Despite one's personal feelings on the Marvel universe (or comic books in general) you cannot deny the sheer rejuvenation in popularity for the series, culminating in the recently released Avengers film. Marvel (via Wideload Games) has decided to take advantage of this popularity with its release of Avengers Initiative [$1.99], a new title for iOS. While Initiative looks stunning and models its gameplay after the incredibly successful Infinity Blade series, a distinct lack of innovation coupled with a weary reliance on IAP make it fall disappointingly short.

Avengers Initiative puts you in the role of Bruce Banner's green alter-ego as he's sent on a mission by Nick Fury to bag and tag a variety of super-villains that have escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s high-tech prison. Initiative's story has some interesting facets due mostly to its Marvel underpinnings but for the most part the tale is fairly mundane with Hulk moving from location to location battling generic minions while looking for the next villain, with the occasional cutscene thrown in. Supplementals like dossiers that include additional info on the main players is a nice touch, but fan service only goes so far.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Avengers Initiative takes a large amount of inspiration from Infinity Blade. When battling an enemy, Hulk can attack and parry via swipes, while virtual buttons allow you to block and dodge. Take down a baddie and you earn experience and currency, while losing offers you the choice of restarting the battle (assuming you have a 'recharge pack' which allows you to replay a battle) or starting the game over with your upgrades, money and experience (think generations). You'll quickly learn that a large part of the gameplay revolves around restarting the game over and over in order to battle enemies and gain enough cash and experience to make a difference.

Some small additions to the formula include the addition of ranged attacks which are timed dodges that afford you the opportunity to counter-attack, and the occasional environment-based attack that can have Hulk heave his opponent through walls or over bridges. Other than these minor tweaks, you're left with a barebones battle system that most iOS gamers have already played with.

The fighting system isn't the only aspect Avengers takes from Infinity Blade. The leveling system, currency, augment (i.e. stat-enhancing gems) and upgrade system all borrow from the series. Unfortunately, while most would consider that a good thing, the features just feel off in Avengers. Experience is gained rather slowly and doesn't have any neat gimmicks like the weapon-based experience system of Infinity Blade. Meanwhile, the augment system is relatively barebones and doesn't offer much in terms of stat variety.

In addition, the currency doesn't accumulate fast enough for my taste, while the upgrade system, which lets you purchase powers and costumes (which offer different stat increases) doesn't feature nearly as many actual upgrades as it should. Even worse, what little you can purchase is way too expensive. It all leads to an experience that'll force you to replay the game repeatedly until you earn enough experience and currency to purchase the upgrades needed to advance past whatever boss is currently in your way. While there's nothing wrong with that, the inclusion of a ton of IAP, including the ability to purchase levels for actual cash makes the game feel more like a cash ploy than it really should be.

Other areas that are disappointing include unnecessarily long load times both when launching the game and while playing. As mentioned earlier, there are certain battles that feature environmental triggers that let you throw enemies out of buildings or off rails. Unfortunately, when you do activate these triggers, a loading screen will pop up for a few seconds before playing you back into the battle in the new environment. It's jarring and interrupts the experience. Even the game's 'Marvel XP' social platform seems plagued with load times, most likely due to its website-based system that's launched in-game.

Fortunately, not all is lost with Avengers Initiative as the game is one of the more graphically rich titles that I've played on iOS. Environments and character models are detailed and retina-enabled graphics for the latest devices make are extremely well-done. Even the battle animations are well-done for what are essentially scripted battle scenes repeated. I did encounter the occasional slow-down, but for the most part the Avengers ran smooth and looked great.

Alas, pretty graphics and rich fan service aren't enough to carry Avengers Initiative on its own. Granted, Initiative is a perfectly capable Infinity Blade clone for folks that are fans of the Marvel universe. However, for everyone else there's really nothing here from a gameplay perspective that hasn't been seen before or implemented better. It's unfortunately because I'm a big fan of Marvel and was looking forward to this title. Hopefully the subsequent games in the series make some improvements.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarNoneNone
  • onlineatron

    Found out this is made by Wideload Games (Stubbs the Zombie, Guilty Party) and, man, was I bummed! Such a unique output, now resigned to making cloned crap.

    • Tondog

      Stubbs is such an underappreciated gem.

  • Strange Brew

    Avengers: initiative junk pile. A $6.99 game with tons of IAP?! And a complete ripoff, what a disappointment. I don't mind others copying IB's style, but add your own twists to it. IE. Punch-Out to Infinity Blade.

  • chamuscao

    I bought this game due to 4 stars and a half in the AppStore, 4 points in SlideToPlay, etc. only to find that this is way worse than IB (IB or IB2), and that it's even more expensive. Long loading times, long battles not very well designed, lots, I mean, LOTS of IAP, and some hiccups (iPhone 4S iOS 5.1.1). The best thing I did was requesting a refund from Apple.

  • junkyardheart

    Yeah, I'll pass.

  • Lomyr

    How disappointing... Thanks for this review.

    Any closer to getting a review of wild blood up? I'm ashamed to admit I'm pretty much waiting for your word on that one...

    • Himmat Singh

       Go get it mate. Good varied gameplay imho. One big problem is the sluggish camera. A smaller issue is slightly unresponsive controls. Otherwise it's a bomb!

    • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

      pretty looking button masher with a really awkward camera and bad controls. oh it's "a bomb" alright.

  • http://twitter.com/Johnny_Stormy John Bagia

    Yeah yeah..Now read the review from slide to play or IGN. Dont stick only on a site..Be open minded and search a little

    • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

      be open minded and go trust ign? does not compute.

      • Superatomic

        What's wrong with IGN? It's my go to site for a whack of reviews.

      • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

        they're a little too biased and sensationalist for me. *shrug*

      • theundertow

        Same...I went to IGN for years (liked it better than 1UP) but they steadily went on the decline...so sick of that prompt to pay to remove Advertisements....really?

        I almost pulled the trigger on Hulk "just because" but going to wait it out...reskinning Infinity Blade with less content/options/customization makes me worried how little I'll play.

  • Gamer_Kev

    With it copying so much from Infinity Blade, I'm not surprised that it's somewhat dull. IMHO, Infinity Blade with it's on rails play and Groundhog Day like repetitiveness becomes rather dull once the novelty of the battle system wears off. Because it's so large, I finely decided to remove Infinity Blade 2 from my iPad to make room for newer games, though I'll probably put it back on when ever I get a newer iPad to see how it looks with higher res.

  • Deamon34

    I'll still leave it in my app shopper wish list so when it goes .99 or free for a weekend I'll pick it up.

  • Tuff Tiger

    NO ME GUSTA!

  • zebramatt

    From the moment I heard this game was going to be an Infinity Blade clone WITHOUT any real weapons or armour, I knew we were in for trouble! The only reason IB remains compelling is the sense of constant acquisition. Remove that and it's literally just the same thing over and over, and over and over and...

  • http://www.facebook.com/francis.fabie Francis Timbol Fabie

    Aww, I really wanted to get this because its, well, Marvel. Sad to know its really just a copy of IB and nothing more. :(

  • megz

    why is this not available in the phillippines????

Avengers Initiative Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 2.5