There are a handful of superhero games on Facebook already, but none like Marvel: Avengers Alliance, which gives players the opportunity to fight alongside their favorite Marvel superheroes in RPG-style combat against a series of iconic villains.
Marvel: Avengers Alliance is currently undergoing private beta testing with a final release to the public coming “very soon” according to developer Playdom. The game will be launching with a substantial amount of content, including a total of 28 recruitable Marvel heroes for players to add to their team and fight alongside, as well as a wide range of missions pitting the player’s team against well-known Marvel villains such as Dr. Doom, Loki and Green Goblin.
Players start the game by designing their own avatar, which does not have to share the name and gender of their Facebook profile. This character, known as “The Agent” throughout the course of the game, becomes a member of the Marvel “S.H.I.E.L.D” espionage and peace-keeping organization despite having no discernible superpowers at the outset of their career. Despite this, The Agent is the most customizable of the characters the player will take control of throughout the course of the game, with a wide variety of weapons, armor, special equipment and skills available, allowing players to take full ownership over their character’s development.
By following a series of story-based missions, players will recruit their first Marvel heroes into their team, including Iron Man, Hawkeye and Black Widow. The game’s basic concepts are gradually introduced, starting with the turn-based RPG-style combat which makes up the bulk of the game. The Agent and up to two additional heroes are sent into battle against various opponents in an attempt to work their way across various maps, culminating in a boss fight against a Marvel villain. Combat strategy is based on a system of character classes, where certain types of character are particularly strong and weak against others, meaning as the player’s team expands, heroes must be selected with greater care. Performance in battle is scored according to how quickly the conflict was resolved and how well the player’s team survived, with higher scores contributing to higher “mission mastery” ratings. Higher masteries lead to bigger rewards, which can then be spent on new equipment, training and consumable items.
The game involves little in the way of direct social interaction until after the first few missions, at which point a player-vs-player facility becomes unlocked, allowing players to pit their teams of heroes against one another. Alongside this, players are also able to visit their friends’ cities to “help” with missions by clicking on locations to recover money and items. Players are also able to recover “call for backup” items from friends, too, which can subsequently be used in difficult battles to even the odds somewhat.
Progression in the game will require players to either spend money or recruit friends due to the necessity of acquiring “S.H.I.E.L.D” points for training and researching new equipment. These can be procured either by requesting from friends or by purchasing with the game’s hard currency. Without them, players may still continue through the story, but will be unable to level up Marvel heroes or unlock new equipment for purchase in the in-game store.
There are a lot of things to like about Marvel: Avengers Alliance. The art style evokes the atmosphere of its source material well; the story is simple comic-book fun with some entertaining dialog; and the gameplay itself is straightforward to understand while offering enough depth and challenge to attract more hardcore players. There are a few niggling little flaws which detract slightly from the experience, however — for example, some game terminology is used inconsistently, with “Stamina” and “AP” being used interchangeably in a number of situations, leading to confusion. Likewise, comic book fans will be sure to pick up on the illogical fact that it’s possible to call Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) for backup during combat even when Iron Man is already in the active battle party. The fact the game switches out of full-screen mode when sharing an achievement with friends — even when the post is created frictionlessly — is also a little frustrating, particularly at times when it’s impossible to immediately switch back to full-screen mode, such as during tutorial messages.
These flaws aside, Marvel: Avengers Alliance will likely attract a broad audience thanks to its deep gameplay and cast of recognizable characters. It also looks as if the game is set to be just the first step in a range of interconnected Marvel games known as “Marvel XP.” Details on this are slim at the time of writing, but the game will offer the facility to sign up for the service via a player’s Facebook account, with progression in Avengers Alliance potentially affecting progress in subsequent games.
Marvel: Avengers Alliance is set to launch on Facebook “very soon,” according to the developer. You’ll be able to follow its progress using AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.
The official Marvel license will help this well-produced game find a large audience among comic book fans on Facebook.