attempting to put a stop to the Hulk) can train his men.  It is completely identical to the “real thing”, as it were, so there’s absolutely no game play difference for you, the player, but it’s still interesting.  Something I, personally, haven’t really seen since.

Oh, yes, we’ve seen the “this is just a simulation” way to provide a bit of pre-“real game” training before and since rather often, but not quite like this, where you, the player, are controlling the simulation for the protagonist’s enemies.  Immersion-wise, it’s rather compelling, and not something I’ve seen the like of outside of this game.  Further, it’s more than just some glorified room—you have a rather large section of desert to run around in.  For a training area in a game published six years ago, it’s almost astoundingly large and well-populated.  Aside from the expected human enemies, you have cows to hurl around.  Plus large boulders, vehicles, civilians, and such.

What the Hulk does best

After the tutorial level, they hand you a large fictional city and let you do what the Hulk does best.  The city itself is massive; much larger than I, personally, had expected.  Once you get used to maneuvering as the Hulk, it won’t be difficult to traverse it all, but it never really feels too small.  Also, there is even a noticeable gradation from low-rise apartments/single-story businesses to skyscrapers, so that adds to feel of it being a real city.

You’ll be thrust right into your first mission, but it’s not that hard at all and should take next to no time to accomplish, then you have the option to continue the story missions or—not.  Yes, that early, you’re given free reign to go absolutely bat-guano on the city if you so choose.  Here, right here, is the heart and soul of the game, and the fact that Radical Entertainment gives you that complete freedom so early is almost worthy of applause.  It’s not like, say, the Grand Theft Auto franchise, where you open up the game world piecemeal as you work through the story missions; no, here—you’re handed it all and told to have fun.

Imagine this: You’re running along, and some police officers start harassing you.  So you stomp a bus to get it nice and crinkled, then you grab it and leap into the air to hurl it down at the police, resulting in a nice explosion.  Then you grab a taxi and hoist it over your head to bring it down with a resounding crash on the twisted hulk (no pun intended) of the police car the officers were standing behind.  Or—you grab one officer, bash him once to get him nice and dispatched, then hurl the “unconscious” body at his partner.  Or you rip a lamp post out of the ground, golf-swing the officer into the air, then hurl the post javelin-like to strike him while he’s falling.

And those are just possible ways to deal with the police officers at the start of the game.  There are gas stations to blow up, used car lots to empty, and, of course, buildings to destroy.  I’ll get to that in a moment, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the pedestrians.  You can actually interact with them, which surprised me when I first played.  I personally found that in the X-box version they were more difficult to target, but that aside, you could bash them, swing a post at them, and so on, or you could pick them up.  Now, ignoring the incessant screaming whenever you so much as wiggled a toe, you could hurl them, finger-flick them a good mile or so, or—more humorously—set them down and pat their head.  They deal no damage when hurled against an actual enemy or vehicle or the like, and technically take no damage (in that there’s only two options for them—”unconscious” or not, unlike actual enemies), but it’s still a surprising depth to a surprising aspect of the game.

There are buildings that can be destroyed in the game—but aside from gas station pumps (which aren’t technically a building), there is only one model of high-rise.  The others can be climbed, run along, and have the cracks and other damage overlays applied to them, but only “Division Corp.” buildings can be actually destroyed.  Annoyingly enough, there are a few other buildings that share the model, so even when you get to recognize the model from a distance, it won’t be immediately apparent if the next one you see is destructible or not.  However, once you get close enough, it’s a simple enough thing to discover: If it has anything on it—lights, a billboard, a vent-thing that emits steam or smoke, then it’s not a Division building.

There are actually numerous reasons for the comparative restriction in just how much of the city you can destroy—for one thing, that’s processing power.  Every destructible building has two “versions” of itself; the intact version and the rubble version.  If every building were destroyable, it would mean a lot more data to be dealt with, which would have resulted in a smaller city, lower-resolution Hulk, and so on and so on.

Another, more in-story reason is that at the end of the day, the Hulk doesn’t kill.  If you aren’t familiar with the character it’s somewhat convoluted, and outside the scope of a review for a video game, so—just go with it, ‘kay?  ‘Kay.  Anyway, for reasons that are made apparent in the story, Division Corporation are jerks.  Big jerks.  Big, mean-faced, poopy-headed jerk-noses.  So the Hulk has no compunction with turning their buildings into powder.

