With Marvel Studios' "The Avengers" continuing to clean up at the box office with over $1.4 billion in tickets having sold worldwide, fans have been wondering about the lack of a video game tie-in for the popular franchise. Fear not, as Ubisoft is hard at work on "The Avengers: Battle For Earth," a game that will put you in control of the familiar team members -- and a few other surprise favorites -- later this year for Xbox 360 Kinect and Wii U. The company recently invited CBR behind closed doors at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo to give it a first look.
"Battle For Earth" will feature familiar characters from the film (Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk), but it's based more around the comics' "Secret Invasion" event. This means you're going into battle against the Skrulls, although, according to the demo we saw, you can also pit Avenger versus Avenger.
With the "Secret Invasion" storyline in effect, Ubisoft is able to bring additional characters on board for the project, including popular favorites like Wolverine and Spider-Man. The roster will feature over 20 playable characters in all, each one with special techniques that tie in to his or her powers. For instance, Spider-Man is able to use his webbing not only to distract enemies, but to enhance his own attacks through techniques like his zip-line kick.
During a gameplay demo, featuring Thor and Wolverine in one-on-one combat, we were given an idea of how the Kinect controls work with the game. (Ubisoft remained mum on the Wii U control set-up, though touch-screen controls are likely to be implemented.) Players move around the screen though slight leans with their body; if you lean left, you circle around your opponent to the left, and vice versa. You can also charge forward for quick attacks, swinging your fists and occasionally launching your opponent in the air, leaving them vulnerable for a quick air strike.
And that's just the start of what you can do. As Ubisoft demonstrated with Thor, you can raise your hand in the air to summon lightning, then shoot it forward by pointing at the screen and hitting your enemy. Another character with an interesting control set-up is Hulk, who can perform his thunderclap when you slap your two hands together, and can also pound into the ground when you perform a swinging-down motion with your fists.
For the most part, the Kinect controls appear to be very responsive. There was only one instance in which a kick couldn't properly be read by the device -- other than that, it worked like a charm, in a similar manner to Ubisoft's previously released Kinect game "Power Up Heroes." In the heat of battle, it's important to know which tactics work best for you. Fortunately, "Battle For Earth" should have a number of difficulty options available, so it's never too tough -- unless, of course, you want it to be.
For a Kinect title, "Battle For Earth" looks good thus far. Though we only saw the one background -- a battle cruiser that could very well be part of Nick Fury's Helicarrier -- it definitely gives you lots of room to do some damage. Likewise, the animation is superb, with each character performing their attacks with authenticity. Hulk's thunderclap, for instance, is loads of fun, especially as you watch sonic waves from the attack blast into an opponent.
Along with a single player campaign, where you're likely to run into Skrulls and villains including Magneto and the recently unveiled Loki, you can also team-up with a friend for two-player co-op action, standing side to side in the Kinect's range and working through a split-screen display. The Kinect version will also support online play via Xbox Live, and it's possible that the Wii U version should have a similar set-up with the Nintendo Network. (Ubisoft wasn't able to confirm during the demo.)
Though some Avengers fans may not be sold on motion controls, "Battle For Earth" should be a suitable action game for comic book fans and kids alike when it releases for the Kinect and Wii U later this year. Hulk smash!