Marvel: Avengers Alliance: A Review

      So, believe it or not, yes, this is a review, of a Facebook game, BUT WAIT-WAIT-WAIT-WAIT-WAIT, don’t leave yet, I promise, it’s not what you think. So, as we all know, online games have been on the rise, with games like: Angry Birds, Farmville, Words With Friends, and Tetris Battles, these ratings have been higher than ever, with downloads reaching astronomical numbers on smartphones and computers alike, it appears that the games we know and love are entering an online phase, which could be bad, but that’s an article for another time, right now, the point is, Marvel decided to try and cash in on this cash cow phenomenon and DAMN did they do well, not only is the game great and more than playable and addictive, but it is definitely a money-maker for the company with plenty of things to buy using your fancy magic money card. Marvel: Avengers Alliance is actually a pretty solid game, the story takes place somewhere in the future in the Ultimate universe after the full assembly of the Avengers, it appears that a comet has hit earth and created a “pulse” which contains powers and it opening up portals and causing all kinds of problems and also creating a ruckus because the pieces of the comet, called Iso-8 pieces contain power within them to make the user: stronger, faster, sturdier, more accurate, you name it, an Iso-8 can do it, ranging from tiny shards, to large chunks, each collected piece can be equipped to your character (be careful, this is permanent for the current costume they are wearing) to make them stronger in a certain asset, or a certain number of assets, some strengthening just one significantly, others strengthening a number of assets in a decidedly lower amount.

     As you can guess from just that short statement, this is something of an RPG, and it is, a very interesting one, the battles pan out in numbers of 3v3 or lower (but you can battle multiple waves in one encounter) and you start with a custom-made S.H.I.E.L.D. agent character of your choosing, you get to choose his or her physical attributes and outfit them with whatever weapons and armor you see fit as you go along: your character can reach level 100, but your hero partner characters can only reach level 12, which is a relief once you see how much leveling them up costs. The game uses a turn-based system in battle, much like the classic RPGs of old (where did they go?) where your current character picks a move and does it on either the whole group, either of the enemy or yourself, or on a single character, there are critical hits, dodges, buffs, de-buffs, status changes, recharges, types (which play a very complicated game of rock-paper-scissors) and a myriad of moves, each partner character has four, and your character gets four weapons slots, plus a whole slew of items that can only be accessed in combat if your character is alive. There is also a PvP section of the game where you can go head to head with other players, but it’s not much of a head to head match as the opponent characters are always controlled by the A.I., which is a little disappointing, they can do it for Tetris Battles, so why not this? The PvP is a little pointless as it gets you exceedingly minimal experience so as you could go through the game without touching it and still do fine, but there is an interesting upgrade system that adds offense and defense bonuses to your characters in battle which are gained by adding items, weapons, and armors to your bonus section of the PvP menu, these directly affect how much damage your characters do and can take in battle, but sadly it only affects the PvP section of the game which feels like a wasted opportunity for something bigger to me. There’s also an interesting research section, where you can use Silver (one of the types of currency in the game) and S.H.I.E.L.D. points to research various types of things such as Personal Defense, Unarmed Combat, Advanced Genetics, and different types of side-arms; this will in turn unlock new weapons, armor, items, and even abilities for you to buy in the store, which is unfortunately over-priced as hell, so it usually comes from getting them in a special recon mission (placed throughout levels) or acquiring them during combat (sometimes enemies drop items in combat) or after you beat a boss which gives you a lottery-type menu in which the game randomly gives you a power-up, weapon, or amount of currency. Currencies and experience are also gained through attaining star levels on missions: ranging from one to five stars, typically you need only one star to advance to the next mission, though the higher the star level the better the reward you will receive upon completing it. At one star you get 250 Silver, at two stars you get 1,000 Silver, at three stars you get 100 experience, at four stars you get 1 gold, and at five stars you get 5 command points; obviously the rewards are rated in scarcity of the resource in the game. The game is moved forward through energy (required to start an encounter, you start with sixty energy and each encounter takes ten energy), S.H.I.E.L.D. points (used to do research and level up characters), Command Points (used to purchase new partner heroes and new costumes for partner heroes), and Gold (used mainly to purchase super special items in the store or turned into Command Points).

