10 Thoughts On…Marvel: Avengers Alliance (Facebook/PC)

I’ve been playing Marvel: Avengers Alliance for about a week now and I’m really loving it. After the truly terrible Marvel Heroic Roleplay Basic Game I had to review, I was really looking for a good super hero game to turn things back around. Surprisingly, I found the best super hero RPG I’ve played since Marvel Ultimate Alliance…and it’s a Facebook game. Who would have thought? Anyway, this fun little turn based RPG is very reminiscent of a lot of JRPGs from the 16 and 32 bit era, coupled with the Marvel license. Here are my ten quick thoughts on the game and why you should be playing this, even if you’re normally not into browser based Facebook games.

1. Marvel: Avengers Alliance is divided into ten chapters. Each chapter has five sections with an optional sixth section that is unlocked based on whether or not you have “purchased” the appropriate character. Each mission contains several battles and culminates in a boss battle. Many battles are optional and some unlock completely new battles in the save level so if you choose to replay the same, you’ll be able to switch up with characters you used and even play many of the battles in a different order.

2. There are six different character classes, although each character within a class still plays dramatically different from each other. The classes are Blaster, Bruiser, Scrapper, Infiltrator, Technician and Generalist. The game has a Rock/Paper/Scissors thing going on where each class is strong against one other class, but also weak against one as well. The sole exception is the Generalist, who is equally strong and weak against the other classes. The key thing is to make sure you go in with a “Type Advantage” ala Pokemon to ensure the odds are in your favor. The better you do in a battle, the more points you get.

3. There are twenty-eight Marvel characters that are in the game. Everyone who joins gets Iron Man (Blaster), Hawkeye (Tactician) and Black Widow (Infiltrator). Soon afterwards you’ll get your fourth free final character and you choose between Cyclops (Tactician), Invisible Woman (Infiltrator), Iron Fist (Scrapper), Ms. Marvel (Blaster) and She-Hulk (Bruiser). I chose She-Hulk as I already had three of the other classes and she seemed a better overall choice than Iron Fist. Other characters available are:

Dr. Strange, Human Torch, Storm, Jean Grey – Blasters
Thor, Hulk, Thing, Colossus – Bruisers
Luke Cage, Sif, Daredevil, Wolverine, Spider-Woman – Scrappers
Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Black Cat, Spider-Man – Infiltrators
Captain America, Mr. Fantastic, War Machine – Tactician

Currently my team consists of Iron Man (Level 7), Hawkeye (Level 7), Black Widow (Level 6), Dr. Strange (Level 5), She-Hulk (Level 5), Luke Cage (Level 5), Kitty Pryde (Level 4), War Machine (Level 3). I’m saving up to “buy” The Thing and Daredevil and then I’ll have two of every type.

4. You’ll notice that refer to things like purchasing and buying with quotes around it. That’s because you don’t have to use real money in this game. You can if you really want to, but I’ve yet to spend a dime and I’m one of the highest ranking players in terms of Mission scores and in PvP. You purchase new characters with Command Points that you earn in battles, by completing levels or converting gold into points. Characters range from 15 to 130 command points and it’s pretty easy to obtain a few a day.

Gold is what you pay real money for, but even that can be earned without spending real money. You can do surveys and the like for free gold and then use that gold for special weapons, armor, S.H.I.E.L.D. Points (used for making new equipment and training characters when they have enough XP to level up) or Command Points (Purchasing new characters). I probably will put ten bucks into the thing for the amount of time I’ve spent with the game just to say thanks to the developers for making such a good game. I’ve done that for a few other Facebook games that I’ve enjoyed over the years like Dragon Age: Legends, Heroes of Neverwinter and Castle Age . Of course I’ve only played those for a month or two and then stopped because I’d done all there was to really do without monotony setting in. As Marvel: Avengers Alliance has a ton of content and a pretty big storyline going on, I just might play this for a lot longer.

5. Your character in Marvel Avengers Alliance is a generic S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that you can customize the appearance and gender of. The only catch is “Agent” appears before your character’s name…so I went with “Agent Dale Cooper” as my character. Please tell me you get the reference.

As your character levels up, you’ll have access to new gear that you can research and develop, along with unlockable items in the store that you can purchase. Find the items that work best for you and have at it!

6. As your Marvel characters level up, they’ll gain access to new powers and what the game calls “Iso-8” sockets. You can fill these sockets with various crystals that enhance your characters’ attributes. Some may only enhance one attribute while others might enhance multiples. A character can equip up to eight Iso-8 crystals based on their level, except for your main character who can equip between two and four based on his or her outfit. These crystals allow you to customize your characters and make them stand out from other players. You can balance out a character’s weak spot, make them extremely powerful in one attribute or raise several attributes a little bit to round them out. I tend to focus on a green crystals that gives me health, stamina and defense, and then a purple one that gives me health, attack and accuracy or another purple one that gives me health, stamina and attack. That gives me powerful characters that can take a lot of damage.

7. The game offers a shallow but interesting PvP mode where your agent and two of your characters take on a similar team made by a player of a comparable level. The CPU controls the opponent. Whoever you have chosen to be your default team will be who the computer chooses when someone selects you. You can pump your characters up by permanently sacrificing items to PVP mode. It’s a cute diversion, but you don’t get a lot of XP for it.

8. As this is a Facebook game, you can’t play for hours on end unless you really want to burn through some cash. Each battle costs 10 Energy and you have 60 when you are maxed out. That means six battles at a time are possible. You can get more energy by buying it, having it gifted to you by friends, or finding some when you visit each of your friends’ bases. This makes the game a cute little diversion to play for maybe an hour a day if you’re just casually into it. However, if you’re pretty intense about the game, you can send characters out on “Flight Deck Missions” and constantly check back in on those and your research to earn extra XP and items without actually even playing the game. It’s like Farmville crops basically except you’re leveling up superheroes instead of reaping kale.

9. The more friends that you have playing, the more freebies you can get. These range from grenades and first aid kits to extra S.H.I.E.L.D. Points and Iso-8 Crystals. I can’t underestimate how important it is to constantly gift with your friends, especially S.H.I.E.L.D. Points as you will burn through those amazingly fast with leveling your characters up and doing research.

10. All in all, Marvel: Avengers Alliance is a shockingly good turn based RPG and one that can compete with multi-million dollar JRPGs. Is it the best RPG ever? No. But for a FREE one, it surpassed pretty much any and all expectations that I had and it’s one of the best games I’ve played in 2012 so far. I love the sheer amount of customization in the game and it’s a lot of fun to have access to so many Marvel characters and form whatever teams I want. I love that I can get everything in the game for free if I just keep plugging away, which is a nice change from some Facebook games. If you’re an RPG or a Marvel fan at all, you’ll want to spend some time with Marvel: Avengers Alliance. It’s that fun.

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