Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 05/27/03 | Genre: Action
Ah that loveable green guy... no, I am not talking about Kermit the Frog, I am referring to the Hulk. I grew up reading the adventures of Spider-Man and the X-Men and never gave much attention to the Hulk. However, with the popularity of comic book based movies and games, it is no surprise that Vivendi Universal is publishing Radical Entertainment's version of the upcoming movie. Surprisingly, it is a fun--yet shallow--experience.
Instead of making the game so it has the same story as the movie, Radical Entertainment chose to use some elements of the movie and combine it with the popular storyline of the comic. The result is an experience that is quite different from the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster. For those of you who have lived under a rock their whole lives and aren't familiar with the Hulk, he is actually Bruce Banner. Bruce is a scientist and after an experiment, whenever he gets angry, his body grows and mutates into the Hulk. As the Hulk, the player has the ability to smash practically everything seen on the screen. This includes buildings, cars, boxes, doors, windows, etc. Almost anything in the environment, including people, can be picked up and used as a weapon. This provides much variety in the game and allows the player to advance through the game in their own way.
Visually, I was very impressed with what Radical Entertainment has accomplished. The game uses a style of cel-shading that provides a very comic book looking world and characters. This is true in both the gameplay and cinemas. However, the Hulk has a very gritty look to it. The developers accomplish all of the visuals and gameplay without being any more violent than the comic book. This ensures that a large audience will be able to purchase the title with the T rating.
The story in the Hulk is very light. In fact, since the story is so light, you will beat the story mode in well under 10 hours. But during those ten hours, you will find area after area to destroy and advance through. You begin with Professor Crawford calling Bruce and saying he has a cure for his disease. All Bruce needs to do is sneak into the lab he is at before the military completely takes over the building. Unfortunately for Bruce, he is unable to transform into the Hulk because the antidote will not work if he transforms. This leads the players to go through a semi-stealth mission with some annoying timed puzzles. In these puzzles, you must line up numbers by moving two at a time. It isn't very complex and probably shouldn't have been included in the first place. Also, this stealth mission, and the ones included later on, are very unnecessary and feel added on to make the game longer. They serve no purpose. The reason players want to pick up this title is to run around as the Hulk and smash things. Fortunately for us, the stealth missions and annoying timed puzzles don't take up much of the gameplay. This leaves us with what we want... total action.
For the gameplay, Radical Entertainment gives us a very shallow control system that allows for total action. Most of the time, players can run around the screen and alternate two different attack buttons to dish out some "Hulk Smashing Damage!" You can lock-on to an object or enemy... however, this is not really necessary to do for the most part. Only in a few locations will you need to utilize this lock-on button.
No matter which version you get--the PC, Xbox, GameCube, or PS2--they all play the same. This is one trend I really don't like in gaming. Ports are not a good thing--especially when they don't take advantage of what each console can do. The Xbox version looks the best, followed by the PC, PS2, and GameCube. It is quite surprising that even the PS2 version looks better than the more advanced GameCube system. But all versions look almost identical. .. Please won't someone put an end to these "straight ports?"
Overall though, Hulk is a fun, but ultimately shallow action game. While fans of the upcoming movie and comic will want to grab this one up, others may be content to try it out with a rental. And the Hulk is definitely worth at least a rental. I wasn't expecting much out of this movie tie-in and Radical Entertainment did a nice job. While I wanted a bit more, it sure beats the majority of other movie-based games.
Whether you buy or rent Hulk, you need to pick up a copy of BradyGames Signature Series strategy guide for the Hulk. This beautiful guide is packed with 160 pages of tips and tricks to make it through the story mode, defeat all the bosses, provide assistance for getting through the Endurance Modes, Time Attack Modes, and Hulk Smash! Mode. Players will also be able to unlock some cheat codes in the guide and because this is a BradyGames' Signature Series strategy guide, you will find some nice bonus material. Specifically, you will get to see the comic-style story boards and bios from the developers from Radical Entertainment. In the back of the guide is a nice poster of Hulk The Game! This is the only strategy guide you need to master all there is in the Hulk.