Marvel Interactive on Iron Man and Hulk: New Deal For Comic Book Videogames?
Comic book and videogame fanboys freaked out a little recently when the news broke that Sega would be handling Marvel’s movie-based games. After years of bad Marvel Comics videogames, Activision turned out solid hits that satisfied the mainstream and comic fans alike, such as Spider-Man and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. While the Activision partnership continues, the New York Comic Con panel Marvel – Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk: Making the Video Games emphasized that Marvel themselves were taking a greater hand in game creation.
Justin Lambros, VP of Marvel Interactive, operates out of the same West Coast office as Marvel Studios. The philosophy is that his division can oversee the partners, and with their studio ties they can improve the process by increasing development times, granting access to movie assets earlier, speeding approvals and allow for movie talent participation. They can also relate to the studios what the limitations are of the current systems.
It’s an interesting idea that brings to mind the ’90s buzzword "synergy," but in this case it seems to be making good on its promises. As mentioned in earlier articles, the Iron Man movie-based game producers were granted access to the CGI models for the armor much earlier then usual. Iron Man game director Jeffrey Tseng said that meeting the cast while doing the voices made a difference.
"Robert Downey gave us insights into the character," said Tseng — something they wouldn’t have received with sound-alike voice actors. Also, the action figures for the Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies will feature characters only seen in the videogame adaptation.
Highlights from the panel include:
Mike McHale, senior producer at Sega for the Iron Man game revealed that there are really three versions of the game: One for the current generation systems (PlayStation 3, XBox 360), the last-generation systems (with less flying, Nintendo Wii is included in this group since it doesn’t have the graphics power of the others) and the Nintendo DS. "The DS is one of my favorites," said McHale, since the gameplay is styled after classic arcade games like Desert Strike.
"This is destruction to the ultimate degree," claimed BJ Enriquez, Sega Producer of the Incredible Hulk game. They went out of their way to make a realistic looking city for the Hulk to destroy. And they took elements from the recent "World War Hulk" story that really get across the idea that Hulk is smashing the city. Also the Nintendo DS version will feature more Marvel guest stars than the other versions.
Tseng said that the Iron Man game would include "Choice of a Hero" objectives. They really wanted to get across to the player some of the hard choices that heroes have to make. These are optional tasks that the player doesn’t have to finish to beat the game but they make the game difficulty a lot harder. But they’re also morally the right thing to do.
After the panel, I chatted up the panelists for some exclusive ComicMix info:
For Xbox Live Achievements, expect a lot of the Iron Man goals to be based off replaying classic Iron Man battles from the comics, like beating Iron Monger while wearing the Silver Centurion armor. Gaining achievements in Incredible Hulk is tied into how the Hulk levels up in the game. Sega tried a similar method with the strategy game Universe at War.
Since Tony Stark’s all about the benjamins, Iron Man‘s level-up system will be cash-based. Time, kills and the Hero Objectives all factor into how much money Tony gets after each mission to purchase upgrades.
While Jeffrey Tseng admits anything is possible, don’t expect modders to make
custom missions for the PC versions of the games, since it wasn’t designed with that in mind.
"The editing tools we used are a lot buggier than anything that’s released for the public, " he explained, adding that he personally didn’t work on the PC port.
BJ Enriquez had to stay tight-lipped about downloadable content like new skins or missions since Sega hasn’t finalized those plans, if any. Expect news either way in May. But he added, "As a fan, that’s the kind of thing I’d like to see."