Along those no-kill lines, that also leads me to mention that the violence in the game is rather “sanitized”.  Meaning there really isn’t much, if any, blood to be seen anywhere, and even if you do something like pin an enemy between four cars and hurl another one at the mess to make the entire thing go up like a stereotypical Chinese new year celebration, you’ll find a body instead of chunky salsa.  Notice how I kept encapsulating the word “unconscious” with quotes a few paragraphs back?  Yeah.

On the other hand, the game doesn’t prevent you from doing any of that—you just don’t get gore dripping from the stop lights as a result.  I, for one, don’t mind that.  I’d rather the violence in a Hulk game be “sanitized” than not have any at all.

Aside from the main city, there’s also a desert section to roam around in.  It doesn’t feel quite as large as the city, though that may well be because it’s flatter.  There isn’t much to climb out there, though if you think about it that’s rather to be expected, so it fits well enough.

Moving on to more general things—the Hulk moves simply fantastically.  The controls are about as tight as one should expect, for controlling a positively enormous, ambulatory walking tank of doom, which is to say that if you’re mid-leap and you need to dodge something quickly—tough luck, pal.  This is The Incredible Hulk, not The Amazing Spider-Man.  There are things you can do in mid-air, but at the end of the day, the Hulk is a walking tank; he’s about strength, not agility.  The controls reflect that.

One interesting thing is the ability to climb buildings.  There are two ways to do it—dig your hands in and crawl like you’re re-enacting that comic where Peter Parker “Hulked out”, or—ready for this?—you can run up the wall.  I’m sure there’s some rational explanation for it straight from the comics, but the best reason for it to exist, even though it boggles the mind more than nearly anything else the Hulk does in the game (odd as that may be) is that, put bluntly, simply climbing a building can take for-bloody-ever.  So running up a building, while incredibly odd, does let you do what you need to do quickly.

One mechanic I think is interesting is “Critical Mass”.  You have your health meter, which gets refilled by glowing orbs.  These orbs are obtained from enemies, strewn about randomly, or—humorously enough—you can get a ton from ambulances.  They aren’t uncommon, and there’s a hospital with quite a few parked right out front, so health is rather free-flowing—which is rather necessary.

Anyway, once you get your health meter to maximum, if you gain more, you enter “Critical Mass”.  This basically means that if you charge certain attacks (nearly everything you do as the Hulk can be “charged”; I.E., hold down the relevant button, so whatever you’re doing, you’ll do better—hit harder, jump higher, whatever, accompanied by a green-ish glow) all the way, there’s a brief scene of the Hulk writhing as energy pulsates, and he does that attack in an almost Bullet Time-esque slow-motion sort of thing, that does beau coup damage and can help clear the immediate area.

Thinking about attacks, there is a large variety of them.  Most are combos of some kind, which involve two buttons—the Attack and Special buttons.  The why behind the latter being named “Special”, I’ll get to in a moment.  For combos, it’s really a matter of what combination of those two buttons to use.  Attack, Attack, Special does one thing, Attack, Special, Attack, does something else, and so on.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, most attacks can be “charged”, and this includes each attack in a combo.  So it’s easy to dish out some real damage fifteen different ways, but it’s not overly complex.  Like the Hulk himself, the system is simple, but powerful.

Let's get ready to ruuuuuumblllllllle!

Another interesting mechanic is the ability to “weaponize” things.  I’ll mention how you get these specific abilities a few paragraphs later, but for now, if you complete every bit of the tutorial you start with the ability to turn cars into glove-like things (the Norton movie referenced this, and got it from this game, interestingly enough).  As you progress through the story, you can purchase other “weaponizations”, including turning a bus (or other large vehicle like an ambulance) into a sort of boomerang-slash-surf board (it’s actually rather fun to “skate” down a street, interestingly enough), use a sphere like a burger sign or a gas station sign as a bowling ball, and a ton of others.  To “weaponize” an object, you grab it and hit the Special button—hence its name.

