The next fighting game arrives and it’s all Marvel based, which is probably my favorite compared to DC. Anyhow, if you haven’t heard anything about it, here you go:

Who’s the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe? Take control of your favorite Superhero and find out in this epic brawler that lets Earth’s Mightiest Heroes battle it out and settle the argument once and for all! Feel what it’s like to have superpowers as you use Kinect motion control to command your favorite characters in explosive, action-packed brawls. Choose from 20 Marvel heroes and villains, including Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. Use their incredible powers to clobber your opponents with high-impact strikes and special attacks. Pick from a variety of battle types in single-player, or choose a co-op sidekick and take on opponents as a team.

Overview

This one follows closely from Power-Up Heroes but it’s kind of different, but a good different in my opinion. It still lacks some things that we long for, but it’s definitely a push in the right direction.

The Menu

The menu uses the normal swipe method that we’re all familiar with. It works most of the time, although when choosing some of the very bottom options, it does hesitate once in a while. Overall, it works. There’s also voice commands however you have to enable them first by saying “Assemble”. I’m not sure why this isn’t on by default, but voice works well also. Anyhow, your main menu consists of the following categories: Campaign, Fight Modes, Online Battle, Headquarters and Uplay.

Campaign

This is one of the modes of the game that actually follows a comic from 2008 called Secret Invasion. It’s based about the Skrulls (shapeshifters) invading earth. The game follows the story pretty close, but also loosely as you fight a lot of same characters over and over, and certain characters are not matched up like they are in the comic. Overall though, it’s a decent story and has the comic feel to it. These are the real Marvel characters by the way, not the Hollywood ones although some of their Hollywood outfits are available to wear.

The way the campaign is set up is that there are 5 stages. Each stage consists of 8 missions. However, to keep you from getting bored, you are only allowed to play the first 4 missions of each stage. After completing all 4 missions in each stage, this enters Part 2 of the campaign and you can then go back and choose to play the last 4 missions of each stage. It’s not too shabby for a fighting game campaign, 40 levels just in the campaign mode. There is a lot of repetition but it is a fighting game, I don’t recall many fighting games that have other things to do besides fighting. Anyhow, the 5 stages are S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Baxter Building, Manhattan, Savage Land and The Peak.

The one thing I noticed, Part 1 of the campaign is quite simple. I didn’t lose any battles, on Part 2 it’s a different story. The first 2 missions of each stage are still kind of easy, but mission 3 steps it up a little bit (where I started to lose a round here and there) and mission 4 I ended up losing the battles a couple of times. I’m quite confused as to why there wasn’t a difficulty option put in the game. Also, when starting, you do have the option to play solo or co-op where you actually take turns fighting when you switch it up. I thought this was neat as if you get tired, just have your partner take over in real life while you rest up.

The way the battle is set up is you have 2 characters, just as Power-Up Heroes as well as many current fighting games. If one character gets low on health, you can swap them out so the damaged character can recover health. It’s a normal fight system that works pretty good. They also added tag combos so you can tag team combos so to speak between both characters. The thing is, this is the first real Kinect fighting game I’ve played that you have to be fast at. If you don’t learn the gestures, you will struggle on the harder levels and it’s actually hard to remember all 20 characters gestures flawlessly.

Anyhow, each battle consists of the best of 3 rounds. If you win 2, you move on. Characters have 3 super power attacks, and then a kick and punch option. To initiate a super power, you just have to do the 2-part gesture, such as raising your right arm up and then pointing it at the enemy. The super power on the left is your initial combo attack so you can start doing a combo. Once you do the left one, if you do the middle and right gesture fast enough, you can land a 3-hit combo. If you have a character that has an initial combo super power where it holds the enemy for a few seconds, you can then tag team with your partner. The max amount of a combo you can land is 6, although I still haven’t quite figured it out unless I’m not fast enough as I’ve landed 4, but the enemy typically recovers after that.

