There were a ton of big movies this summer, and although The Dark Knight Rises was a pretty big deal, let’s face it: The Avengers was the star of the season. Featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor and The Incredible Hulk, it was quite the event, for sure.
But the fun didn’t stop this summer, because Marvel has years of Avengers-related stories to tell over the next few years. To keep the hype going, they recently released Avengers Initiative for the iPhone and iPad (which doesn’t include the first-gen iPad, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch), and it’s the first in a series. Is it worth the seven bucks or should you spend your money somewhere else? Let’s find out.
In the universe of the Avengers, there’s this jail for super villains named The Vault. Some jerk set off The Pulse (and what that is I’m not quite sure), and it caused The Vault to pop open and let all the baddies out. The Avengers have to hunt down everyone to put them back in their proper place, so Nick Fury scatters the team across the globe to do their duties.
This game is set to be the first installment of several games, and you play as the Hulk; Bruce Banner’s green alter-ego with the mental facilities of a beagle and the strength of 1,000 Rambos. Your job is to go through a specific region and take out the bad guys by kicking their butts all across the universe. Sounds like fun, right? Hulk likes fun.
What It Is
I could spend a few paragraphs talking about the nature of the game, how it all plays out and what complex features it initiates, but it all boils down to this: it’s Infinity Blade with Marvel characters. The basic mechanics are the same, so you swipe across the screen in various directions to deflect, dodge or strike the opponent, and they all follow a similar pattern of moves — attack until their health goes down halfway, then stagger back, reorient the camera and do it again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
That isn’t to say that the concept is bad, but you should know what you’re getting into. If you loved the Infinity Blade series, then you pretty much know what to expect. In fact, it’s so similar that you punch and claw your way to the top, and if you lose to the bad guy you start right back over at the beginning. Seriously, it’s Infinity Blade, but you’re green and there are no swords.
The game provides most of the movement throughout the level for you, as there is no free-wheeling movement or sandbox environment. These blue circles appear wherever you have the opportunity to move, so you just tap them and stomp off on your way.
You might notice these purple crystals along the way, too. That’s ISO–8, a crystal that’s giving some of the baddies special powers. ISO–8 is the currency in the game, and it allows you to buy costumes, special augments and so on. And of course, there’s some in-app purchasing going on there too, just in case you were expecting a game that you paid $7 for to skip that tacky feature.
To attack, block or dodge, you swipe the appropriate direction or tap one of the buttons on the bottom of the screen. The gameplay here is just like Infinity Blade, so expect the slowed down movements right before an attack, or the power-ups that reside in the upper left corner by your health bar.
This game is pretty, although it’s not the prettiest game I’ve played on my iPad, even with the Retina display graphics. The Hulk looks all veiny and strong, and even his opponents look pretty good (although the fur rendering on Wendigo is pretty lame). That said, the Skrulls look amazing, and Zzzax is phenomenal.
Even though the inspiration is obvious, Avengers Initiative is nowhere near as pretty as the Infinity Blade series. In that game, cherry blossoms and koi fish are seen moving and blowing about the background — not so much with Avengers Initiative. Don’t get me wrong, the characters look great and it’s still a very nice game to look at. But it’s also not setting any records, either.
The Bad Stuff
This game was developed for seemingly every platform in the universe, and I think that means that the developers had to make a few choices that they wouldn’t have made were this an iOS-only game. The game portion of the app is all in a 16:9 format — something not available in the current iPad or iPhone. There’s a Pause button tab that sits in the top center of the screen and it’s an inch away from the bezel. This gets directly into your line of vision, and is very annoying when playing.
Also, this game does get a bit repetitive, just like Infinity Blade (you take the good, you take the bad, I suppose). I played the game for quite a bit, and yes, it is very fun. But man, it gets frustrating to reach the summit and just have to redo things all over again. Also, I’m curious how this app will expand with other characters. Will it be via in-app purchases or will entirely new apps appear? I have no idea.
As a comic book fan and a guy who loves smash-’em-up games, you’d think that Avengers Initiative would fall right into my wheelhouse — and it does, just a little bit. It’s very fun kicking butt with the Hulk, and seeing those famous characters on my iPad does make me squeal a little bit on the inside. But like Infinity Blade, I got tired of the game after a bit, and just didn’t want to play through again and again.
I have hope for the game as a series. Although it’s most likely going to expand via IAP, my secret desire is for free updates to come down with new content as the series expands. What’s more likely is shelling out another $7 to play as Thor or Iron Man. Will it be worth it? Not if the game stays the same, that’s for sure.
If you’re a comic book fan like me, you’ll probably want to buy this game, just because it is really cool to smash things as The Hulk. If not, go ahead and pass. There’s always a new Rovio game on the horizon.