Reviewed: June 17, 2003
Released: May 27, 2003
The brutish green man has landed on the GameCube and he has landed hard. The Hulk is a comic book readerís dream come true but ultimately he leaves you feeling more like Dr. Banner with his post Hulk hangover. Donít get me wrong, I really like this game but the main character is a little bit limited in what he can do. Hulk Smash! Thatís it. When you first play the game you are amazed and thrilled at the sheer power of the giant green man but at the end of the day you can pretty much count on The Hulk to smash things. Not that this is bad but it gets a little old after a while.
Donít let the opening paragraph scare you away. The Hulk is a fine game and is definitely worth buying at the reduced used price. It is just hard for you to give yourself completely to a game with such limited action. After a few hours of play you settle into a gamerís deja vu because the gameplay remains pretty much the same from beginning to end.
On the definite plus side is the amount of stuff The Hulk can smash. If it is in the game, the odds are that The Hulk can in some way interact with it. Crates, barrels, pipes, enemies and chunks of wall are just some of the things that can be used as projectiles or weapons in the giant green hands of The Hulk. The level of interaction in this game is unparalleled. Sometimes it is just fun to see what you can break. Now that I have touched a little on the gameplay letís just continue on to that section.
As previously stated, The Hulk smashes. He smashes his way through several different modes of gameplay. The game has a Story Mode and a Challenge Mode where you can guide The Hulk through multitudes of mayhem. All of these modes are easy to access via the basic menu system and controlling the action is skill that is quickly learned.
The Story Mode is the meat and potatoes of The Hulk and carries you through 25 levels of mayhem and mischief. This game mode takes place after The Hulk movie and continues the story line. Your quest in this mode is to stop The Leader from creating gamma creatures and eventually taking over the world. Ahh, the old save the world scenario again. By selecting one of three difficulty levels you begin your mission to defeat The Leader. Along the way you will meet up with enemies like Ravage, Half-Life, Madman, Flux and The Leader himself. You will also face hordes of gamma guards, gamma dogs and military robots. Each of these enemies is hell-bent on stopping The Hulk.
While progressing through the Story Mode you will use various attacks to ward off your enemy attackers. The moves are pretty basic and include punching, kicking and grabbing things. The punch attacks are all done with combinations of the B button and the grappling is done with the X button. Once you start your punch or grapple attack different combos of the various buttons will allow you to perform many different attacks like the Sonic Clap and the Overhand Smash. When you collect enough red power-ups you enter Rage Mode and these attacks become devastating.
The other part of the Story Mode, and one Iíd like to forget, is the Dr. Banner stealth missions. During various phases of the Story Mode you must, playing as Dr. Banner, sneak through levels while being careful not to transform into The Hulk. The stealth levels can be a little tricky and there are puzzles to solve so they arenít all bad but when youíre playing a game centered around The Hulk the last thing you want to do is sneak around. This is the extent to which I will cover the stealth portions of the game because they donít play a huge role in the game.
The best part of this game, for me, was the Challenge Mode. The Challenge Modes are unlocked by defeating the bosses during the progression through Story Mode. Once unlocked you can pound on enemies and objects till you drop from exhaustion. The Challenge Mode offers you three types of games, which are Endurance Mode, Time Attack Mode and Hulk Smash! Mode. In Endurance Mode, there are two levels in which you fight as long as you can against a never-ending onslaught of enemies. During the Time Attack Mode you destroy as many enemy soldiers as you can the allotted time. The best mode, Hulk Smash! Mode, allows you to destroy as much as you can in the allotted time. These modes are the most fun because you do nothing but destroy and decimate anyone or anything in your path.
The cut-scenes and in game movies are nicely done and help to advance your investment in the story. The Hulk definitely has a comic book feel to it and being able to play as the eternally angry Hulk helps to keep your interest throughout the game. Overall The Hulk has some solid gameplay and is worth buying just to crush things.
The artists at Vivendi should be commended for their work. The graphics, while not the greatest ever done, are better than average. The characters and scenery are impressive and in some places, true to the movie. The latest trend of allowing game creators on the sets of movies will only help to improve future movie-based games. What was once just a feeble attempt to follow the story line of a movie is now progressing to the point where movie plots are being forwarded by the games. This new approach to movie tie-in games will improve games immensely because with all of the latest developments in CGI technology the games will eventually look just like the movies themselves.
Enough rambling, letís continue with the graphics section. The best part of the graphics portion of The Hulk is the interactivity with the environment. The animation of the destruction of objects and enemies is very realistic. Objects act differently when they are destroyed depending on how they are destroyed. Whether you punch an object or throw something at it will determine how the animation occurs. This is the same for your opponents. Where you throw or hit an enemy will produce different results. Nothing will release a little pent up frustration like tossing a gamma guard at one of his comrades and then watching both of them tumble along the ground.
The scenery and locations are quite detailed and because of the access granted to the game producers from the movie producers there is an eerie resemblance to many of the movie clips Iíve seen. According to one of the extras on the game, Vivendi was able to recreate the underground military base with the help of the movie set as a model. This marriage of movies and games will only help both, as there will be continuity for the viewers and gamers. To further this, the interaction you have with these sets is the best Iíve seen. The underground military base allows for a lot of smashing and many objects to use as weapons. Whether picking up debris from a mangled door or pulling a giant steam pipe off the wall and swinging it like a bat, you will definitely enjoy the carnage and destruction caused by the big green man.
There is not a whole lot to say about the sounds in The Hulk except for one thing - the speech. The only thing that gets this game itís 7.0 rating is the fact that the voice of Dr. Banner is voiced by the star of the movie, Eric Bana. Without him there is just nothing worth noting about the sound. In fact all of the voice acting in the game is very good and itís a shame some of that quality work didnít spill over into the sound effects and music.
The music in the game is a monotonous military/suspenseful tune that seems to drone on and on. This game could have improved a little with a kicking soundtrack that would help draw the user into the intense nature of this game. Sometimes a little good music will go a long way. It certainly would have here.
The sound effects in the game were sub-par and seemed to be recycled too often. The soldiers in the game seemed to have about five phrases that would be repeated over and over until they were almost predictable. The crashing sounds and gunfire seemed to lack that extra quality of realism that would have been greatly appreciated. Lastly, the groans and roars coming from The Hulk himself grew old very fast. I realize that grunting and groaning is the extent of The Hulkís vocalization but try to mix it up a little bit for a change of pace. With all of this said if you are buying this game for the sounds you have bigger problems to contend with.
It was very difficult to place a value on this game and in the end it came down to one deciding factor. That factor was the "out of the closet" factor. What I mean by this is that The Hulk is one of those games that you keep because every once in a while it is fun to pull it out of the closet for a smashing good time (pun intended, sorry). This is not a game that you will devote countless hours to but it is a fun distraction on those days where you have limited playing time and are looking for maximum fun.
Beyond that there is very little replay potential for this game because once you have played through the story there is little incentive to do it again. You will however find yourself yearning for a fun time with the Challenge Modes. Those are the kind of senseless smashing games that can fill in a few minutes when youíre pressed for time.
Overall, The Hulk is a fun and well-designed game. What it lacks in fancy music and top-notch graphics it makes up for by allowing you to slip on the green skin of The Hulk and crush everything in sight. While it wonít be the kind of game you will play for many days straight, it is a fun distraction and worth the money at a discounted price. Wait for some folks to trade in their copies and then go get a bargain on some real fun.