With the “close combat” moves of punching and kicking, if you raise your right knee, you will just move in for a second and try to knee your opponent. Punching shoots a projectile whether from the ground or from your hands if your Iron Man for example, hence why I quoted close combat. I was hoping there would be a combat system like Power-Up Heroes in it where it was a little better than this, but it’s not. If you let your kick meter build up, you can attempt to land a Super Kick. This kicks the enemy high into the air, Dragon Ball Z style and you follow them down, on top of them, wailing away. In this mode, it doesn’t really matter your speed as you can only punch so fast in the game and the most you will land are 16 hits.

As you battle it out, there’s also a Special meter at the bottom. The first halfway point is called a Breaker. What this does, is if you jump up, it will counter and knock the enemy down, no matter what they are doing. If you let it build up all of the way, you can then go into Ultra Mode, by jumping as well. This is your super special move, if you yell out whatever it wants you to say, such as Thor’s “For Asgard!”, you get a damage bonus. It then turns into the super kick mode, except you really get to wail on them. This time speed does matter, the fastest I was able to do was around 35 hits, slowest was around 25, so it does vary a lot based on your speed. I was actually surprised Kinect could keep up.

There are similar and different super powers for the characters which makes it more difficult. A few of them have a shield super power but it’s hard to remember who, all I can think of is Thor and Hulk at the moment. But even though they have a shield move, it doesn’t always protect you, so thankfully you can dodge attacks by leaning left or right, although you really have to time it. The same goes for those that can fly/hover in the air. Every character can counter every type of move, the key is remembering all of their powers and moves. It makes it for a challenging game to be honest.

After the battle is done and you win, you gain experience points. Your experience points (which I call literal experience points as you are learning throughout the game) help you build up your rank. I’m not sure what the ranking system is for, unless at the very end you unlock something special as I’m only about halfway, but it’s there as something to do I suppose. You are also rated on how well you did. You get either a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Adamantium rating. Points are awarded based on 3 categories, Basic Attacks, Super Attacks and Defense.

I did create a video of a battle, although this was in arcade mode and one of the earlier battles so I know it looks like it’s really boring as I was barely getting attacked and what not, but I wanted to show all of the different moves in the game, check it out below:

Fight Modes

Fight modes give you some other ways to play besides the campaign which is normal in fighting games, but much welcomed to a Kinect fighting game. The modes are Arcade, Versus, Tutorial, Challenges and Tournament. Arcade is your normal arcade mode where basically you will want to beat the game over and over with each character. There are 10 levels in here, so it takes a little bit but it’s still cool. Beating Arcade mode over and over will eventually unlock all of the extra costumes for all of the characters.

Versus mode is your 2 player option. I didn’t get a chance to test this mode out, although I’m pretty certain it’s simultaneous. I’m sure someone will confirm. Tutorial is actually kind of a joke. It’s a very basic battle and it first starts you off by punching and kicking, then using your first super power, the second and the third, but its like a normal battle so by the time you go through everything, the opponents are already done and you don’t really get a sense of what you are supposed to be doing.

Challenges I found more helpful. It’s broken up into 3 categories; Training, Characters and Trials. Training should have been the tutorial. It’s broken into 5 sections, each section goes into a crazy amount of detail about the game itself and how you play and everything you really need to know. I would recommend doing this section before actually playing the game as it really helps, although I didn’t find it until I was done with the campaign. The characters area allows you completely learn all of the characters combat skills. Again, this is so helpful as you keep repeating things to do it really helps you remember. There are 20 sections, one for each playable character.

Trials are your really difficult challenges. These are the real challenges of the game. Initially, you have 12 that are unlocked that you can play. The other 8 are unlocked through Uplay. The first one I did was kind of difficult, you have no super powers and all you can do is punch and kick, yet they have everything available to them and you have to beat them in 1 round. It’s all in good fun though, again, the more variety of fighting we have, the better.

Tournament mode actually lets you battle it out with up to 4 local players. I am assuming each “team” is one player, although I wasn’t able to confirm.

