Marvel and Disney have just today announced a brand new, episodic game for smartphones and tablets called Avengers Initiative. It’s a swipe-fighting game, a la Infinity Blade, but with loads of Marvel heroes and villains.
The app, which is already available in some countries, should be in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store no later than midnight tonight. It’s made by Wide Load Games (Stubbs the Zombie, Disney Guilty Party), in association with Disney and Marvel, and it’s exclusively for touchscreen devices. The initial download will cost you $6.99, which may seem a bit pricy for a touchscreen app, until you hear that Avengers Initiative is a game being released in episodes, and your initial purchase covers all future episode releases.
The game’s story kicks off after a strange pulse of energy from space causes a jailbreak at The Vault, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s prison for superpowered villains. Nick Fury calls in Bruce Banner to recruit the Hulk to hunt down the escapees and bring them back where they belong. The first episode has you playing as the Hulk in a number of no-holds-barred battles against several of Marvel’s monster-like villains, including the Abomination, Wendigo, the Kronan, and the Skrulls. Future installments will send you on missions playing as other core Avengers, including Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. These playable characters will each have their own skills, fight moves, and tactics.
Each hero will contribute to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s investigation into who masterminded the jail break and why. And this storyline is part of the shared “Marvel XP” story that started with the same space-borne energy pulse in the Facebook game Avengers Alliance. (Marvel XP is also a system that keeps all of your points and achievements in a single profile across a planned collection of multiple games, with built-in in-game rewards. Alliance and Initiative are the first two.) The story was written by Marvel mainstays Fred Van Lente and Alex Irvine, with contributions from Greg Pak, who wrote the celebrated comic book stories Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, among others.
You fight with swipe-to-fight gestures — a gameplay mechanic that dates back to the original Infinity Blade — complete with regular swipe attacks and combo moves. You’ll level-up as the game progresses, and unlock new gear as you go, too. You can fully customize Hulk with new costumes, new abilities, augmentations, and more. The visuals are optimized for the Retina Displays of iPhone 4+ and iPad 3, and whatever equivalent Android devices there may be, and the audio includes fully spoken dialogue for all characters by the same voice actors that portray them in Marvel’s animated TV shows.
Beyond all the fighting, there are also explorable environments, where you can find useful items like medkits and a mineral called “ISO-8,” which you can use to unlock the aforementioned costumes and augmentations. Play-through of the first episode is estimated at about four hours.