In 2003, Ang Lee’s “Hulk” starring Eric Bana was released in theaters. It received mixed reviews from critics, fans and movie goers alike. Due to underperforming at the box office, plans for a trilogy was cancelled. However, a tie-in video game of the movie was released the same year. Although titled Hulk, it’s actually set after the movie. The game is a slight improvement of Hulk’s big screen debut. Two Years Later, “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” not really a sequel, earned critical praise and is arguably considered as the best Hulk related video game.
An upcoming Disney Plus series titled, “She-Hulk” set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU for short, will stream soon. Mark Ruffalo will reprise his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk.
Today’s review contains some SPOILERS.
Mighty & Savage Aspects
Mighty: Eric Bana reprises his role as the titular character. His performance has improved since the last time he played Bruce Banner/Hulk didn’t feel quite right. It’s not his fault the film was underwhelming. Blame Ang Lee and the screenwriters. Too bad Eric is disinterested in coming back in the MCU in a multiverse story arc.
Voice Actors all have decent performances.
Hulk’s gameplay is basically a throwback to beat-em up games as you fight your way through a variety of foes using your super strength.
Graphics at the time still look good for a PlayStation 2/Xbox game. They resemble something from a comic book. Cutscenes are also as good as the graphics.
Combat gives you the opportunity to strike down your enemies. Hulk’s combos really come in handy. Once you charge up his rage meter, you can unleash a powerful charge attack by hitting the ground causing a massive shockwave or a bigger version of his thunder clap by making your foes fly into the air. You can picks up objects as weapons.
Hulk’s roars sounds like a ferocious beast. In the film, his roar sounds an awful lot like Chris Farley screaming at the top of his lungs. I didn’t get chills, I was laughing so hard.
Unlike the movie, the game actually stays true to the source material something Ang Lee failed to research Hulk’s lore.
Enemy types felt organic. Military soldiers, enhanced gamma soldiers, tanks, robots, helicopters, turrets etc. As you progress, you will be up for a challenge.
Hulk’s rouge gallery from the comics are The Leader, Ravage, Half-Life, (not the video game series) Madman & Flux. They serve as bosses. I think they’re the best part of the entire game.
Soundtrack has some good instrumental pieces.
Cheat Codes can be obtained in certain levels or you can look them up on The Internet. You can unlock Gray Hulk. If you play as him, his dialogue is funny as heck. Marvel Studios needs to include him in She-Hulk or a stand alone Hulk sequel.
As you progress, you unlock extra content including a behind-the-scenes video of the game/movie concept art/photographs from the movie, challenges and the aforementioned cheat codes.
Physics in the game are another good thing. Environment can be destroyed or use inanimate objects as weapons giving you a golden opportunity to smash walls, cars, military weaponry and barriers.
In the first level, there’s a diner called, “Kirby’s Spring Station.” Named after legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby.
Set years after the film, Bruce attempts to cure himself. Things go awry when his mentor Crawford takes a sample of his gamma DNA inside an orb, transforms into Ravage. He decides to take the orb to The Leader so they can use it as a weapon creating an army of gamma radiated soldiers. With no other choice, it’s up to Bruce to save the world and prevent Leader’s goal from becoming a reality.
2003 was a trend for characters prone to getting angry. Besides Hulk many hotheads were featured in movies/shows/video games like David Buznik from “Anger Management,” Wolverine in “X2: X-Men United,” Stitch in “Stitch The Movie,” Raven from the original “Teen Titans,” Yusuke from “Yu Yu Hakusho,” Homer Simpson in “The Simpsons: Hit And Run” Jak in “Jak II,” Willie from “Bad Santa,” Raphael in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003,” Tasmanian Devil, Marvin The Martian and Yosemite Sam in “Looney Tunes: Back In Action,” Goku and Vegeta in “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2” & Gimil in “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.” That’s enough to fill in a group therapy.
The last scene with Bruce hitchhiking is a nod to the 70s TV series starring Bill Bixby & Lou Ferrigno. All it’s missing is the ending theme song known as “The Lonely Man.”
Savage: Gamma Dogs make their return as enemies standing in your way. Looking back at this game, gave me cringeworthy flashbacks of Hulk fighting gamma radiated dogs. I couldn’t take it seriously.
There’s no mention of Bruce’s father David. I believe the game didn’t want to give away the movie’s plot points. I’ll let this flaw slide.
Bruce Banner’s gameplay is absolutely frustrating. His stealth based levels are not pretty good. When I was a kid, I kept losing by getting caught by a number of enemies. Bruce’s health is fragile. If you get overwhelmed or can’t run for your life, you’re boned. Now I fully understand why Bruce isn’t playable in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction despite he’s an unlockable cosmetic.
A mini-game involving letters and numbers to match a code is painfully difficult. If you’re not a fan of solving a code with short time limit. You’re gonna feel overwhelmed.
Story’s length can be completed in 3 Hours. Could’ve been improved if the developers allow you to play as Hulk’s rouge gallery in their unique levels.
After you rescue Betty, her storyline being infected with gamma energy is never resolved. Bruce & Betty’s relationship is doomed.
The Final Verdict: C, FOR Cluttered!
From my perspective, the video game of Ang Lee’s Hulk is a mixed bundle of meh. As a kid, I used to like this game. Now that I’m older, some of its mechanics didn’t hold up so well. If you still own a PS2 or Xbox, maybe give it a replay as a sign to look back at nostalgia?