Superhero games are by nature a mixed bag; knowing full well that many fans will buy them no matter what, some publishers just slap the license on whatever game engine and plot they happen to have lying around, and take the result to the bank. Lately, though, some devoted, talented people have been put in charge of some storied franchises, and the result has been some good games. One such inspired gem is The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. It might be the most purely entertaining superhero game ever.
While Ultimate Destruction doesn't do anything particularly new, it benefits by starting with perhaps the perfect video-game character, and from there, it never puts a giant green foot wrong. Players spend no time as indecisive scientist Bruce Banner; instead, they immediately Hulk out into a fairly interesting but easily ignored plot in which they must stop the Hulk process from being used for wanton destruction. The only way to do this, of course, is for Hulk to smash everything. In story missions, in challenge missions scattered about the environment, and while roaming aimlessly about the badlands and the city, players use tight, intuitive, upgradeable controls for said smashing. Also for hurling puny humans over the horizon, using buses as baseball bats, punting horses, hammer-tossing tanks, belly-flopping off of buildings onto gasoline trucks, and generally devoting hour after hour to giggling, large-scale mayhem.
Beyond the gameplay: There's certainly no shortage of Hulk source material out there, but those looking for the reasons why Hulk smash so much need look no further than the original Marvel comics. The game gets it right: No one really gives a damn about ol' Banner and his non-smash-related inability to make his peace with… Was it his father? Anyhow…
Worth playing for: The endless hours, in missions and in free-roam modes, during which Hulk smash. Also, there's a "taunt" button that does nothing but make Hulk emit glorious thundering bellows. This button should be pressed at all times, or perhaps even held down with tape or rubber bands. If neighbors pound the walls after a few days of this, just turn up the volume and bass on your home theater and press the button again until puny humans stop.
Frustration sets in when: "Defend" and "Escort" missions can be enjoyable in other games, but in this one, they're just a little too difficult. This is mostly because you're a character who never, ever thunderously bellowed "HULK EXERCISE MEASURED AND APPROPRIATE TACTICAL RESPONSE!" or "HULK MAINTAIN HIGH LEVEL OF SITUATIONAL AWARENESS!" Fortunately, there aren't many of these missions.
Final judgment: Exactly what a superhero game should be: fun, colorful, simple, and absolutely in character.