Alex Lynch Reviews: Ubisoft's AVENGERS: BATTLE FOR EARTH [Xbox 360]
Developed by Ubisoft Quebec for the Kinect and WiiU, Avengers: Battle For Earth is a motion-controlled fighting game featuring the Marvel Universe. Does the full experience surprise or did Ubisoft create a horrible flop? Find out my take after the jump...
Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, Marvel’s Avengers: Battle For Earth provides endless amounts of interactive entertainment for the family and has claimed itself as “the ultimate Super Hero brawler”, but does Ubisoft’s motion controlled super-charged battle game hold up, despite getting a fair amount of premature hate for simply being a motion-fighter? There are very few Kinect titles worth playing, so should Battle For Earth be one for your essential Kinect shelf or does it bring shame to the Marvel brand?
First of all, Battle For Earth relies completely on the motion controls and Kinect tracking for proper gameplay, however WiiU players will get the chance to use the gamepad. You’ll definitely need 5-8 ft of play space to fully enjoy its capabilities, and even at six feet, I still have issues with executing certain ‘super moves’, which have cost me a fair share of fights. This isn’t necessarily the game’s fault, but it’s just a fair warning for those eager to beat up Venom or Storm as Wolverine, who are only a select few characters that make up an enormous roster of Marvel heroes and villains. Not only are the most prominent Avengers featured throughout the game, but each of the ‘main six’ (including Loki) have costumes accurately inspired by their appearance from Joss Whedon’s feature film. In fact, the giant ensemble film has given tons of inspiration to this game, from Hulk’s ‘Ultra’ move of smashing his opponent in a similar style to which he did on Loki in the final act of the film, to Iron Man mentioning he craves Shawarma in numerous pre-battle sequences. The team of developers really studied these characters as their attacks feel right out of a comic book, while plenty of them feel unique in their own way. The game offers a wide array of attacks, and allows the player to weave incredible combos with a certain amount of skill. Upon executing ‘super-moves’ along with kicks and punches, a meter at the lower-left of the screen fills up, giving you advantages along the way. In the case that your opponent is about to unleash a devastating tag-team combo on your character, you can execute a ‘breaker’ when your meter is half-filled, causing your opponent’s combo to immediately end. However, when the meter is full you are given an ‘Ultra’ move, which is a quick cinematic combo similar to those in the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. It’s a little different in Battle For Earth, as the cinematic is reaching it’s end you can endlessly punch your opponent in-air for a set amount of time, offering an incredible amount of damage. If you love shouting commands such as ‘Hulk Smash’ or ‘Witch’s Hex Wave’, the game gives you an ‘Ultra Boost’ of damage on your attack.
Campaign mode’s story is derived straight from the Secret Invasion comic books using art panels and narration. The story of the Skrull attack in six key locations are told through 41 battles, most of which are unique and allow the player to unlock more characters as the story progresses. Campaign mode creates incredibly unique teams, often mixing and matching random super hero pairs instead of the cliché ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ or ‘X-Men vs Fantastic Four’ battles. Most battles start with a piece of dialogue from a hero via commlink asking you to take out the two Skrull imposters who are causing bad problems in the location, and it’s up to you to win and progress to the next fight. Although it’s really linear and leaves out an incredible amount of detail, the casual fans will able to see how the ‘Secret Invasion’ came to be, and how it ended. At the beginning, there is a change that you will feel utterly bored considering the battles are too easy, however as each chapter progresses, the difficulty is correctly raised against a smart AI, willing to give you a relentless beat down. For a Kinect fighter, Avengers: Battle For Earth’s campaign mode satisfies and surprisingly impresses with it’s intelligent AI and comic-like cut-scenes.
As with any fighting game, there shouldn’t have been any doubt that Battle For Earth included an ‘Arcade’ game mode, featuring plenty of randomized battles against characters from the fighter’s roster. Much like other classic fighters out there, the difficulty dial is turned up high, but very slowly throughout, almost as if the game is giving you a warm-up before you attempt to take down Queen Varanke and Super-Skrull, the final bosses. Make no mistake, these bosses are very skilled in combat and you’ll gain a sensation of accomplishment once you finally finish Arcade mode, and maybe you’ll lose a few dozen calories in the process. I feel that this mode is the game’s lifeline, offering the most unique and fun gameplay through different opponents, levels and teams. Arcade mode will help you try out and master several of the challenging characters, while helping you mix and match a devastating team you’d like to use against your friends locally or online. Unfortunately, I was unable to review the online multiplayer component of this game, due to it being basically dead. I checked a few times during every time I flicked on the game and I was sadly unable to find any open sessions.
Upon receiving the game, there is a huge amount of incentive to keep dueling it out with your favorite characters from the ‘Marvel Universe’, but after unlocking all of the characters and alternate costumes through hardcore battles, you almost don’t feel the need to play anymore. This game can very well be ‘beaten’, as the unlockables and replay factor only go so far. In all honesty, Avengers: Battle For Earth could very-well be improved by downloadable content with more of the famous Marvel roster (Deadpool, Cyclops, Ms Marvel, etc) and additional stages. The lack of content after all unlockables are achieved makes the game feel no more than a fun Kinect party game for your friends and family. Ubisoft did an amazing job on this piece of work and should be extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished. Despite having a large roster of games, there are only very few Kinect games that deserve to be on your shelf and this is definitely one of those, which hopefully becomes a franchise alongside the Just Dance video games.
Avengers: Battle For Earth is a worthy Kinect title with the great atmosphere of the Marvel Universe, however it slightly suffers from small replay value and eventually feels like no more than a great party game or quick exercise tool for the comic book fanboy.
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