|The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction|
|Publisher(s)||Vivendi Universal Games[a]|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, beat 'em up|
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is an open world action-adventure beat 'em up video game developed by Radical Entertainment and based on Marvel Comics' Hulk. The game was released on August 24, 2005 in the United States and on September 9, 2005 in Europe.
The player controls the Hulk in an open world environment in which the player can visit most locations and interact with the environment while not engaged in missions. The game's bosses include Devil Hulk and Mercy, and the game's main villain is the Abomination.
Boasting "Unstoppable Movement" means the Hulk can run across walls and other vertical surfaces, climb any wall by digging his fingers into concrete, and leap huge heights and distances all under the player's control. Hulk's combat abilities also reflect this increased power; cars and buses are simply smashed out of the way while fully charged attacks will toss vehicles, enemies and unlucky pedestrians into the air. At his most powerful, the Hulk can perform one of five different ultra-powerful Devastator attacks including the Critical Atomic Slam and the Critical Thunderclap. These attacks can clear enemies out for a multi-block radius, flatten entire buildings, and cause a massive amount damage to enemies.
The game includes the voice talent of Ron Perlman, Richard Moll, and Neal McDonough, who reprised his role of Bruce Banner, which he first began in the 1996 Incredible Hulk animated series. It also marks the debut of Fred Tatasciore as the voice of Hulk, a role which he has reprised in numerous video games, animated series, and animated direct-to-video films.
Players are able to unlock different versions of the Hulk including Joe Fixit, Grey Hulk, The Abomination, and a version where Bruce doesn't transform into the Hulk but still contains its rage and powers. Players can also unlock different colored shorts as well.
Scientist Bruce Banner has spent years in semi-isolation researching a potential cure for an affliction that transforms him into the Hulk when he is angered or stressed. He has created an experimental device intended to modify his subconscious and repair psychological damage inflicted upon him by childhood trauma, thus subduing the Hulk as well as another more menacing personality that is emerging within him. Working alongside psychotherapist Doctor Leonard Samson, Banner nearly completes the device, but military forces led by Emil Blonsky destroy his forest hideout. As Banner escapes in the form of the Hulk, Blonsky takes the device from the hideout's remains and receives a dose of gamma rays. Banner regroups with Samson, who equips Banner with a device that implants post-hypnotic suggestions and artificially induces episodes of rage, allowing them a degree of control over the Hulk. Samson sends the Hulk on various errands into the city and the badlands, either to help construct the machine or to hinder Blonsky's ever-growing presence.
Meanwhile, the mutual animosity between Blonsky and his superior General Thunderbolt Ross grows into open hostility due to Blonsky overstepping his authority to secure a mysterious prisoner, "Mission Directive", in a secret military research facility known as the Vault. After an argument with Ross, Blonsky loses control and transforms into a massive reptilian-like creature known as the Abomination. He goes on a rampage until the Hulk arrives and defeats him. As the Hulk escapes, Blonsky returns to normal and claims to his men that the wreckage is the Hulk's doing. The Hulk is sent to a nuclear power plant to obtain fuel rods, and he confronts Blonsky's bodyguard Mercy. Upon her defeat, Mercy attempts to divulge the true nature of Mission Directive, but is killed when Blonsky orders an air strike on the plant. Although Banner escapes with his life, the stress of the situation takes its toll and his evil alter ego, the Devil Hulk, begins to emerge.
Under the Devil Hulk's influence, the Hulk destroys civilian buildings, killing many innocents, under the illusion that Samson is ordering him to destroy military locations. When Samson sends Hulk on a mission to retrieve a package from a military test site, he is lured into an ambush; Samson has sided with Ross, fearing the threat of an out-of-control Hulk. Ross faces the Hulk in a gigantic Hulkbuster mech, which the Hulk destroys. Having no choice, Samson puts the Hulk to sleep with his hypnotic device. Banner is taken to the Vault, where Blonsky prepares to peel open Banner's mind in search of the secret to controlling gamma-based transformations. The agony of Banner's interrogation draws out the Devil Hulk's power, and the Hulk breaks free. Blonsky transforms into the Abomination when the Hulk corners him, exposing his identity to the military. Blaming the Hulk for ruining his life, the Abomination flees the Vault, as does the Hulk. Banner confronts Samson for betraying him, but forgives him when Samson reveals that he used Banner's captivity as a diversion to secure a vital component of the machine. Before the machine can be completed, however, Ross discovers Samson's base and orders it destroyed. The Hulk defends the church as Samson makes the final adjustments. Using the finished machine to venture into his own psyche, Banner defeats and banishes the Devil Hulk.
Meanwhile, the Abomination breaks into the Vault to retrieve Mission Directive. The Hulk follows him, but discovers that Mission Directive is Blonsky's now-deceased wife Nadia and their unborn child; following Nadia's diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Blonsky exposed her to gamma radiation as part of a government program influenced by Banner's previous research. Blaming Banner for Nadia's death, the Abomination departs from the Vault and heads for the local dam, planning to destroy it and the city below. The Hulk and the military pursue the Abomination, but fail to prevent him from breaking the dam. As the Abomination disappears under the rushing current, the Hulk causes a landslide to stop the water and save the city. Despite this heroic act, Ross publicly blames the Hulk for the dam's destruction. Samson, lamenting this turn of events, offers his help again, but Banner turns him down, believing the world will never trust the Hulk, and he sets off on his own.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction received generally favorable reviews on all platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. It remains as the most well-received and most popular Hulk standalone video game to date.
GameSpot praised the game's graphics, sound, boss fights, movements and weapons customization, but criticized the short story, enemy AI and difficulty. IGN enthusiastically praised the game graphics and gameplay, stating, "the move set makes Spider-Man 2 look like Super Mario Bros. and the boss fights are among the most satisfying this year. Mission variety could have been better, though".
CiN Weekly gave it a score of 93 out of 100 and called it "an almost endlessly entertaining game with tons of fun and gratuitous destruction". Maxim gave it a score of eight out of ten, praising it for "a compelling Story mode, written by former Hulk scribe Paul Jenkins, who gives the big guy a reason to use his considerable crushing skills". The Sydney Morning Herald also gave it four stars out of five and stated that "while the battles can get exhaustingly repetitive, most players will have monstrous fun". The Times likewise gave the PS2 version four stars out of five and stated: "Leisurely plucking helicopters out of the sky can be immensely satisfying, as can grabbing a handful of trees to toss around like darts, damning the consequences".