Moving on to enemies—you will meet many of them.  Many of them.  After your third mission (after “Lightning Strike”, for the curious), you will start to face near-incessant waves of enemies.  This makes sense, mind you—you’re tearing up their city.  They’re going to be a little—miffed.  By the end of the game, though, you’ve faced mechanical exo-suit-things called Hulk Busters of varying sizes, a veritable cornucopia of tanks and helicopters, and so much more.  I’ll go into this a little more in the Replayability section, but to cut to the chase—by the very end, you’ll have succeeded in angering everyone very much.  I would not be surprised if there were a “deleted scene” or the like where the military were seriously pondering nuking the entire city or desert just to get to you.  The level of anti-you stuff they throw at you gets that hair-raising and incredulous, where such a step as full-scale razing of an entire city or desert isn’t that large.

To put it more bluntly, the scale of difficulty increases sharply.  After the tutorial, the first few missions are around a two or three on a scale of one to ten.  By the end of the story missions, you’re seriously hovering at around a nine, but the time spent between isn’t that long.  It’s not really hyperbolic to say that a smattering of missions are all that separate the two to four section of the scale from the seven to nine end.  Imagine being surrounded—surrounded—by men in exoskeletal suits designed specifically to put the hurt on you, and they’re almost as good at hurting you as you are at smashing things.  Then imagine trying to complete missions like that.

Speaking of enemies, there’s an odd thing that one notices when playing for even a little bit—the enemies aren’t “unconscious” until they fade away.  You could smack an enemy’s health completely away so they fall over, but if you grab them quickly enough, they’ll scream and plead and carry on in such manner.  It’s not really a detriment in any sense, but it’s something that may make you mutter or chuckle now and then.

The last thing I’ll mention in this already overly-verbose section is Smash Points.  They’re the game’s “currency”, and, hopefully obviously, you get Smash Points by smashing things.  The bigger the “thing”, the more the points.  E.G., utterly destroying a car gets you a small amount, but taking down a Division building earns quite a bit more, and taking down end-game mega-enemies gets you more still.  You also get Smash Points by collecting small orange-y orbs that are hidden around the game.  They’re worth a large chunk of Smash Points, so are definitely worth the effort to find.  Those orbs stand out in the city rather well, so you can spot many just by running and jumping around as you normally would.

What you do with Smash Points is primarily purchase moves.  You start out with a very basic compliment of attacks and other moves, but soon you unlock things like the previously-mentioned “weaponizations”, attack combos, and quite a lot more.  By the end of it, you can have a huge assortment of ways to move and attack.

Story
Have you read pretty much anything about the Hulk?  Maybe seen an episode or two of that old live-action television show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno?  Or even seen the (as of this writing) most recent movie, starring Edward Norton?  If so, you’ll understand why I have to say that the story is, admittedly, basic.  Banner is trying to rid himself of the Hulk for good and thinks he may have an answer.  If you know anything, at all, about the Hulk you can guess some of the major events that happen, so it won’t be a huge surprise.

That said, though—it was executed surprisingly well, if rather concisely.  Many missions, you head to the marker and click the relevant button to start the mission, and the game essentially pauses so a brief voice-over can give you the basics of what you need to do, why the Hulk (as opposed to Banner) needs to do it, and then sends you on your merry way.  There are also longer cut scenes, which dive more into the story itself, and most are very entertaining to watch.  There’s really not much to say about the story, but that’s partly because there really isn’t much to the story.  It serves, almost solely, as a reason to go smashing things.  That said, it’s actually a rather cohesive tale, that fits with the comic origins without feeling overly campy (at least no campier than pretty much any Marvel movie has been of late).

It’s Banner and a friend versus General Ross and the military.  It’s mainly just hinted at here, but even so, it does an okay job of presenting Ross as more than a two-dimensional “villain”.  He’s doing what he thinks is best—his job.  His job, as a military officer, is to defend the citizens from threats—and a ten-foot-tall behemoth smashing through anything it bloody well pleases is pretty much a threat, wouldn’t you agree?  We, the audience/players, know that Banner is actually a decent man who fears the Hulk as much as anyone else, but General Ross can’t simply accept that.  He has to deal with the fact that the Hulk is a destructive force.

Again, that aspect is only lightly touched on, comparatively speaking, but when it is it helps ground the fantastic circumstances with a bit of reality.

Graphics
First thing I’d like to say is the GameCube version suffers the worst, graphically.  Mainly the Hulk himself suffers from the limited storage space.  Over all he’s a touch blockier, and though he doesn’t have individual fingers like his PS2 and X-Box counterparts he shares their animations so it looks—weird.  Put on one of those old-fashioned oven mitts and make a fist, or wiggle your fingers.  It looks even weirder than that.

