Back in 2006, comic book fans were given the supposedly ultimate superhero experience in a game called Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Though it was not perfect, the game gave us a good taste of what a superhero crossover could be. Even still, it lacked certain Marvel characters that would be fun to play as. Since playing this game, I have always hoped to finally play the truly ultimate Marvel experience. I am here to tell you now that Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle for Earth is unfortunately not that experience.
Released for Wii U and Xbox 360, Battle for Earth is a game that attempts to bring the biggest Marvel superheroes together in a fighting game. Though this is a good concept, the game has very little depth and is little more than an expensive iPad game.
The game has a story mode, but it is so uninteresting that it might as well have been left out. It is pretty much the story of how the Skrull try to take over the earth by disguising themselves as certain superheroes. The story is told through pictures that look like they came straight out of the comics. Though the story is probably interesting in the actual comics, the way it is carried out in the game is very uninteresting. It eventually got the point where I just skipped the cinematics due to its dullness.
The gameplay is very basic. On the Wii U, it is played entirely with touch screen controls. You are given icons on the screen that activate certain attacks. Some of these attacks require you to match certain movements with the stylus. You can also slide the stylus across the screen to avoid attacks from your opponent.
…That’s pretty much it.
As stated earlier, the gameplay feels very much like an iPad game, except you have to pay $40 for it. There are different modes, such as story mode or tournament mode, but even these do not stray too far from each other. It really stinks too, considering that a fighting game with Marvel characters sounds like a really cool idea.
You can unlock characters in the game. The game features about 20 different characters to play as. One would think that considering how simple the gameplay is, it would be easy to add as many different characters as possible. Sadly, the character roster does not expand far beyond the Avengers, Spider-Man, and some X-Men. Not only is this unfortunate, but some of the characters they chose seem inappropriate for a basic roster. Why would they have an obscure character like Spider-Woman when they could have had a more popular character like Mr. Fantastic or Deadpool*? Or villains like Venom who aren’t even related to the Avengers?
I understand that Spider-Man and some of the X-men become Avengers in the comics eventually, but it still seems off that they stop there, especially since many more Marvel characters become Avengers, too. If they are going to limit their character roster, it might as well feature the most popular superheroes. Not characters that require more advanced comic book knowledge to know.
There are some pluses to the game, particularly the fact that you can unlock costumes for certain characters. The Avengers movie costumes are a really nice touch to the game and almost make the rest of the mediocrity worth it. It is a shame, however, that some of these costumes have to be purchased instead of unlocked.
The graphics are okay, although they are not exactly impressive. They feature a cel-shaded look to them which makes them look very much like a comic book. For some reason, however, they do not look nearly as interesting as other cel-shaded games like Sly Cooper or The Wind Waker. The cel-shaded look when mixed with more realistic-looking characters just does not seem that appealing.
The sound really is not much better. In fact, it is worse. The voice acting in and of itself is not bad. However, when you hear the same lines a hundred times after a few fights, you start to really hate the acting. Seriously, if I hear the background voice say “Launcher!” one more time, I think I am going to explode.
In terms of morality, Battle for Earth is very similar to what you see in most superhero media. There is non-graphic violence and the female characters dress inappropriately. This game seems to over-sexualize female superheroes even more so then usual. Also, Dr. Strange, who is known for practicing magic, is in this game. I would be cautious of allowing kids to play this game.
In the end, Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle for Earth is a half-baked game with little going on that is actually interesting. If this game was a $5-10 eShop (or Xbox Live) game, I might have actually recommended it. The gameplay, though very shallow, might actually entertain you for a few hours, and the character costumes are pretty neat extras. But as a $40 retail game, it is just not worth it. If you are looking for more games for your Wii U library, I could recommend several others that would be better for you. And for those who are looking for the true Marvel experience… go play Lego Marvel Superheroes.
…No, seriously. Go play Lego Marvel. Now.
*Disclaimer: I do not endorse the immorality and inappropriate behavior of Deadpool. Rather I am making a point that more popular characters should have appeared instead of these less recognizable ones.