Avengers Initiative by Marvel Entertainment icon

Avengers Initiative ($6.99) by Marvel Entertainment is the much-hyped official Avengers game for iOS.

The game starts out with a transmission from none other than Nick Fury himself. He will brief you about The Pulse, which has busted open the top secret Vault of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility located in the Rocky Mountains. This means that a bunch of imprisoned super-criminals have escaped, and the Avengers need to be assembled to figure out who broke open the Vault. Meanwhile, Fury orders the Hulk to go on ground to round up all of the baddies that have escaped.

When it comes to graphics, I am incredibly impressed by Avengers Initiative. It’s definitely some of the most detailed that I’ve seen in an iOS game, and at times, it’s hard to believe that it’s all on my phone. However, even these stunning visuals aren’t enough to redeem the game.

Avengers Initiative by Marvel Entertainment screenshot

Gameplay is the most disappointing part. I was expecting something great from all of the hype, maybe an open-ended world to explore, kind of like what you get in The Dark Knight Rises. However, I’m met with the tired gameplay mechanics of Infinity Blade, except this time you’re just punching things as the Hulk. Swipe your fingers across the screen to attack and deflect hits, press the buttons to sidestep and dodge, and tap the center button to block. At least there are some interesting new additions, like the use of special powers through the “Rage” mechanic, and the timed trigger events that allow you to throw enemies out of buildings and the like.

Winning battles will net you experience points and money. If you lose, however, you will have an option to restart the battle as long as you have a “recharge pack,” otherwise you will have to start the game over with whatever upgrades, money, and experience points you had. A big part of the game involves starting over frequently to get enough cash to become stronger.

The environments in Avengers Initiative look beautiful, but it’s a shame that the game is on-rails. You can only look around the Hulk by swiping on the screen to move the camera. Pick up any ISO crystals that you come across, and make sure you do the crystal smashing mini-game for even more crystals. These can be used in the shop to purchase stat boosting costumes and augment equips.

The combat mechanic is extremely repetitive at this point, and a lot of the upgrades that you will want just seem too expensive. Marvel decided to throw in a ton of in-app purchases as well, in case you don’t have the patience to grind for hours to get cash. This may have been okay if the game was cheaper (or free), but remember, this is a $6.99 title we’re talking about.

Avengers Initiative by Marvel Entertainment screenshot

I found the longer “boss” battles to be boring and just not done very well. The game also has long loading times when starting up the game and during actual play, which makes it even more painful. It’s definitely not fluid and interrupts the overall flow of the game. They also decided to go with their own network, Marvel XP, where you can track your progress and get achievements, rather than using Game Center. My question is why? Integrating GC for achievements would have been simpler for players, rather than having to deal with another service.

I’m a big Marvel fan, but I am really disappointed with Avengers Initiative. Marvel had a great opportunity here, but really screwed it up. However, they are promising content updates in the future (with more members of the Avengers, I’d imagine), so maybe they can do better.

If you really want Infinity Style gameplay, just get Infinity Blade or Infinity Blade II. At least these are done well. Avengers Initiative is not worth the $6.99 price tag in the current state, but if you absolutely insist on going “HULK SMASH” on baddies, then at least wait for a sale.