"Puny human..."

Aside from that, the game looks surprisingly good.  The Hulk, especially, looks fantastic.  On the PS2 and X-Box, they really went to town on that model, to where the muscles are more than color variations, but actual bulges.  I commend Radical Entertainment for that.  And how he moves—mostly fantastic as well.  Mostly.  One thing I noticed is that he really shifts his weight around for the attacks—if you were going to double-fist someone a lot shorter than you and were going for raw power over speed, you would look like how the Hulk was animated.  He actually throws his weight upward first, bringing it down with a slight forward step.  The other attacks look equally believable.

Certain other animations, though—the wall-crawling, most egregiously, looks like his hands are being pulled into the building.  And the look on his face is—odd.  On the X-Box, it’s slightly harder to push the stick just enough to get him to walk, but if you do, he looks great.  The speed-dashing-thing looks especially good; he really hunkers down and moves his weight forward, kind of like a line backer.  The normal, basic run, though—it looks a bit “off”. It’s not particularly bad or anything, but it’s a bit more wiggly and “light” than I would equate to someone of the Hulk’s stature and mass.  Over all, he is simply fantastic-looking, and moves mostly wonderfully.

Mentioned previously, when you “charge” an action, the Hulk glows.  It’s a bright, green, amorphous glow that permeates the Hulk.  It actually looks pretty good and works well on a few levels; it’s a good indicator for the player to know how much you’re charging your action, and it has a nifty effect of making it seem like the Hulk is “drawing strength” or some similar.  It also does a great job of hiding the small flubs in some animations.  For example, when the Hulk slaps his hands together for his infamous thunderclap move, what the glow mostly hides is that his hands actually enter each other instead of moving flat against each other.  That was fine with me; that and occurrences like it are hidden very well; you would pretty much have to really work to look for them.

One of the last bits I think is mentionable for the Hulk specifically is the “taunt”.  The button or buttons vary between the consoles, but the effect is that the Hulk roars and sort of hunkers down a little.  It’s more angry and antagonistic than I may be making it sound.  There seems to be a pretty good collection of roars to cycle through, so it’s rarely the same sound twice in a row—however, when you point the camera head-on at the Hulk and do the taunt, each roar is one continuous sound, whether long or short, but he moves as if making two distinct, separate sounds.  It’s not a deal-breaker by any stretch, but it’s something that may make one do a small “mental stumble”.

Every time I play the game, I come away thinking that, while Radical Entertainment and Vivendi Universal had decided to step away from Ang Lee’s film (and the game they made based on that film), they’d retained certain elements, such as how the Hulk moves and looks.  The Hulk’s head is drastically different, however; more chiseled and with shorter hair, both from the comics.  But the animations, how he moves as he runs and leaps and fights—very reminiscent of that film and game, and I think that’s a very good thing.

Oddly, to me anyway, the rest of the game doesn’t look half-bad, either.  The city, though a bit on the boxy side, looks very nice.  The main difference in buildings (that aren’t “landmarks”; E.G., special to the story or setting) are their basic dimensions—height, width, and depth.  There is some coloration difference, but not much.  There isn’t much color difference in the main city at all, really—everything is in shades of blue, green, and grey.  This makes a little sense as it’s perpetually night in the city, but—still.  It’s reminiscent of the Matrix movies, when you’re inside the Matrix.  If you were fine with every blooming thing, color-wise, being really just variations on a green theme, then you shouldn’t have a problem here.

It’s a stark contrast to the desert section—bright, awash in browns and tans, greys in the populated areas, more vibrant greens here and there from scrub brush and other plant life.  It’s odd to me because I’m used to games making the character/vehicle/whatever that the player focuses on looking the best, and leaving the environment in passable detail.  So another commendation for Radical Entertainment, here.

The pedestrians look rather decent, though there aren’t many models for them.  Three males and four females, I believe, though that isn’t counting the enemies.  Generally, each enemy “type” will have one model—one police officer, one military infantry, so on and so on.  Really, you’re about twice as tall as they are, and after the first few missions where you can’t really even sneeze without fifteen missiles streaking at you, you won’t really notice.  That said, they look surprisingly well-detailed for being models mainly meant to only glimpse at as you pound them or the like.

