We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
Despite what most people assume upon meeting me, I’m not a gamer. I was a Nintendo nerd growing up, but fell out of it somewhere along the line. I also steered clear of all those Facebook games for quite awhile before caving on Words With Friends. Then Marvel announced they were going to put out a FB game where you’d team up with a number of heroes to fight the good fight, and I decided to give it a shot. And now I’m totally hooked.
You start out a new agent of SHIELD, and quickly become embroiled in a new superheroic crisis. Something called “The Pulse” hits NYC, depositing rock fragments dubbed Isotope-8 all over, and a multitude of villains have emerged to try and harness their power. You quickly team up with Iron Man to combat threats and are soon after joined by the Black Widow. From there you go on missions and fight baddies to earn both Silver to buy items and Command Points to unlock more heroes. Gold buys you more bonuses and SHIELD Points pay for Research to unlock more items and leveling up your team. The gameplay is a turn-based system with a rock-paper-scissors like division of character classes; each class is strong against one specific class but weaker against one other. Probably the best thing about it is that it’s completely free to play. Sure, you can buy gold to get more points, but some hard work and more time will reap the same results. You can interact with friends by giving gifts and recruiting staff members, and the PVP allows you to fight against other players around your same experience level.
On a side note, it’s obvious this isn’t in the regular 616 Marvel Universe, but a hodgepodge of continuities. Nick Fury resembles his Ultimate and movie incarnations, while we’ve got the classic Fantastic Four battling Magneto leading a Brotherhood that includes Juggernaut, Mystique & Sabretooth. The Hood and the Green Goblin are working together, and one of Hulk’s alternate costumes is from Planet Hulk. Still, it’s cool to have the cannon fodder mooks be comprised of A.I.M., Hydra, the Maggia and the like.
As great as it is, the game does have some flaws. The biggest one is an occasional loading issue. Sometimes you’ll get a full-screen “The game has been updated; please refresh your browser to continue” message that forces you to do what it says, and in the process lose some of the items or experience points you just won and Energy you just used. Some things are quite frustrating, especially at first, but the more you play the more you get used to it’s rules and adjust accordingly. Even with faults like these, the good far outweighs the bad, and I highly recommend you take the time to give it a shot. Marvel: Avengers Alliance earns 4.25 out of 5 critical hits.