Publisher: Universal Interactive
Developer: Radical Entertainment
N Amer - 05/27/2003
The Hulk Review
The Hulk is a simple guy. He likes to stroll around with his shirt off, prefers walking barefoot, and is a slave to pent up anger. Turn ons? Long walks on the beach and smashing everything in sight. Turn offs? Aggressive Army men and people who get in his way. It’s this simple code that Hulk lives his life by, and it’s the simple premise to this simple game.
The Hulk, based on the Marvel Comics character and Universal feature film of the same name, has plenty of action and fighting, but isn’t quite as smashing as it could be thanks to a few flaws that are too obvious to overlook.
The story really doesn’t drive the game at all. It’s a mix mash between storylines in the movie and comic books, and seems to be the game only because there is supposed to be a story. The main premise of the game sees Banner defying the dreams of every young boy by attempting to relieve his body of the gamma radiation that turns Banner into The Hulk. In order to do so, he must hunt down Ravage, another radiation-infected wimp who can transform into a mammoth beast.
The Hulk starts off rolling. Immediately, Bruce Banner transforms into The Hulk in a dream that serves as a basic Hulk tutorial. After getting used to the controls with a healthy dose of destruction, the game focuses on The Hulk’s wussy alter ego, the mild-mannered Bruce Banner. The game continues on this path, alternating between the Bull-in-a-China-Shop Hulk missions and sneaky stealth missions of Bruce Banner.
The smash-happy Hulk missions are fairly simple: smash, punch, and jump your way from one level to the next. In The Hulk’s way are an endless amount of army men (seriously, the guys never stop coming), some enlarged radioactive dogs, and a few mutated soldiers among other enemies. There’s little need for advanced AI in this button-mashing game, and defeating a room full of enemies takes brawn, not brains.
The combat system is basic, but provides hours of fun. In addition to simple punch and kick combinations, The Hulk can grab opponents or objects and use them as weapons. There’s nothing like picking up a guy, punching him in the face with a huge green fist, and throwing him into his friends or tossing him off of a building. The Hulk can also pick up cars, concrete blocks, and just about anything else he can get his mitts on. When wielding an object, Hulk can use it as a smashing weapon or hurl it with amazing accuracy thanks to an easy targeting system. When not punching or throwing things, The Hulk can clap his hands sending a sonic boom towards his enemies or pound the ground causing shockwaves that knock enemies to the ground, just as Roseanne Barr in her prime could.
Defeating enemies yields a bountiful booty of health powerups and rage powerups. The rage powerups help fill up the rage meter, which allows the big guy to perform special moves and add a little more oomph to his attacks.
The Bruce Banner missions are all about stealth and timing. While this back-and-forth moving between different styles of missions should represent Banner’s bipolar mind in the game, the stealth missions end up just being boring and are only tolerated to get to the next Hulk mission. There’s no Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid element to the Banner missions. Banner has the super-stealthy moves of crouch, and… well… he can crouch. Banner must use his stealth skills to sneak by guards, avoid spotlights, and do some minor puzzle solving that even the pea-brained Hulk could solve.
Playing The Hulk is like watching the old Hulk TV show reruns over and over, a repetitive mess. The Hulk missions are fun enough to play without paying attention to the fact that it’s basically the same thing, but the Banner missions are simply a pain. The game isn’t very long, hovering around ten hours of gameplay, and not even a difficult ten hours at that. Beating the game is a matter of putting in the time rather than developing skills, a trend that diminishes replay value. Regardless of what the other green guy, Kermit the Frog, says, it IS easy being green in The Hulk, a little too easy.
The Hulk does utilize a fixed position camera, commonly referred to as “Devil May Cry View”, and it has its share of flaws. I’ll never approve of fixed cameras, but producers seem to throw them in games anyway. The camera is fixed to give players the best view of the action, but that takes away some of the freedom of the game. The game looks great if you are in the middle of the room, but doesn’t move well to allow for gamers to stray off the beaten path or look in corners.
The Hulk does offer a challenge mode as an alternative to story mode, but it won’t enthrall little Hulksters as much as the single-player campaign. In the challenge mode, gamers can crush wave after wave of enemies in Endurance mode, squish enemies quickly in Time Attack mode, or smash environments in Hulk Smash. As you can see, these extra modes don’t have much variance and really aren’t going to take up too much playing time.
Maintaining a comic book feel, the developers decided to use cel-shading for the major characters. This technique works well for The Hulk and other villains, but fails when used for human characters such as Banner or General Ryker. The environments aren’t jaw-dropping, but they suffice among the intense action and are thankfully very interactive.
The sound isn’t exactly hulking in comparison to other games. The Hulk will roar, cars will explode, and enemies will chatter, but nothing really jumps out of the speakers. Eric Bana who plays Banner in the movie does provide the voice for the videogame counterpart, but it’s doubtful that gamers will even pay attention to what he says.
The Hulk is billed as an action/stealth combo, but the stealth portion is so underdeveloped that The Hulk is really an interrupted action title that suffers from intermittent stealth missions. While the action portion is fun and the game does a great job of making gamers become The Hulk, it’s repetitiveness and brevity ultimately make this game an ideal rental.
Being The Hulk is an absolute blast. It’s the other half of the game that really slows this action title down. The Hulk is a great rainy day diversion, but isn’t a serious gamers game. The ease of the game may be fitting for younger kids, but anyone who’s looking for a challenge should look elsewhere.
The cel-shading graphics are often hit or miss, but they do do a fine job of bringing the comic book to life. The game does move quite smoothly, with no noticeable glitches or stutters, even when many characters are on the screen at once.
The average soundtrack accompanied by average sound effects doesn’t beg to be listened to.
There isn’t a whole lot more to the game than punching and minor stealth tasks. The game just throws enemies at the green guy for about ten hours, and then it’s done.
Nice idea to mix some Banner stealth with The Hulk’s rampages, but it just doesn’t work well enough. The concept of the game is a mix between the movie and the comics, and but the story just isn’t attention-grabbing.
If you’re looking for a simple beat ‘em up game, The Hulk is perfect. Unfortunately, that is all The Hulk really is. Marvel Comics fans will be very happy playing as The Hulk, but most gamers will find it uninspiring.
GameZone Review Detail
Marvel Comic’s biggest green machine makes his GameCube debut in the action title from Universal, The Hulk.
Reviewer: Tim Surette
Review Date: 06/08/2003