Marvel-Super-Hero-Squad:-The-Infinity-Gauntlet-Review Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet Review

   15/12/2010 at 23:06       Sillothian       2 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - Marvel Super Hero Squad, The Infinity Gauntlet, Griptonite Games, THQ, Stan Lee

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet is the second game based on the US cartoon series and the first to appear on the PS3 & 360. For a game aimed primarily at children it is no surprise that that developer Griptonite Games have chosen to mimic the format of the market leading Lego games. Unfortunately what we have here is a tale of missed opportunities and a game that ultimately falls short due to a lack of variety.

The basic premise of Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (MSHS) is that super villain Thanos has taken possession of the Infinity Gauntlet and needs to combine it with the six infinity gems to give him control of the universe. Iron Man and the rest of the Super Hero Squad take it upon themselves to put a stop to Thanos’ plan by finding the gems first. This will be easier said than done as these gems are in the hands of some of the most evil characters in the Marvel universe, such as Doctor Doom and Nightmare, who want the power of the gauntlet for themselves. You’ll have to fight through a whole host of bad guys on a variety of different worlds, if you want to keep the universe safe.

The game itself is a side scrolling, action adventure and as mentioned in the intro it takes its lead from the Lego titles. This was no doubt a wise move considering how popular the Lego games continue to be. On each mission you are given two members of the Super Hero Squad each with a different special ability, either Tech, Strength, Speed, Energy, Elemental or Animal. Just as in the Lego games these different abilities allow each character to interact with specific parts of the level, be it Iron Man using Tech to hack a console or Hulk using Strength to knock down walls. The use of the abilities is clearly explained in the opening missions and there isn’t much variety to how they are used after that. Another feature swiped from the Lego franchise is the freeplay mode, which allows you to replay completed missions with any character and use their differing abilities to unlock hidden items. Story missions and freeplay mode are accessed from a hub world that is the squad’s space station base. Though you are free to explore to station at will, unlike the hub world in the Lego games there is precious little to do other than find a few collectable items. These aid in the progress of each characters ‘Heroic Feats’ which unlock extra challenge maps and alternative costumes.

The main focus of each mission is combat with a little puzzle solving and platforming thrown in for good measure. Fighting the enemies isn’t difficult, but does become a tad repetitive as the action almost always descends into button mashing. Each character has a basic melee attack and a long range attack which is specific to that hero; Thor throws his hammer, Wolverine lunges forward with his claws, Spider-Man shoots out a web line and drags enemies to him. Holding down the long range attack button also gives access to another specific power. For heroes like Falcon this gives an extra attacking move, but others are given an enhanced defensive option. Scarlet Witch and Invisible Woman can both surround themselves with temporary force field. Defeating numerous enemies will eventually unlock a special attack which can be used to take out groups of bad guys. The combat is so bland though that halfway through the story I did find the game become a bit of a chore. Even the boss battles show little variety and I had little desire to go through the freeplay mode in search of hidden goodies.

There are a few basic puzzle elements to break things up and most require you to combine the abilities of both your heroes. If you do get stuck the game is extremely forgiving to the point of constantly holding your hand. Any part of the level that can be interacted with will flash and when you get near it a dialogue box appears telling you what it does. Hang about in an area for any length of time and the characters will all but tell you exactly how to proceed. This is a game aimed squarely at young children and will not pose a challenge to any serious gamer.

There is also another couple of gameplay types that crop up in the main game, flying and third person shooting. The flying sections are just on rail affairs where you have to dodge obstacles. The shooting sections see you manning laser turrets, throwing boulders and firing ice cream & tacos into Galactus’ mouth! All told the single player game takes about 7 hours to complete and progress is helped by the very generous checkpoint system. Like the Lego games MSHS supports two player co-op for the story mode, which definitely adds to the fun factor. Solo players will be glad to know that the ai does an admiral job of helping out with puzzles and is actually quite effective in combat too!

In addition to the main story there is a challenge mode for up to four players. This is split into seven different disciplines all but one of which is based on gameplay from the single player portion of the game. Survival has you battling waves of enemies, Soar-N-Score is flying, Blast-A-Thon is turret shooting, Defender has you protecting an objective, Super Smash is causing as much damage as you can in a set time, Iron Man Robo Racing has you racing robots and Hack Attack is solving a series of the hacking mini game as quickly as possible. Challenge mode is the only part of the game that supports co-op play and also has online leader boards. Extra challenges are unlocked by completing each character’s ‘Heroic Feats’.

The game’s presentation does a good job of replicating the style cartoon series on which it is based. While the graphics are bright and bold there is a distinct lack of detail in both the textures and geometry of the PS3 version, which gives you the feeling the developers just ran the Wii version through the upscaler. There are some nice touches though like when the Invisible Woman goes to punch she enhances her fists with force fields. The framerate is rock solid even when there is loads happening on screen and there is no tearing unlike every Lego game! Mentioning the Lego games also reminds me of the similarities in the quirky cutscenes found in MSHS to the story telling used by Traveller’s Tales. Slapstick humour and the over-exaggerated personalities of the characters keep the story line very entertaining. The voice acting is really well done with a few famous voices to be heard. George Takei puts in a great turn as Galactus and I kept expecting a ‘bazinga’ from Nightmare as he is voiced by Jim ‘Sheldon Cooper’ Parsons.

Overall this is an above average game that will probably keep the kids entertained for a week or so, but even they will eventually get fed up of the repetitive gameplay. As I said at the start of the review it feels like the developers of Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet had the template of the Lego games in mind when they made this game. It's not enough though to just incorporate the main features from another game (hub world, co-op story, freeplay mode, quirky cutscenes) and expect to have a hit on your hands. The gameplay in MSHS is so lacking in variety that I found myself getting bored with the game well before the end of the story and certainly had no desire to redo levels in freeplay mode just to unlock hidden extras. I'd say Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet is at best worth renting to keep the kids quiet for a few days!


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