Ho ho ho. Green giant.
A few weeks ago, I posted some news about this game. At the time however, I didn’t actually know I which game I was talking about because all we had been given in the way of information was a picture of some guys in superhero costumes and a promise that Marvel were bringing something special to mobiles. I should’ve realised they were talking about The Avengers. Silly me.
In retrospect it was obvious. Four mean-looking blokes, one of which was green and muscular, it was either going to be that big dude who appears on tins of peas across the country, or The Hulk. And it’s our big green friend the game focuses on. That’s The Hulk, not The Jolly Green Giant. That would be a whole lot less interesting.
Avengers Initiative is the first instalment of a series of episodic adventures staring the Avenger crew. The story is as simple: an alien electrical current known as The Pulse has invaded earth and broken open The Vault – a high security prison housing all the nasty super-criminals and monsters captured by The Avengers. It’s up to The Hulk to round up as many horrible rotters as he can while the rest of The Avengers try and figure out what’s going on. This is what happens when someone on Mars leaves the iron plugged in.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Avengers Initiative is a straight up Infinity Blade clone, a fact which I have to admit disappointed me considering Gameloft had arguably raised the bar with recent Spiderman and Batman games that provided true open-world experiences. They weren’t perfect by any means (and as good as it is, I probably got a little too excited about The Dark Knight Rises), but they were pushing things forward. The Infinity Blade template is starting to get a little hackneyed, restrictive even. So I wasn’t all that pumped.
It’s by no means a bad game though. It takes a lot of what makes Infinity Blade great and experiments with it, proving that it doesn’t matter if a game completely rips another one off, as long as it’s good. HI EVERYONE, MY NAME IS DR. JIM GAMELOFT!
So I don’t need to tell you that it’s not free roaming, but you can pan the camera round to see what’s in front of you, picking up currency, medi-kits, and a few other items as you go. Or that you can choose between branching pathways at certain points, or even that you face huge boss enemies. I didn’t have to tell you, but that was just in case the three people who’ve never played Infinity Blade are reading.
Combat is similar, with swipes handling your attacks, and buttons for blocking and dodging. Hulk certainly packs a punch, as you would expect a 12ft giant to, and has Rage attacks in place of IB’s magic, but it often feels ever so slightly restrained. There’s a lot of standing around in between attacks waiting for your opponent to make a move which can render the action a little convoluted at times. The application of the Rage attacks isn’t as intuitive as Inifnity Blade’s magic which had you sketching shapes on the screen, but somehow really made you feel like you were casting a spell (not that I’ve cast many in my lifetime). Triggering Hulk’s moves means hitting a button in the top corner, watching the battle freeze with instructions to swipe down, then…swiping down. It all feels a little disjointed.
But the finishing moves have great impact, and there are a good selection of combos to use. It’s also obviously cool to control someone as iconic as The Hulk in combat. Certain battles also mix things up by throwing in challenges to keep things interesting such as win using a power, or winning without taking a hit.
Graphically it’s not quite as intricate the game that inspired it, but by no means ugly. The visuals aren’t as rich or nuanced, but characters fill the screen and any time you can pick out individual veins on your hero’s body, things can never be considered to be terrible. In fact, that’s what I’m going to look out for from now on. The Vein Effect. Some of the more well known enemies from the Marvel universe such as Wendigo and Abomination (names they were going to give two of the Tellytubbies before settling on the current choices FYI), are great to look at as you smash their nasty-looking faces in. There can be a few too many stock enemies – the Skrull Commandos – filling in the levels at times before you hit the bosses though.
You can also deck your Hulk out in a range of costumes from which you can mix and match to truly make him your own fashion slave. But some of the outfits seem a little forced. I’m not a massive Marvel fan, so I couldn’t tell you if these are entirely accurate. I always thought of The Hulk as a massive green guy with ripped shorts, so when I see the Ultimate Hulk costume which looks as though a three year old girl threw all of her mum’s jewellery on the poor guy, you begin to wonder. It’s a shame there’s no catwalk option.
The sound isn’t quite as bone-crunching as you’d want it to be, and the music tries it’s best to be memorable and signature, but doesn’t quite deliver. Still, the whole package is presented in a slick manner with sharply animated cutsecnes and pretty decent voice acting.
So hey, it’s not original, but it’s executed well enough to keep you bashing…if you know what I mean. Be on the lookout for Thor, Iron Man and Captain America flavours no doubt coming soon. See, I know exactly who they are now.
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Avengers Initiative is available now for £4.99. Get it now on the