Last month saw the release of the trailer and the first details regarding Marvel: Avengers Alliance, a free-to-play, turn-based combat game that will soon be available on Facebook from Disney Interactive Media Group's Playdom studios. This week, SuperHeroHype had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Rubinelli, the Vice President of Studio Operations for Playdom and Robert Reichner, Senior Producer at Playdom, to take a look at the social networking game and its unique take on the Marvel Universe.
In bringing Marvel to the masses, Playdom elected to make the look and feel of the feature films the basis for the game. That's readily apparent in the look of the "Ultimates" style Nick Fury, but subtlety extends to other characters as well, whether they've already appeared on the big screen or not. Reicher noted that Iron Man's dialogue is inspired by Robert Downey, Jr.'s take on the character, even though the visual for Tony Stark is not directly based on the actor.
GALLERY: View new screenshots and character shots from the game!
Every player can choose either a male or female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to represent themselves. The storyline in the game has that agent called into action following a mysterious event called "the Pulse" which bombards the Earth with an unknown energy and shards of a crystal known as "ISO-8." The shards have unique properties that provide and/or enhance super powers and well-known villains have come out of the woodwork to try and find them. Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. can make use of the crystals as well, meaning that players can level-up their agents as the game progresses, letting them fight alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk.
When the game launches, 28 playable heroes will be available and each is unlocked as game experience is gathered. Players can then send teams of three (their own agent and two heroes) on different story missions or to compete with their friends. The more experience each player gathers, the more weapons, devices and in-game currency they receive. During the turn-based combat, an ever-growing series of character combinations can be applied.
In one of the fights that Playdom demonstrated, a team of three went up against M.O.D.O.K. and made use of Hawkeye's pinpoint accuracy to exploit the villain's weaknesses. The same fight using the Hulk (who has tremendous strength but zero accuracy) would have been far less effective.
Beyond the combat segments, the game allows players to "train" their characters even when they're not playing. A user could log in and send Black Widow on a training exercise that takes an hour. While she's training, the character is no longer useable for that time period but, when she returns, she'll have enhanced skills. Impatient players can make use of a micropayment system to speed up the results. That is, the entire game is free to play but if you just can't wait to make Wolverine the best at what he does, you can immediately pay to upgrade the character.
Rubinelli and Reichner are both overwhelmingly happy with the results they've seen in the current beta testing and, while no specific date has been announced for the open version, it's planned for sometime within the next few months. After that, expansions are in the works to keep the Marvel Universe growing.
Though the game also features an additional 100 NPCs, the 28 attainable superhero characters have previously been revealed to include Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Thor and Wolverine. We can now confirm an additional ten: Human Torch, The Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Colossus, Cyclops, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Phoenix and Storm.
Click on the image below to check out the new character art and screenshots in our gallery and check back for more information on Marvel: Avengers Alliance as it becomes available.