     The game itself is actually very lengthy, and believe it or not, in depth, each mission has a particular part of the story to it, and each chapter contains a larger part of that story, and on each chapter you can access prime missions which require a certain partner hero to access, but which reaps much harder enemies and thus much higher rewards in the mission, but not in the star rewards. If every mission is completed with five stars in a chapter, including the prime mission, then you get a super rare item to use, thankfully, these are typically worth the very frustrating work of grinding through six missions to get to five stars on each. There are currently seven chapters (three more in the makings coming soon) making for a current grand total of forty-two missions, with a potential mission cap of seventy, that’s quite a lot of missions and in-depth story for a Facebook game. Recently, they also added a special mission section called Spec-Op missions, this currently only consists of three missions released for a limited amount of time, but they are very hard and very demanding, but upon acquiring five stars in each you get a new unique hero for your roster, a very innovative idea, I must say. I think they were really trying hard here, and it shows in: the gameplay, the story, the amount of missions and chapters, as well as the interesting and in-depth character design and partner hero count and design. Speaking of hero characters, each character has a specific fighting style, the henchmen and enemies each have their own style, too, making a complicated game of rock-paper-scissors, the six types are: Blaster, Bruiser, Tactician, Brawler, Infiltrator, and Generalist. Blasters counter Bruisers, Bruisers counter Brawlers, Brawlers counter Infiltrators, Infiltrators counter Tacticians, and Tacticians counter Blasters, each counter has a specific effect which I’ll let you figure out on your own by exploring the game. While we’re on the subject heroes, here’s a quick rundown of every partner hero character you can get in the game:

Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Nightcrawler, Thor, Black Cat, Captain America, Colossus, Cyclops, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Shadowcat/ Kitty Pryde, Luke Cage, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel, Jean Grey/Phoenix, She-Hulk, Sif, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Storm, The Thing, War Machine, Wolverine, and Mockingbird (Spec-Ops mission five stars to unlock)

     All of these partner heroes can be unlocked with Command Points which are gained: in combat from enemies, from completing boss battles, from getting five stars in a mission, and from turning Gold into Command Points. The only heroes not requiring Command Points to unlock are: Mockingbird (Spec-Ops mission), Iron Man (free), Black Widow (free), and Hawkeye (free), and eventually you get to pick a free hero after reaching a certain level or completing a certain number of missions, these heroes include: Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, She-Hulk and Cyclops, but you can only pick ONE for free, the rest you have to pay for. Some of these heroes have alternate costumes, The Avengers cast had a special costume that was released for a little over two weeks that gave them coordinated attack and cooperative defense powers in combat, letting them attack and defend together, other costumes will either just look cool or change the hero’s fighting style. The costumes, just like your character’s equipment can be changed right before combat in the prep screen, this will also allow you to change in and out partner heroes of your choosing, making strategy and integral part of this game, which is very interesting you don’t often see that on a Facebook game, but again, like I said, these creators really tried, and the product absolutely paid off. The villain cast in this game is quite impressive as well, I won’t got through all of them because that would take all since you see A LOT of villains in this game in the form of bosses and mini-bosses which can include anyone from: Magneto, Dr. Doom, and Green Goblin, to lesser known villains like Viper, The Hood, and Vulture. Every mission has at least one boss battle and one mini-boss, if you do not beat the mini-boss first, you will have to fight them alongside the main villain, but the mini-boss typically has his or her own henchmen if you fight them separately, so it’s interesting choice you have to make every mission.

      Well, I’ll stop rambling and say this: Marvel: Avengers Alliance is a great game, an addictive, and surprisingly enough, a SOLID game on its own. The creators are generous often giving out free Silver and Gold on the game’s Facebook page for loyal players and to make up for maintenance or problems and even to celebrate The Avengers movie doing so well. Unfortunately, like any Facebook game, if you wanna get anywhere fast, you need to spend money on Gold and Silver to level up your characters quickly and to buy new heroes often, is this necessary, unlike in many other Facebook games, no, you can play the game and get the resources you need that way, it’ll take longer, but it will probably help you enjoy the game better, too. I haven’t spent a single dime on the game so far and I’m doing fine with my character at level 37 and six partner heroes, four of them with Avengers costumes, making them invaluable. The point is, this game is fun, I promise, and you can walk away, there’s flight missions that allow this, you just stick your partner hero on a jet and they’re flown off to a different state or country and do a mission there, bringing you back Silver and getting experience themselves, these missions range anywhere from 3 minutes to 1 full day, depending on how long you want your hero to be out. It’s a flexible game, it wants you to have fun, and it accomplishes that, give it a try, price-wise, IT’S FREE, the best kind, and if you aren’t a spendthrift or a terribly impatient person you should be able to play your way through this game successfully without a problem, give it a try, you won’t regret it.

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