|System: Wii U|
|Pub: Ubisoft Quebec|
|Release: December 4, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Sean Engemann
Ubisoft seems to have made quite a good decision in adding Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth to the Wii U’s launch window lineup. When compared to the only other fighter currently released on the system, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition, Avengers: Battle for Earth presents a clear alternative in both presentation and gameplay. The controls are simple, the move list rudimentary, and the visuals stylized with comic book flair. It isn't a taxing experience, which may be the deciding factor on who will likely purchase the game, but it's fun nonetheless, especially when played with a few friends.
There’s a smattering of references and extra content pulled from this past May's blockbuster Avengers film, but Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth is by no means a movie tie-in. In fact, if you stuck around for the movie's post credits teaser, you could make a plausible assumption that the game is actually a prelude to the next Avengers movie. Super-Skrull has dispatched his shape-shifting minions to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and other organizations by taking the form of the Avengers and other Marvel superheroes.
All the Avengers are present, as well as a few popular X-Men like Wolverine and Storm, and other Marvel stars like Spider-Man and Doctor Doom. There are twenty characters in total, which is a fair number, but you can easily memorize and master all of their move lists in one sitting.
This is due to the game's unconventional controls. Originally designed for the Kinect, Ubisoft has found a sweeter spot on the Wii U with the fusion of traditional, motion, and touchscreen inputs. With limited moves, you can easily pick up and play no matter what sort of controller you're holding. There are two basic attacks (one ranged and one kick) and three super attacks (a direct attack, a jump move, and a vertical launcher). On the GamePad, you simply tap the icon to execute the attack, with super moves requiring you to trace a pattern on the screen for full damage (Tip: Use the stylus, not your finger). With the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, except for punching the air for the basic ranged attack, the moves are all triggered with a button press. However, super attacks require a specific motion after being triggered, with the power of your motion determining the strength of the attack.
With sidesteps being the only manual movements, your level of success is based almost completely on timing attacks offensively or using the proper attack as a counter move.
There are five difficulty levels for the A.I. The lowest challenge requires nothing more than spamming attacks until the enemy is KOed. The highest level, on the other hand, requires a sharp eye to see what attack the enemy is preparing in order to counter and string together combos. Overall though, you should have no problem clearing the solo modes on your first attempt.
The Campaign Mode strings together a brief story told via comic book-style scenes, where you partake in a battle and then repeat. There are five arenas, each with eight matches split between two chapters. Though brief, the cutscene artwork will make any comic book fan salivate. The script is nothing spectacular, but it’s executed with solid voice acting, and the game includes some epic orchestrations on par with anything you've heard from Marvel's big-screen hits.
Arcade is the other solo standard, taking you through a simple ladder match until every opponent is knocked out. For multiplayer, the Versus Mode is your basic quick match, whereas the three and four player only Tournament Mode takes you and your friends through elimination playoffs. Sadly, there is no online feature save for Ubisoft's "Uplay" network, so all matches are local.
Tutorial gives you a stress free practice match, but I suggest skipping it and diving straight into the Challenges Mode for learning the ropes and perfecting your skill. There are three different categories within the Challenge Mode. Training is the real tutorial, taking you through a series of exercises to familiarize you with basic attacks, counters, combos, and more. The Characters option focuses on a superhero (or supervillain) of your choice, with over a dozen drills to quickly ingrain that character’s skills set into your head. Finally, the Trials category adds different variables and handicaps, such as only being able to use basic attacks.