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Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects

For: PSP   Also on: DS

The comic book kings take on the gaming giants; surely this has got to be the fight of the century…

Product: Marvel Nemesis: Rise Of The Imperfects | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: PSP | Genre: Fighting | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc)
Marvel Nemesis: Rise Of The Imperfects PSP, thumbnail 1
The thing about super-heroes is that they can do virtually anything. Whether they're leaping tall buildings in a single bound, catching crooks like flies or slicing through steel with their adamantium claws, we love these fictional folk because their powers are so awesome and their actions unfettered by the petty restrictions that hold the rest of us back (like gravity! – Mike).

Which is why Rise of the Imperfects is quite possibly the most frustrating and disappointing game we've yet encountered on the PSP. Like some comic book super-villain, the game has concocted a nefarious scheme to limit the superhero's powers and simultaneously drain all the fun from one of the year's most promising ideas.

Let's rewind to that initial idea: 20 super-hero characters (12 Marvel classics, 8 EA-crafted newcomers) duking it out in interactive 3D landscapes, unleashing their super-powers, hurling objects and generally smashing up the place as they go... It still excites us now, and we've played the finished game. Yes, we had our hopes raised at the first sight of the gorgeous comic-book presentation of the menus then felt our hearts leap as we made our first steps into the moodily-lit 3D world as The Thing. We enjoyed the awesome thrill of picking up an abandoned taxi cab and hurling it towards our opponent and we optimistically believed that the apparent lack of moves was solely down to our lack of practice with the controls. But most of all, we felt the growing despair as it became clear that, actually, those few moves were pretty much all you had...

To save you going through the same experience, let's make it clear that in the Rise of the Imperfects world the super-heroes are, well, pretty ordinary. Aside from the odd fancy projectile and the ability to pick up heavy objects, their fighting abilities are astonishingly limited. The single attack button produces just a couple of moves and the repertoire is only marginally increased when used in tandem with the jump or 'special attack' buttons. Even the ability to dodge and use parts of the scenery as makeshift weaponry soon lose their novelty as the battles descend into a frantic button bash.

Admittedly the experience does vary slightly from character to character, particularly when comparing the clunking behemoths (Thing, Brigade) with the more nimble battlers (Elektra, Johnny Ohm). Each has different powers and levels of agility, favouring a 'slightly' different approach to fighting. However, even here the game thwarts any plans of experimentation with a locked character system that's simply ludicrous.

Bewilderingly, when you begin the game you're restricted to a choice of just two of the 20 characters, good guy The Thing and bad guy Johnny Ohm. Even more astoundingly, the only way to unlock additional characters is to play through 10 rounds of the campaign mode with one of them. Manage to do so and you'll unlock one more solitary character, although annoyingly it'll be one of your enemies. So, if you played as Thing, then you'll find your efforts rewarded with Brigade, one of EA's forgettable additions.

Perhaps the biggest pain with Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is that it does have some good ideas. Quite apart from the incredible premise, the presentation is universally slick, the addition of bonus cards is quite smart and even the control system works relatively well with its 'automatic facing' button countering the usual problems of 3D fighting games. However, just as super-villains highlight how amazingly good the super-heroes are, these good ideas underline how fundamentally flawed and joyless the experience of playing the game actually is.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is on sale now.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
Reviewer photo
Chris Jame | 4 December 2005
An aptly titled fighting game that'll have comic book fans beating themselves up
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