Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dispatch From Rome: The Sequel

Things are buzzing in Rome, the city of Romans. Correspondent Tom Bissell has been making the most of his time there. Just the other day he spent 10 hours playing a videogame called Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Before we get into the details, I want to tell everyone that I still haven't mastered "paragraph breaks" - a personal failure that I know makes it hard to read some of the longer "posts." Don't be sad! Just do the best you can. That's all anyone can ask! With that, we hand it over to Mr. Bissell and his Roman adventures: "I continue to find Thor disappointingly unpowerful," writes Mr. Bissell. "Though I like his Beta Ray Bill alternate uniform very much. I also love Captain America's World War II uniform (with his non-round, shield-shaped shield), and Daredevil's yellow-and-red uniform. I have yet to play Colossus, Ms. Marvel, Electra, Spider-Man, and the Thing. My current team is Daredevil (orginal uniform), Black Panther (new uniform, since the classic uni has a cape I don't like), Doctor Strange (classic uni), and Human Torch (original uni), who is also possibly the single most devastating player in the game. Alternates are Wolverine (original uniform, though sometimes I switch to classic), Storm (mohawk Storm), Moon Knight (new uniform, which is kind of awesomely ugly), and Ghost Rider (original uniform), who's awesome because he has the ability to spontaneously raise the dead if someone dies. To unlock Ghost Rider, you have to trade a teammate's soul for his when you find him in Mephisto's lair/hell. After much reflection, I decided to trade Captain America's soul. I figured Cap would have volunteered himself, given that the remainder of the team--this was my first time through--was Wolverine, Spider-Woman (black and white Secret Wars uniform), and Luke Cage (original uniform), none of whom are noted for their powerful consciences. So yes, while I live in Rome, this is about all I've been doing for the last two days. I have several things I need to write, and yet moving tiny little childhood heroes of mine around magnificently detailed little worlds, while beating up villains, is more compelling than Rome at the moment... I have recently infected another fellow here with the game--another comic book fan from way back. We played until three AM last night. We agreed that it is a good thing this game came out now, when we're in our early thirties, because had it come out when we were thirteen we may 1) have never lost our virginity and 2) killed ourselves out of the recognition that life would never offer us anything this awesome again. My friend can't believe you really get to go to Atlantis and the Skrull world, and Latveria, and Arcade's Murderworld, etc., etc. I can't either. It really is like a dream come true... All the characters have special moves, powers, exactly analogous to their comic book personas. Unlike a lot of fighting games, they are easy to pull off; this isn't one of those games that feels like Simon Says-esque memorization challenges. As for the moves, Moon Knight throws tiny little sharp crescent moons, and whips out the nunchucks to wail on ass. Wolverine has a great move called "Evisceration." Captain America throws his shield around, devastatingly. Luke Cage smashes people's faces into the ground. Ghost Rider has a move that sets people's hair on fire, after which they run around screaming. Move's name: "Fear." Awesome. Also, the graphics are absolutely beautiful. The intersticial cut-scene movies between boards are almost as good looking as a film, believe it or not. One more plus: the voice talent is more blast-from-the-past-type coolitude. Lady Sif, from Asgard (Thor's old girlfriend), is voiced by none other than Escape from New York's Adrienne Barbeau. Mr. Fantastic is voiced by An American Werewolf in London's David Naughton (who played the American werewolf in London [which come to think of it may be my favorite movie title of all time]). Excelsior!"