The big mean green machine known as The Incredible Hulk has smashed his way into the box office. And as all Hulks are wont to do, he’s looking to break more stuff and has turned his eyes toward your PS3 and Xbox 360. Worry not, though, as the Hulk’s rage will cause mindless glee in your heart and won’t require tech support.
The Incredible Hulk is about smashing things. When you aren’t smashing things, you’ll be protecting allies by smashing things, defeating enemies by smashing things, playing mini-games about smashing things, and unlocking concept art… by smashing things. Obviously, the Hulk loves to smash, and you will too after playing this game.
The presentation of The Incredible Hulk video game is done with comic book-style flair. The city you will be harassing isn’t the friendly New York City; rather, it’s the Marvel Universe equivalent with landmarks such as Stark Tower and the Baxter Building. However, all the real-world landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and United Nations, are also available for leveling into the ground. The city isn’t alive on a GTA IV scale, but it’s realistic enough in terms of size and scale. You are able to destroy any and all buildings in the city, but they will be rebuilt upon loading up your game or entering a mission.
The gameplay itself is literally a smashing good time. You can destroy pretty much anything in the environment and probably use it as a weapon, too. Hulk can upgrade his abilities through the use of Feats, which require you to kill a certain number of enemies, jump a lot, beat a boss, etc. It’s a new spin on upgrading and, in my opinion, far superior to the systems of collecting money or points that many games use. You have the option of doing story missions or mini-games, the latter being completely optional. The story is relatively easy, with the occasional escort mission providing some frustration. The mini-games range from the fun (Whack a Mole and Darts) to the painful (Checkpoint Races). Fortunately, the mini-games are only required for a Feat or two, and Xbox 360 Achievement hounds are the only ones who’ll really be motivated to get gold medals in them.
The enemies Hulk will face are either from the Army (good guys making bad decisions) or the Enclave (bad guys making bad decisions). The Army will try to stop you if you’re destroying buildings or hurting pedestrians. They’ll throw jeeps, tanks, helicopters and even robots to try and stop the Hulk from destroying the city. The Army is generally easier to fight, with the exception of the Hulkbusters. These things come at you after you max the Threat Level and will probably kill you. The Enclave, on the other hand, prefers to use weird ray guns and mutants to destroy the city and the Hulk.
Overall, the combat is relatively simple given the Hulk’s combo attacks, weapon use and ability to heal. If you ever die, it’ll be due to strength in numbers. The bosses are big, nasty and memorable, but they won’t usually require more strategy than “Hulk Smash!!!” At least they mix up the action a little bit.
The audio in The Incredible Hulk video game is worth mentioning, both because it’s very satisfying and the game’s worst feature. Citizens will scream in terror, enemies will roar in pain, and vehicles will explode soon upon your arrival. However, this game has some of the worst voice acting ever recorded. This is confusing, considering the game enlisted the actual actors from the big screen to supply the voice work. The characters will utter lines such as “I will save him!” or “You will die!” as if they were sitting in a taxi mumbling to themselves. Method acting, perhaps?
On the Xbox 360, Achievement hunters shouldn’t expect an easy 1000 from this title, as the developers seemingly did everything in their power to prevent it. Some of the mini-games are very frustrating, there are 100 health upgrades and 100 rage upgrades to collect (although finding them is made slightly easier due to their rather loud beeping), you’ll have to sit around and wait for the Enclave to develop weapons before you can smash them, and some Feats actually require you to have an Ironman save game to unlock. You read that right. As if Achievements weren’t evil enough, now they’re being used to “encourage” people into buying games. I call shenanigans on that one.
Still, The Incredible Hulk offers plenty to do, but everything usually narrows down to smashing. The formula’s worked for years, and it works in this game too. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find something to smash.