Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Curse of the Vampire


Ice skating uphill

When it comes to adaptations, comic sources are an open book. While it's much tougher to stringently adapt, say, a theatrical series with one entry, comics are a decade-spanning font that offer up endless amounts of narratives and team-ups to choose from.

So when Team Ninja and Nintendo announced that Marvel Knights was going to be a DLC focus for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, people perked up. Moon Knight absolutely deserves a bigger spotlight, but he's not the only one who's a part of this tale. If you can call it a "tale," as it's more like a challenge room delivery system.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Curse of the Vampire review

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Curse of the Vampire (Switch)
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: September 30, 2019
MSRP: $19.99 (part of the season pass)

With Thanos in the bag it's time to move on to newer big bads: in theory.

Instead of actually doing that, Curse of the Vampire's "story" content involves gauntlet mode challenges with a tenuous plotline linking them together. Technically this is what was marketed as "additional story" or "a new story scenario," which everyone reasonably assumed to be new story missions. No, Gauntlet mode (linked challenge rooms) tries to inject some sort of "mysterious vampire force" into the mix with a few Dr. Strange voiceovers while you're fighting off enemies you've seen before in locales you've already visited. Outside of the new characters, this DLC is almost entirely remixed, existing content. If Rodney Dangerfield were here, he'd be pulling at his tie right now.

It's just as dull as it sounds. The way the gauntlet is set up requires you to [typically] beat four challenges in a row, with the same amount of revives, life bars, and team composition. The challenges themselves aren't even that interesting, and mostly just involve the same boss fights in the exact same arenas from the campaign. Very little is done to differentiate them from what you've already played (there's a few series returning or new concepts like resurrecting "reborn" enemies), and completing each campaign set will unlock a new character (Punisher, Blade, Moon Knight, and Morbius respectively).

Basically, what I did after finishing every gauntlet in roughly an hour was restart the game again with the new team of four and had a good enough time playing through most of it, testing them out for this review. Punisher is the standout, as he straight-up just blows people away with a giant arsenal in a serious fashion: an archetype mostly absent from Ultimate Alliance 3 (Deadpool is close, but he's definitely more comical). Morbius is essentially in the same boat, with an over-the-top vampiric flair that culminates in a pair of out-there paralytic stare and claw strike abilities.

Blade has some nice flourishes (I love that his character select pose is the iconic sword tap from the Snipes film series), even if he feels very close to some existing sword-based roster members outside of his bouncing glaive. Moon Knight might be the least exciting of the bunch somehow, but still comes out ahead because of his "Moon Landing" sky-defying grappling hook move. All of them are worth playing, which is good since they're the main focus once the paltry gauntlet is vanquished; but their in-game connection (or lack thereof) would have been much better if it was accompanied by a story romp, no matter how short.

Despite my disappointment with the first DLC (and possibly the structure of the entire season pass going forward if this model is replicated), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has a bright future ahead of it. I had a lot of little issues with the game at launch, but the team has addressed some of them with incremental updates, and the DLC could round everything out over time. This is going to be one hell of a "Game of the Year" package if Team Ninja keeps it up, but so far the pass isn't required reading unless you really love the aforementioned characters.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher]

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Curse of the Vampire reviewed by Chris Carter



An exercise in apathy, neither solid nor liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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