NYCC: Marvel & Activision Panel

Sun, February 8th, 2009 at 6:23pm PST | Updated: February 11th, 2009 at 3:56pm

Video Games
Brian LeTendre, Contributing Writer

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Developers Raven Software and Vicarious Visions teamed up on Sunday morning at New York Comic Con to talk about “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (“Wolverine”) and “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2” (“MUA 2”). Dan Vondrak and Mike Gummelt were on hand from Raven Software, (“Wolverine) and Evan Skolnick represented the Vicarious Visions (“MUA 2”) team.

The panel began with the showing of a trailer for “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2” (viewable at CBR, here). The trailer revealed the storyline, which is based on Marvel Comics' Civil War storyline, and opened with a huge explosion at Stamford, followed by news reports of “acts of superhuman negligence.” Through a series of cutscenes, the signing of the Superhuman Registration Act was shown, followed by heroes choosing sides. Captain America, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Spider-Man, Storm, Wolverine, Daredevil and the Hulk all make appearances, and battles between heroes were shown. One of the highlights of the trailer was the new “fusion” effect, where heroes could combine powers to form new effects. Storm and Human Torch combined their powers to form a “fire tornado,” sweeping up enemies and causing burning damage at the same time. The trailer ended with Wolverine surrounded by Iron Man and a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, with Wolverine deflecting a blast from Iron Man and taking out all of the agents at once.

Evan Skolnick of Vicarious Visions, is the lead writer on the game, and also a former Marvel editor (“Dr. Strange,” “Ghost Rider 2099,” “New Warriors”). As he began talking about “MUA 2,” he made it clear from the get go that he could not answer any questions about who would be on the roster of heroes in the game, other than what people saw in the trailer. With that said, he took some questions about the game:

  • What is the process the developers went through for choosing the roster this time around?

    "We pulled data on people's preferences for characters in the last game. We also looked at message boards, looked to the comics, and chose characters that fit the story of the game. We didn't want it to be a total popularity contest, and there are some obscure characters in the game."

  • How do you adapt the Civil War storyline for the game?

    "We ask ourselves what the key moments are. Players get to choose a side. You get to make a choice and experience the ramifications of that choice. The comic opened up doors for new stories, whereas the game needs to provide a satisfying finish for players. Some scenes will be brought to life right out of the books, but there will still be some surprises."

  • How much can we break stuff?

    "Everyone likes to break things. We've brought in Havok physics for the game, everything breaks in realistic ways."

  • How is it different writing for many characters as opposed to one?

    "You don't know what characters people will choose to play as, so you have to write many variations on conversations. We might write 60 or more lines for a single conversation that lasts only a few seconds."

  • How do you make, say, Thor and Storm play differently?

    "Each character feels unique, even if their powers are similar. Every playable character can fuse with every other one in different ways."

  • When you choose a side in the game, will it limit your roster of allies?

    "Gameplay trumps strict adherence to comic storyline. There are a few restrictions (Cap, Iron Man), but the vast majority of players will come with you no matter what side you choose."

  • Are the voice actors from the first game coming back?

    "We're bringing a good number of them back, it's a mix of old and new."

  • Can you carry over save data from the first game?

    "Good question. We're pretty sure there is a plan that links the games. If you finished the first game, our game will know."


The panel then moved on to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” The presentation started with Raven Software's Dan Vondrak talking about the genesis of the project. He told the audience that the development team was fresh off the first “Marvel Ultimate Alliance,” when they heard rumors of a Wolverine game being tossed around. “We said, 'Give us a chance to do something with him, we want to do something brutal, gritty and more true to the nature of Wolverine. We're going to do something no one's ever seen before. Trust us, the fans will want it, they will buy it.'” He then drew a big laugh from the crowd as he looked out and said “So go buy it, don't get me fired.”

The presentation then moved into the trailer and guided demo that was shown to the press on Friday, and that CBR detailed in our preview (see CBR's “X-Men Origins: Wolverine Preview” here).

In between each of the segments in the demo, Dan Vondrak and Mike Gummelt stopped to take questions. Fans applauded after seeing each bit of footage, especially when Wolverine decapitates a chopper pilot by pulling him out of the cockpit and shoving him up into the blades.

Vondrak praised the art team and their use of the Unreal engine, stating “those guys did an amazing job with the environments, really bringing them to life.”

Mike Gummelt talked about the combat system in the game stating that from the beginning, they wanted to make it realistic and brutal. “From the movie, comics, cinematic renders; anything we thought would be cool, we tried to put in there. We tried really hard to make combat feel really smooth and allow you do do anything you want to.”

Vondrak talked about how players will be able to upgrade Wolverine in different ways, based on their play preferences. Wolverine will level up as he kills more and more enemies, unlocking moves, skill points, etc. Players can customize his claw abilities and attacks. Wolverine also has a “Rage Mode,” which allows him to do things like give into a berserker rage in combat, or enhance his feral senses. Players can upgrade this as well.

Here are some of the questions fans had about the game:

  • What sorts of fights inspired you from the comics?

    "Wolverine's fight with the Hellfire Club and the Hellfire guards. A scene from the upcoming movie,where he runs up to guards in the hallway and stabs both at the same time. There is a finishing move in the game where you kill two downed enemies at one time."

  • Will there will be a Wii version?

    "Yes."

  • Will there be large-scale boss battles?

    "Yes, for sure."

  • For “Capcom vs. Marvel” series fans, will there be air juggle moves?

    "Yes there will be air juggles and special moves."

  • Will there be downloadable content?

    "No comment."

  • How much will the game follow the storyline for the movie?

    "95 % of the movie is in the game, plus a lot of other stuff — good comic book content that we put in game."

  • How smart is the AI in wolverine?

    "Smart enough to make it fun. Enemies will perform counters and dodges, later in the game."

The panel ended with Vondrak introducing a piece of footage from the game that has never been seen before: a scene with a gigantic Mark I Sentinel climbing over a wall into a large stockyard. The clip ran into technical difficulties, but it was implied that the scene was the beginning of a boss battle, and the Sentinel looked huge.

TAGS:  nycc2009, marvel ultimate alliance 2, x-men origins: wolverine, activision, marvel comics

 
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