Hang ten!

On the X-Box, the sky looks marvelous.  Seriously.  Sometimes, I admit, I will hop onto a roof in the city just to watch the clouds move, or the ripple of the moonlight on the water.  It’s that beautiful.  The PS2 version’s sky isn’t quite as interesting, but it’s not really meant to be stared at, either, so it might not be a concern.

The draw distance is pretty small on the PS2; you’ll notice the fade-in.  That actually leads to a somewhat humorous event.  If you throw something at another something (say you chuck a car at a pile-up of other cars) it’s entirely possible that some of the bits launched from the ensuing explosion rocket too far for the draw distance, so they disappear.  Fine, normal, even expected.  If you then head closer, sometimes those flaming bits will appear right where they were in mid-air when they disappear, then continue falling.

Another issue with the PS2 is the rare—very rare—slow-down.  Usually it’s when there are a lot of things on-screen on top of a very large explosion.

Sound
Let’s get the music out of the way—it’s bland.  On the one hand, that means it’s completely uninteresting and you could turn the music off completely and, literally, likely never even notice.  On the other hand, though bland, it doesn’t get in the way.  It doesn’t detract from the smashing with its blandness.  So, while not necessarily a compliment to the game play, it at least isn’t a hindrance.  It’s a sweeping score that pops its aural head in now and then, and fades out after a bit.  It’s just—boring, but, again, not intrusive.

The voice acting is superb, but then that’s to be expected with actors like Neal McDonough, Ron Pearlman, Daniel Riordan, Richard Moll, Dave Thomas, and others behind it.  The lines are, as mentioned before, not anything really new or different, but the actors deliver them convincingly enough.  It’s simply a fantastic cast, delivering rather solid performances all around.

After the main cast you have the voices for the random pedestrians and fist-fodder enemies, which are actually surprisingly good.  The main voice-acting there is to be noticed comes in the form of screams, but it works very well.  You’re twelve feet tall, green, and picking up buses and holding them over your head like it’s nothing—and it really is nothing to the Hulk.  That is terrifying.

They really outdid themselves, here.  In many games, the “unimportant” (E.G., not plot-relevant) characters have either lackluster voice-acting or rather loose editing.  No so with Ultimate Destruction—it really feels like they are terrified.  If you’re of a more sadistic bent, you’re sure to enjoy the screams of terror as they get picked up and thrown into a flaming van.  They sound good, believable.  Those voice actors really help the immersion.

Last but not least, there are the sounds of the Hulk.  He sounds great.  He really does.  His grunts and roars sound very good and believable, as with the sounds of him running around, smacking people, yanking up trees.  The sounds of cars exploding under his fists is so good it’s actually rather satisfying.  Over all, it’s a bit “sanitized” as well—there’s a hint of a more “cartoon-y” aspect to the smacking of enemies especially, but not so much as to detract from the thrill of pretending to be a twelve-foot-tall wall of green-skinned rage.  Heck, you probably won’t even think about it much at all (unless you do because I mentioned it here).

Replayability

Quite a bit, perhaps surprisingly.  There are “comic cover” icons to find and collect, which unlock comic covers in the galleries, or give you Smash Points, or perhaps a code to input to get some reward.  Speaking of the rewards, there are quite a few.  If you find every comic in the training area, the city, and the desert, you can unlock Grey Hulk—which is the basic Hulk model, only grey.  You can also unlock Mister Fix-it, which is basically the Grey Hulk in a business suit (it’s a whole thing from the comics), and a variety of shorts themed after national flags from around the globe for him to wear.  Through getting a million (literally) Smash Points you can unlock Savage Banner after the story missions, which, humorously, is pedestrian-size Banner with the Hulk’s abilities.

There are also rotating question marks strewn around the levels, which are “hints”.  If you find all of them (they give really, really basic information, so you aren’t missing anything but the reward if you choose to not hunt them all down), you get fifty thousand Smash Points.  Not a bad reward at all, there.

One of the more fun areas of the game are the Challenges.  You start unlocking them early in the story, and by the end you end up with forty.  There isn’t a specific reward for getting the gold in every one, but doing Challenges is a handy way to get Smash Points, and you can do neat things like use a ball and chain to take down helicopters.  Smashing good fun, if such a bold pun may be used.

