Published on November 14th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth Review
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Platform: Xbox 360 Kinect
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.
Fighting games are often compared and contrasted among the ranks of others out there. At the least, Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat serve as default comparisons used to give them some sort of grounds for basis.
Now, throw a motion based Kinect fighter into the mix and you don’t have much to compare it to.
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth tells the story of the Secret Invasion. When a race known as the Skrull decides to invade the planet Earth, it is up to a large group of mutants and heroes to fend off the bombardment from the space ships. The ships aren’t the only things that pose a threat. The foreseen enemies have now started copying those heroes and using this copycat technique causing confusion. Many are left questioning themselves.
The events bring together a slew of Marvel characters who were involved in the conquest. The comic book series that covers the events is widely known for the crossover characters and mashup within its own label. From Spider-Man, to Dr. Doom, to Wolverine, all of the notable comic fiction can be found within. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Iron Man is also playable in this title.
The visuals of the game are fairly impressive. Character models are clean and colorful. I don’t think there was one thing I found displeasing about any design feature after looking closely at them during matches. Outside of the character designs, the CG videos showcased in the opening sequence are big movie quality. I wouldn’t even mind seeing a major animated movie if the same CG team was behind it. Even the Skrull version of Hulk has his own style and distinct visuals to differentiate these two different versions of him.
Over the course of the game you will meet the various characters inside the Marvel realm. The introductions of these are done through the events of each level in the game. There are five levels, each of which holding 10 episodes, or fights a piece. The five levels are: Manhattan, Savage Land, The Peak, Baxter Building and Shield Headquarters. Each of the fights is named much like the comic book series in which the game is based.
The game does offer an extensive fighting experience. With 10 matches for each of the five areas, there are plenty of challenges to be held within. The only problem with the 10 matches during each location is that the scenery doesn’t change one bit. For areas like the Savage Land, there is foliage and even a dinosaur roaming about. This is cool the first time seeing the animations, but once you been in the vicinity for match after match, it does get a bit repetitive. Different briefings come in over the walkie before going to an area but the same Manhattan sky-scape or jungle are never varies.
Something that doesn’t get old is the gameplay itself. The team at Ubisoft Quebec did nothing short of a fantastic job bringing a fighter to the Kinect.
Most people snubbed the title as soon as they heard it was a Kinect fighter. But just because a game doesn’t fit in your realm of normality doesn’t make it make it a bad game.
The motions in the game are simple and easy to use. After playing through the demo months back, there were a few hiccups, but it does seem like the responsiveness of the game has improved. There are even bonuses for doing the gesture quickly. Moves are done by performing the actions on screen. Super Moves are amongst the four a player has. These regenerate and can’t be spammed with the same one over and over. There are varying actions for most characters, and due to physical attributes, some simply resemble others.
Much like any other typical fighter, the game includes the use of Ultimate Moves. These are done by physically jumping, which start the action sequence. Breakers can stop enemy moves and are activated when prompted also by jumping. But, the use of the Breaker cannot stop Ultimate Moves. I found that this was both troubling, but useful when on your side.
Standard punches play two different roles in the game. What would a fighter be on Kinect without punching, right?
The game focuses on the use of combo’d Super Moves and leaves the ol’ one-two hits to be an afterthought during matchups. Their impact is mostly felt when enacting a Super Kick or Ultra Move. These both can launch an enemy up in the air allowing you to pursue additional hits by literally punching as fast as you can. The more punches can deliver in those seconds of uninterrupted combat, the better chance you have of finishing the fight right then and there.
The online mode of the game dips into the ranks and creates matches based on these. There are ranked and unranked matches which comes standard to most matchmaking processes. Participating in these will deliver more XP points, something which is also achieved when playing through the main campaign. These points are used to purchase collectable cards and the progress will build up your player rank.
Much like the different versions of each character, other characters and costumes can be unlocked. As the story progresses, new characters join the fight, with 20 characters overall. The game attempts to distract you from the repetitiveness by introducing new characters over time. This goal is actually achieved as you will find the new characters both fun and fulfilling. Matches like that of Venom versus Spider-Man were fun, and it was great to see the battle unfold in the game just like it did in the comic book series.
The only gripes about the game are the small bugs found within. Most of these bugs didn’t occur more than a few times, but were annoyances nonetheless.
Aside from the game mechanics themselves, I would have liked to also have seen more interaction between known nemesis characters. Much like that of Venom and Spider-Man, I would have liked have seen more dialogue or even nemesis battles. I did catch a few jests from Iron Man, which made me laugh out loud during the match.
When raising your arm to switch out characters it was great to actually have the characters call for help. For example, it was cool to hear Storm call “Bobby” and have Iceman come sliding in. The same can be said about playing as Iron Man and having him call to the Hulk. It gave it that overarching “Avenger” feel to the game.
As stated in my demo hands-on preview, I would have liked the side step to be continuous. It did work in the game and it would have allowed for a more fluid experience. This also led me to run into back sections of the fighting arenas and mysteriously reset our placement to the center of the level.
The game could have also benefitted from more various Ultra Moves. The ones included were great and the voice recognition through the Kinect was actually pleasing. I mean, who doesn’t want to play as Thor and yell “FOR ASGARD!”? This gave an immersive feel and was fun to do with each character. A bit awkward when playing online, though.
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth brings a great Kinect fighter to the Xbox 360. The responsiveness of the game, unlockable characters, and length of the game expand the use of the Kinect. It mildly requires use of your physique, but is totally doable in one sitting. Playing through the whole game leaves you around four hours of play, but is a bit different considering you’re using your whole body to play.
The story and graphics of the game are some of the best bar none. The lack of variation in level scenery and Ultra Move variety tug at the repetitiveness card, solely being that the first Ultra is gained most often before the match is even over. Also, a few hiccups did show through during gameplay, but didn’t much hinder the experience. They were more like annoyances.
If you were looking for a video game to wear down the kids, especially if they are Avenger fans, then it should be an easy choice. Gamers will find a pleasant experience becoming some of their favorite X-Men characters (Wolverine, Phoenix, Storm) but others throughout the Marvel universe.
+ Lengthy story
+ Paced difficulty
+ Online Co-Op
+/- Lack of moves
– Small Bugs