Cyclops! Black Cat! Invisible Woman! Facebook Avengers Assemble! Facebook's Marvel: Avengers Alliance cares not for comic book continuity, focusing instead on giving players some sweet choices, and then making them pay for them.
Coming soon to a major social network near you that doesn't start with the letter Google, Avenger's Alliance lets you slip into the form-fitting costume of a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Like Samuel L. Jackson has been doing over the course of several live-action movies, you are tasked with recruiting heroes from a pool of 28 of Marvel's finest, many of which have never had a spot on any Avenger's roster. Begin with Iron Man at your side and then catch 'em all, from Kitty Pryde to more Kitty Pryde.
I really dig Kitty Pryde.
Strip Marvel: Avengers Alliance of its superhero garb and you've got what's basically a couple of different Facebook games mixed together into one spandex-covered extravaganza. You'll take your team through ten chapters of missions, each comprised of six chapters (one being a premium purchase). Those chapters consist of a series of turn-based battles between your two or three-man team and a series of peoples, leading up to a boss battle against a named Marvel villain.
It's a rather straightforward system. Complete missions, level up your characters to unlock new powers and upgrade slots. You'll also gather a little bit of each of the game's four different currencies, which is where things get a little confusing.
Talk about resource hogging, Marvel: Avenger's Alliance has four different resources to keep track of. There's silver, which is used to buy items, pay for upgrades, or fund research (which in turn unlocks more items for you to buy). There's gold, which speeds up things like research, training, or deployable missions you can send your characters on to earn more silver. Training and research also require S.H.I.E.L.D. points on top of money, and it's beginning to feel like we're being punished. Finally there are Command Points, which are used to unlock heroes and recruit them to your cause.
There are 28 heroes to add to your roster, each costing a certain number of Command points to unlock, that number likely based on relative power. Spider-Man on-again, off-again love interest the Black Cat costs eight command points to unlock. Spider-Man himself costs 65.
Maybe it's just a popularity contest.
Speaking of popularity, visiting your Facebook friends in the game will earn you Distress Calls, special items usable once per battle that summon powerful characters to your aid. There's also a player-versus-player element to the game, but I didn't get a chance to unlock it during my preview of the app.
So there'll be plenty to pay for once Marvel: Avengers Alliance goes live. Luckily the folks at Playdom have made it easy for us; we just buy gold, and then convert it into any resource we need. Thoughtful!
You can accrue these things naturally, of course. If the previous sentence made sense to you, then you'll be fine playing Avengers Alliance for free.
If not, you could be in for a dangerously addictive time. The urge to gather all of the heroes and level them up as high as possible sets in early, and it doesn't let go.
And it probably won't. Not until I have Jean Grey's Phoenix in my Facebook Avengers.
Marvel: Avenger's Alliance (Coming Soon) [Facebook]