After the success of Marvel's new approach to films, namely retaining creative control to ensure the final products' quality, the next sector of improvement the company has set its sights on is their gaming catalogue.
As with the films, Marvel plans to ensure that the games reflect their dedication to quality as well as reflecting the larger Marvel universe. While a larger console Marvel game is rumoured to be on the cards, currently the company has set its on conquering the mobile gaming universe.
When I got some hands-on time with the game the Marvel representatives described their game design philosophy with three main tenets. Engaging gameplay, they said, trumps everything else along with compelling story-lines and a true to character experience. This is easy to claim theoretically but the main way to gauge how successful they've been is by seeing how the fans react.
Marvel's Avengers Initiative represents this new foray into mobile gaming but the game actually continues the story from the Marvel: Avengers Alliance Facebook game. It follows the aftermath of “the Pulse”, a gigantic EMP explosion that allowed all the super-powered villains previously caught in maximum security prisons to escape and wreak havoc once again.
In the first episode you play as the Hulk, the first responder to the crisis who runs into Super Skrulls and the Wendigo, amongst others, on his way to “The Vault” (a super villain prison). While we didn't see many other villains, the developers intend to delve deep into their character archives to keep things interesting.
Existing users of Avengers Alliance will also be able to link their experience and level up between the two titles, giving fans of the popular social media game a reason to investigate Initiative.
As the game will be released on iOS devices (such as the iPad and iPhone) and select Android devices the gameplay reflects the limitations of the genre. Using swipes and taps to control the Hulk , in the first episode anyway, you will battle your way through a good variety of more obscure Marvel villains throughout the episodes. The combat is the focus here and there's a system of blocks, dodges and attacks that you have at your disposal feel uniquely Hulk-like, showing Marvel's intention to create a true to character experience.
Marvel at least seems dedicated to supporting their fans and continuing to deliver support for the game. After the initial price of $7.49 for the first episode, the subsequent episodes (which haven't been shown but will surely feature the other more famous Avengers like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor) in the first season will all be free.
In our video call, Marvel referred to the upcoming episodes as “the first season” which isn't so much a confirmation but an opportunity to extend the story into the larger Marvel universe if the current series is a success. The roster of Avengers in their comic book universe is so vast that the series has plenty of room to surprise fans in the future.
It will be interesting to see how fans of Marvel's universe and their Facebook game take to Avengers Initiative but if the company is as dedicated as they claim to crafting the breadth of stories and showcasing the multitude of hero and villain characters available, it makes for an exciting prospect for the future of their mobile presence.
Avengers Initiative was released on IOS and Android devices on September 6.