"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Earlier this year Playdom, a social gaming company that’s owned by Disney, launched Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook. The game casts you in the role of a SHIELD agent who can recruit various Marvel heroes to help fight bad guys in missions assigned to you by Nick Fury, Maria Hill and Tony Stark. It’s a fun game; probably the best review I can give it is that here we are six months after it launched, and I’m still not tired of it. It’s not something I can say about many of the Facebook games I’ve tried out (Walking Dead, I hardly knew ye).
In addition to the regular missions that pit you against Loki, the Wrecking Crew, the U-Foes and others, the game will sometimes throw “special operations” at you. So far there’s been three of them–they’re available for a limited time, require the use of a fifth in-game currency (“Unstable ISO-8′) and offer unique rewards and new heroes as you complete them. The first two introduced Mockingbird and Emma Frost to the game. This past Thursday, they launched a third one, and what makes this one a lot of fun is that it actually ties into a current comic book storyline–Avengers vs. X-Men.
The storyline is similar to the comic of the same name–the Phoenix force has attached itself to the X-Men, and the Avengers are worried. So it’s off to San Francisco for a fight:
There are three missions within the operation for you to complete, each raising the level of confrontation between the two teams. And when I say three, I actually mean six, as you’re required to choose your side at the beginning of each mission:
which in turn determines which heroes you can use and who you fight. For instance, if you choose the Avengers for mission two, you end up facing the Phoenix-ized versions of Colossus and Magik in the final boss battle:
And after you complete the mission for one side, you can go back and complete it for the other–each time fighting different bosses and getting different rewards. You’re also limited as to who you can bring into battle based on the side you chose: if you choose the Avengers, you can’t bring Cyclops, Storm, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Magik or Colossus. If you choose the X-Men, the “Movie Avengers” aren’t available–Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Iron Man. I wondered how they’d incorporate Phoenix into all of this, since she is a playable character in the game. They made her and Storm a part of Team X-Men, which evens out the sides. Namor, unfortunately, isn’t in the game, and it seems like this would have been a great time to introduce him.
The final reward, once you complete all 25 required tasks, is that you can add Magik to your roster of heroes:
And she seems to be quite the bad ass, too; in addition to her regular abilities, she can randomly unleash Limbo demons on you whenever she attacks or is attacked. I’m sure I’ll come to hate facing her in PvP like I have the Scarlet Witch.
The fun part of this spec op is the storyline, and like with the main game, Playdom and Marvel have done a great job with the story. It doesn’t follow the comics to the letter, but they do have a lot of fun with it. The X-Men are looking for the Phoenix to save the mutant race, with that “you don’t understand us, insignificant humans” tone in their voice:
While Cap and Tony try to talk them down, Thor isn’t so much the talker:
There’s even a little bit of in-game continuity, courtesy of Captain America:
And there’s a guest appearance by the Beast. He isn’t a playable character in the game–not yet, anyway–so it was cool to see him pop up:
All in all, they’ve done a nice job bringing AvX to the game. I’m only halfway through the list of assigned tasks, as I wait 48 hours for my Phoenix Pinion to upgrade … so I haven’t even seen what happens in mission three yet. But if they nail the landing, I’ll be pleased, and can start my campaign to bring other Marvel crossover series to the game. Who wants to sign my Secret Wars petition?