Ultimately, the drawing factor of the game is to rampage around, and after you complete the story, you’re given the ability to do just that.  The problem I find is that, as mentioned so long ago, the difficulty spike means that you’re spending more time running away from enemies than on actually smashing things.  The after-story free-roam is really centered around just staying alive.  It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, especially with the dozens of moves purchased via Smash Points, but it detracts from the simplistic fun of smashing for its own sake.

However, an easy fix I personally employ is to have a separate save file, right before “Lightning Strike”.  I suggest that for when you want to simply smash for smashing’s sake.  You won’t have all your abilities, of course (unless you cheat), but you get such a compliment even that early that it’s not a truly large loss.  That’s perfect for when you just want to smash without worrying about dozens of hardcore enemies crawling out of the woodwork to try and eliminate you.

There really aren’t many tangible rewards that alter the game play itself.  A few different skins for the Hulk model (I find the Abomination model looks—well, I won’t go for the obvious pun, but it’s definitely a bit “off”; it’s a larger and differently-proportioned and -jointed creature with the Hulk’s game physics applied; one must also remember that this was before the Norton movie, so if you saw the word “Abomination” and thought of that, I’m sorry) are it.  However, there are a ton of things to see in the various galleries—comic covers, proposed ideas for the models of the characters, and other such things.

Final Recommendation

Six years is a long time in the video game world, and this wasn’t the last Hulk-oriented game made, either.  It certainly wasn’t the first or last free-roam, sandbox-style game out there.  Other games offer more variety to the over all play—but few match the fun of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.  There’s a reason why most of the core game play elements were nearly copied and pasted into the Hulk game based on the Norton movie—it works.  If you have ever played another game and thought about smashing up the environment, now you can.  Most games won’t let you, and some will but it’s either not easy or incredibly limited.  Here, however, the world really is yours for the smashing.

At the end of the day, though, it’s the Incredible Hulk.  That’s the entire game, right there.  This is a fantastic game at what it does—it gives you a character and makes the setting fit that character quite well.  It also promises you freedom, and mostly delivers on it.  It doesn’t have a lot of “depth”, but it doesn’t promise that, and for the gamer who may not have much time to devote that’s actually something of a benefit.  It doesn’t promise subtlety, a complex combat system, or anything else but the ability to wreak havoc on a grand scale.

In dry text, that seems boring—but it’s not.  Imagine leaping onto the side of a building, vaulting over the roof with a growl, then leaping off again to hurtle to to the ground with enough force to make things go flying for half a block.  Then a member of the military starts shooting at you, so you grab a nearby bus and flatten it to use it as a shield until you get into position to use it like a boomerang and smack him.  Oh, there are a few dozen of his buddies—so you throw the shield on the ground and use it to “surf” along a street, until you can get around that building over there and start hurling cars and lamp posts…

It’s very fast-paced, it’s heavy on the action, and it’s extraordinarily fun.

Scoring
Game Play: GOOD
The combat system is simple but very effective, the environment offers quite an array of things to use against other things, and the controls mostly fit how a creature as big as the Hulk is should move.  It’s very easy to stop thinking about what button does what and simply have fun.

Story: AVERAGE
The story itself isn’t really new, but it’s implemented, and displayed, fantastically—mostly.  The voice-over blurbs when you start some missions are a bit weird (is the Hulk remembering this or what?), but serviceable.

Graphics: GOOD
The Hulk himself looks utterly fantastic, as do the environments in general.  There isn’t really much variation in enemies, but before long you won’t be thinking about anything but either getting away from them or smashing them.  Even the vehicles look good—detailed enough to not look bland, but not so much as to really slow the system down overmuch or unnecessarily draw the eye.

Sound: GOOD
The music is forgettable, but the voice acting is superb.  The explosions that you cause are exceedingly satisfying, and hearing the reactions to pretty much anything you do is usually good at least for a chuckle.

Replayability: GOOD
Does it ever really stop being fun to cause wide-spread destruction and panic?  Add in unlockable model skins, an abundance of images to view in the galleries, and more.

Final: GOOD
It’s repetitive, but this is one of the few games where that’s actually a point in its favor.  You smash and smash and smash and smash—that’s what it offers, and it delivers in spades.  On the whole, if you can find it, I can’t really recommend picking it up strongly enough, regardless of familiarity with the character.

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