Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Activision | Xbox

The Marvel universe has tens of thousands of comic characters, a diverse canon that successfully fueled the original Ultimate Alliance but is strangely missing from the sequel. The overhead multiplayer button masher (choose whether to crush wave after wave of enemies with the A, B or X button) features a wide range of heroes and villains, both familiar and obscure, but it has lost some of the depth. For example, each character only has two costume choices, down from four. That’s not simply an aesthetic loss because some costume changes essentially create new characters. Thor for instance could become Beta Ray Bill. It’s not a deal breaker, but the whole thing reeks of future downloadable content—which means shelling out more money. The story pits hero against hero in an arc that loosely follows the Civil War comics but you’ll probably skip past most of it to get to the best part of the game: killing your thumbs. Not every game can inspire caffeine-fueled marathons and this one feels like a middle-school nerd’s Friday night created from an adult perspective. If you’re not crying, “carpal tunnel!” after seven hours of joyfully destroying everything in sight, then you’re missing out.