GamesBeat

Avengers Initiative is the next step in uniting Marvel’s new gaming universe

The Hulk is always angry. And after the abysmal release of two sub-par films and 2008′s The Incredible Hulk game, who could blame him? Marvel Comics is hoping to make amends by having him star in the first chapter of its episodic series for iOS and Android devices: Avengers Initiative.

Riding on the hype of this year’s blockbuster Avengers film, Avengers Initiative is a game that will span multiple chapters, each starring a different member from Marvel’s iconic superhero team. And once you buy the game (chapter one is out on September 6), those future chapters come free of charge.

Developed by Disney’s Wideload Games, Avengers Initiative is a gesture-based action game, where you battle enemies 1-on-1 — from a perspective similar to the experience in Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade — and you can dodge, block, or counter incoming attacks, as well as perform special finishing moves unique to each character. In the demo shown to GamesBeat, the Hulk navigated the wreckage of a S.H.I.E.L.D. transport as he encountered Kronans and collected dossiers and audio entries that fill out some of the game’s backstory.

Rather than being a stand-alone experience, Avengers Initiative is a continuation of the story and characters in the Avengers Alliance social game on Facebook; playing one in conjunction with the other will net you gifts in both titles. Facilitating this discussion is Marvel XP, a persistent online hub meant to unite the Marvel Gaming Universe going forward.

“It’s not just a narrative connection; there is a gameplay connection from one to the next,” said TQ Jefferson, vice president of game production at Marvel. “So one of the things that we want to do just in general with the games is really knuckle down and push for quality. We’ve had our share of not-so-great games in the past, and what we’ve done is taken another hard look at ourselves and the way we approach the games and game industry, and identified our three core tenets: Which is fun and engaging gameplay, a compelling story, and true character experiences.

“So [if] we hit those three notes, we feel that we’re servicing Marvel properly,” Jefferson said. “We’re gonna put together a gameplay experience that’s gonna excite fans, draw non-fans, and it’s going to be a quality experience.”

The game places an emphasis on character customization when it comes to both aesthetics and building your stats. For the Hulk, a large variety of costumes, such as his gladiator armor from Planet Hulk, unlock as you play the game, with some containing passive bonuses (pictured in the gallery below). Between leveling your stats and using the different combinations of the costumed pieces, you can tailor the Hulk to play exactly the way you want him to.

While the story begins with the Hulk, Avengers Initiative won’t wrap up until the last episode, due sometime in 2013. Marvel and Wideload have a “rough schedule” of when these subsequent episodes will come out, but wouldn’t specify beyond that.

“[For] additional character episodes we’re still trying to work out the scale, but this is a full game’s worth,” said Patrick Moran, game director at Wideload Games. “And because we want the release to be more regular than not, what they’re gonna be is shorter experiences. But they’re gonna be full character arcs…they’ll have their own new levels, and they’ll have their own new gameplay. So we’re putting emphasis on features over just filling it out with more content.”

Stay tuned for the GamesBeat review of the first episode.

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