This is the kind of fighting game you make when you've never played a fighting game before in your life.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects owes a pretty heavy stylistic debt to 3D brawlers like Power Stone. You're tossed into an arena with one or more other characters, with plenty of local hazards and throwable items, and whoever's still standing at the end is the winner.
To get all the characters and backgrounds for the Vs. mode, which is the real meat of the game, you need to play through Story Mode, which is a mission-based beat-'em-up. As one of several Marvel characters, like the Thing, Wolverine, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Storm, or the Human Torch, you must fight off the aliens who're invading New York City.
As was revealed in a recent limited series from Marvel--which was honestly a much better read than it had any right to be--the aliens are linked to a scientist named Roenkel, who's recently used a powerful and addictive substance to transform several crippled humans into creatures he calls his Imperfects. These Imperfects play a role in the alien invasion, as do some heroes that Roenkel has mind-controlled, and all of these must be defeated if the superheroes want to stand a chance.
On the good side, the graphics are actually pretty good. I'd go so far as to say that some of the Marvel characters have never looked better in a video game. I like the new costume they came up with for Elektra, the Thing's well-done, and Wolverine's decked out in a sort of casual outfit that's leaps and bounds better than his usual yellow spandex.
The Imperfects are... a mixed bag, really. Some aren't bad, like Fault Zone, and the story sequences that introduce them are admittedly kind of cool, as they blend cel-shading, animated sequences, and actual film footage in an interesting and unique way. Some are unthinkably lame, of course, like Johnny Om, but I could honestly see these guys turning up as the villains du jour in a comic book. I doubt they're quite cool enough to hold a reader's interest on their own, but some of them are okay.
The menus and select screens have some good art, too; if I'm not mistaken, it's from Renato Arlem, who did the pencils for the Rise of the Imperfects comic book. All in all, this is a great-looking game.
It plays badly.
This is one of the prime examples of why a game should not try to be too many things at once. Marvel Nemesis is trying to make the same engine work equally well as a fighting game, a platformer, and a beat-'em-up, and in the process, does none of these things well.
You have to play Marvel Nemesis's story mode to unlock most of the content. This is a series of short missions featuring various characters in no particular order, as they combat the aliens and each other. They range from braindead easy (kill a bunch of cannon fodder in three minutes) to jaw-droppingly frustrating (swing from rooftop to rooftop when everyone and their mother is throwing things at you). Sometimes it's an acrobatic platformer like Prince of Persia, as characters start wall-running or swinging overhead, and other times it's a straight-up fistfight.
The biggest problem that Story Mode, and thus Vs. Mode, has is that your standard attacks do next to no damage. To have any real impact on the other guy, you need to either burn super meter, which recharges slowly when not in use, or pick up and throw something at your opponents. Each battleground is littered with throwable objects, like oil drums or furniture, and stronger characters can toss things like cars or vans at enemies. Basically, if it explodes, your best bet is to toss it at the other guy, and if you're lucky, they'll go flying into something else that'll explode. Presto: there goes 70% of their health bar. This results in such bizarre spectacles as Elektra and Storm throwing couches at each other, because stabbing or electrocuting each other just isn't getting the job done.
Basically, if you want to get anything done, you have two options: super throws and throwing things. Some characters may have another option, which is to spend meter on their super attack, like the Thing's earthquake punch or Elektra's throwing knives. That does major damage to wussy alien soldiers, and barely registers on a boss or an opponent in a one-on-one match... unless it's something that could theoretically fling the other guy into something that could explode.
There's also the bizarre decision to make anything other than your basic attacks burn meter, which frankly, makes no sense. Wolverine should not have a time limit on how long he has his claws out, and Daredevil's billy club is not a superpower. I can almost see it for some moves, like Storm or Johnny Om's lightning blasts, but having it work the same way for every character is pretty ridiculous.
This is also one of those fighting games where the CPU has a greater mastery of the fighting system than a human ever will. If you try to enter melee with a CPU-controlled opponent, you'll get poked out of the move nine times out of ten. Playing against the CPU is a constant process of enduring cheap hit after cheap hit until you simply break a car over somebody's head.
Then you get into the really fun part, which is the annoying enemy design. You get boss fights where the boss in question can hit you more or less at will for serious damage without a thing you can do about it, or mission objectives where the object you must destroy is invulnerable for no reason.
Just to top it all off, Marvel Nemesis is missing a few things that, by now, should be standard in any modern beat-'em-up. There's not even a faint pretense of a lock-on ability, so attacks that should hit an opponent will sail harmlessly by him. No character has a screen-clearing 360 move, which has been a standard of brawlers since Double Dragon, so if you get rushed down by a crowd of enemies you can't do anything about it. Did you get hit into a wall? Well, you're dead. Sorry.
Character balance is right out the window, as whoever can throw more and bigger things tends to win. Yeah, that makes sense in this context--Daredevil should not have much of a chance against the Thing--but in any fighting game, no character should simply win at the select screen like this.
This is doubly annoying in some Story Mode matches, like any one of them with Daredevil, who can be killed if something explodes in the same hemisphere as him. Seriously, standing in the wrong place as Daredevil is worth a free 95% combo for the other guy. It's stupid.
Bottom line: Marvel Nemesis is a good-looking game that should've focused on one thing above all others. It might've been a good four-player arena combat game; it could've done all right as a mission-based beat-'em-up; and it's just barely possible that this might've worked as a 3D platformer starring Marvel's characters. As a game that tries to be all of those things at once, it's about as fun as gargling mayonnaise. Avoid it.