Facebookers Assemble!

With only a month to go until Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men we’re readying our battle cries. Mine mostly consists of singing the 90s X-Men theme song at the top of my lungs. I’m fairly confident it will put fear right into the hearts of those Avengers supporting ne’r do wells. If not, then you can find me cowering in the corner in my Wolverine themed jammies (I wish!). Ahem…anyhow, in wake of the calm before the storm Marvel has released Avengers Alliance, a free-to-play turn-based role-playing-game…on Facebook.

I’m hooked. I even managed to snag our own Marc Hamel into the game (success!). All other Facebook games have failed to grab my attention, but this…I don’t know if it’s the inclusion of so many Marvel characters that causes my nerd brain to go into overload, or that it’s actually a solid 3-on-3 turn-based RPG. I suppose it could also be the fact that it lets you make a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in your image, with whatever name you choose. When Agent Banks and his Avengers are out on the town, Marvel baddies beware.

A mysterious type of rock has landed on Earth, Iso-8, and everyone on the planet is battling for them. These rocks each have different attributes to enhance your characters, so obviously the villains are out to get them as well. It’s not the most entertaining story, but it serves it purpose to move you along as you giggle and drool at the latest Marvel hero to fight by your side.

Each hero comes from one of 5 different class types (Blaster, Bruiser, Scrapper, Infiltrator, Tactician) with the advantages/disadvantages against another determined by a simple rock-paper-scissors mechanic between all of them. While your hero starts out as having no class, various suits that you purchase can alter his affiliation to suit the battle at hand. Each hero can level up to gain new abilities, and be outfitted with the various sorts of Iso-8 to enhance their statistics. As in any RPG there is equipment and items, but only your S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is capable of equipping anything. And if your agent is knocked out in battle, the use of your items is gone.

Where Avengers Alliance truly succeeds (and where other Facebook games fail) is that you never hit a pay-wall. Yes, you can easily throw money at the game to afford more of the various points or currencies involved -gold, especially, is very hard to come by- but by playing through the game your characters will level up of their own accord.

Pestering your friends with requests is almost a must in games like these, but who else will staff your army of jets on your very own S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier? More friends also means being able to call them in to battle to deal one serious blow, only to run away after. Every friend has their own “cityscape”, as it were, and by visiting each friend’s “cityscape” you can collect various coins and regain the ability to call them in as an assist.

Even when you have to leave the computer for awhile, you can send your heroes off on missions using the S.H.I.E.L.D. jets. When they return you’ll receive an amount of silver and experience respective to the amount of time they were gone. For me, this actually allowed me to get homework done while feeling like I was progressing in the game simultaneously. Training Iron Man to use his Unibeam doesn’t happen overnight.

It may have Avengers in the title, but the character roster includes a whole score of X-Men as well. Unlike the upcoming comic event, no sides need be chosen. Granted, most characters will take quite a bit of saving up points to recruit. And while some will join your group after a certain number of missions you’ll definitely need to play favourites towards who goes into battle. Almost like an Avengers Pokemon. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance haven’t whet your appetite for a superhero crossover title, then why not try one out for free? We’re all already on there wasting time while we should probably be doing other things, so saving the universe seems like a good excuse to alleviate that conscience. With a surprising amount of content this one will have you shouting “Avengers Assemble” at the top of your lungs before you know it. Although you know the X-Men are better. Just admit it.