Online Battle

There is online battles with this game as well which is always welcomed. The problem is there are only 21 people as of this writing that played online, so I had no luck finding anyone to play against to test it out with. There are more categories in here, which include Ranked Match, Quick Match, Private Match (which you can invite your friends to), Locate Session (which searches your online friend list and shows you what they are playing) and the Leaderboard. The Leaderboard holds the top ranks and your rank.

Headquarters

This area is more for information than anything. It consists of Progression, Characters, Collector Cards, Xbox Live Marketplace and Extras. Progression just keeps track of your game progression (you can complete 100%) and your score, which is more like your win/loss ratio. Characters shows the fighting stats of each character and you can change their default costumes when you start unlocking them. Some characters have more outfits than others. There are only 20 playable characters in the game. There are other characters during the story, but they are just in the story. Fantastic 4 is mentioned, but only Human Torch is playable. I was hoping for a Thing vs. The Hulk battle. The list of characters are:

  • Black Widow
  • Captain America
  • Doctor Doom
  • Dr. Strange
  • Hawkeye
  • Human Torch
  • Iceman
  • Iron Man
  • Loki
  • Magneto
  • Phoenix
  • Queen Veranke
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Spider-Man
  • Storm
  • Super Skrull
  • The Hulk
  • Thor
  • Venom
  • Wolverine

Collector Cards aren’t really anything special, you unlock them during the challenge mode of the game. Basically, it’s just a badge that is displayed when you fight online with a little slogan. It really reminded me of the badges from Call of Duty. Xbox Live Marketplace has DLC that is available, except it didn’t work for me. I had to use the dashboard link to connect to see what was available. There are costumes available as of right now, I have no idea if they are planning on introducing more characters, which would be nice since the Marvel universe is so large.

Extras consists of your credits, options which only allows you to change the speech recognition nationality, load your game and change storage device and the on-disc game manual. I was expecting a few more option in here to be honest, such as changing the difficulty and selecting how many rounds you want to battle for. Typically on arcade mode, since it takes forever at the default best out of 3, I usually change it to 1 round so I can get through the arcade mode quicker, but that’s just me.

Uplay

Lastly, it does have some Uplay goodies. I broke it up into 2 sections, the actions and the awards so here you go:

Actions
10U – Here I Am (Win your first battle in Campaign)
20U – King of the Hill (Win the Arcade mode once)
30U – Earth United (Finish the first part of the Campaign)
40U – Closure (Finish the Campaign completely)

Rewards
10U – Exclusive Collector Card (Unlock “I Mean Business”)
20U – Experience Points Boost (Receive 5000XP to boost your rank)
30U – Venom Alternate 2 (Unlock a new appearance for Venom)
40U – Trials Pack (Unlock 8 new trials)

Graphics, Sound and Controls

Just a quick note about the graphics and controls, the graphics are pretty comic looking using a mixture of regular graphics and cel-shading so it does look really authentic. The sounds/voices used are all of their cartoon voices, and they talk to each other like normal, it really is an authentic Marvel experience which is always good.

The controls happen to work really well also so I’m eager for some more fighting games now unless we have wait for the next-gen Kinect to handle close combat. For as fast as this game is, I was surprised the controls worked as well as they do. You can also queue up moves that’s how fast it responds.

Conclusion

I did enjoy this game, but just like Power-Up Heroes, there wasn’t enough. 20 characters is better than the 12 outfits from before, but seriously, we need more! Marvel is a huge universe, and there are so many more fan favorites that are missing. More moves would be great as well, I’m just not sure if Kinect can handle more than 3. This game was a great idea, it just needs to be expanded. I think one of the biggest things when comparing this to other fighting games is there really isn’t a close combat fight system. Sure you can punch projectiles and come in for a quick knee, but I want a more evolved system. I just don’t know if its possible yet, also blocking would be great because as of right now, you can only block with the characters that have shields, but it doesn’t always work. Other than that, those were the only gripes I found with it. It’s a decent game, so if you are huge Marvel fan and want to play a Marvel fighting game from a different aspect, this one is a cool choice.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth
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