Marvel Super Hero Squad: Hero Up Preview!
by: Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
After the cancellation of the much anticipated Marvel Universe Online (thanks to a couple of licensing problems from Microsoft, it was remade into Champions Online), Marvel Enthusiasts were forced to be contented with offline games such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance and other less impressive X-men movie-based video games. Luckily, Marvel Comics hasn't given up on the MMO take yet. Entering the MMO scene is Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, an MMO web browser game that takes players into the world of Marvel Comics. In this game, players take control of existing Marvel characters such as Cyclops, Ms. Marvel and Captain America.
In comparison to DC Universe Online, I would say that this game is definitely for kids, with cutesy characters that look like plump deformed versions of their actual counterparts, and an almost 'cartoonish' world that barely signifies the actual seriousness of the Marvel Universe. I mean, it's not every day the 'Master of Magnetism' hits his own head with a frying pan after exercising his magnetic powers.
Upon registering, players are opted to name their squad, which is rather limited, considering the fact that you will be clicking 'Generate Squad Name' until you get your desired results. I suppose it was meant to censor inappropriate names, since the game is supposed to be for children.
In the beta, players start out with four iconic characters from the Marvel Universe: Cyclops, Falcon, Ms Marvel, and The Thing. These characters play somewhat different from one another in terms of range and melee capabilities. Upon leveling up, players can also gain access to other skills and emote actions for a more immersive gaming experience. Note that players are not limited to one character and may change characters at almost any time in-game.
Thumbs Up Soldier! We Are Here To Save The World
Compared to other MMO games, you don't really have to research fights, and it doesn't take a PVE champion to take down bosses like The Green Goblin and Magneto. In order to access missions, players must either click the mission icon on their toolbar or enter the portal to the mission menu. Once there, they can tackle the instanced mission of the day, which can either be done alone or as a group.
Group missions play the same way, but the enemies are a lot harder, so you will have to make sure you group up before embarking on these tasks. You can also pick a mission to play, but you will have to buy them individually via the in game store in order to access non-daily missions. Worry not though, because you will be able to play them all without paying if you keep doing daily missions.
The game sports a 3D beat'em up play style, similar to the likes of Final Fight and Fighting Force. Here, players can use and throw objects at enemies. They also have their own individual 'Hero Up' skills that sort of act as their ultimate move. These moves vary from damaging abilities, ranged beams, and charming enemies.
Spin That Wheel!
Unlike other MMOs, players don't earn currency by grinding on enemies alone. Aside from mission rewards, players are also given tickets, which are used to spin a sort of 'Wheel of Fortune', allowing them to gain furniture (will be discussed later), silver, and even GOLD if you're a S.H.I.E.L.D member. You can also take your time killing renegade robots around the city to earn extra tickets during your run.
Join S.H.I.E.L.D Now!
First of all, if you're interested in playing famous characters like Spiderman and Wolverine, then you're definitely better off paying for the S.H.I.E.L.D membership (around 7 USD per month). It's not really required to enjoy the game, but definitely a must if you are picky about your characters. Non-members can still purchase characters like Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, and almost every playable mission; however, what's the use of playing a Marvel game without characters like Thor, Storm and Hulk, right?
The fee is actually quite reasonable, since you will be able to earn GOLD points, instead of silver, allowing you to purchase furniture, characters, and cards without spending hours in-game.
Super Hero Sims
Being a Hero isn't an easy task, so what better way to relieve stress than going home to a beautiful HQ? Yes, in this game, players can buy furniture and other household items like lamps and chairs to further define their squad's headquarters. Note that this feature is purely for aesthetic purposes only. I personally would rather save up for a character than a new chair, but it IS pretty cute seeing Ms Marvel bounce on that large couch.
Graphics and Sounds
Overall, the games visuals are pretty solid. Not only does the game look like a client based RPG, the graphics are also superb (complete with fullscreen capabilities), all in the comforts of your web browser with no installation required (except for the content patch). The characters look nice and solid, and their special attacks are always a treat to look at. There's also a graphic option that allows you to tweak the settings, letting you to play the game on low-end PCs. The sound is rather generic, but still matches the overall cutesy theme of the game.
I Can't Wait
Seriously, although it's a kid's game, I really enjoyed it. It's fun, simple, and easy to learn... a good break after those long punishing raids in other MMOs. Marvel Super Hero Squad is still on open beta, so I'm sure the game will have more to offer soon, such as the card system. Though I'm not sure if it's an ingame CCG (collectible card game) or just there for the purpose of collecting, I feel that this game will not disappoint, so why not jump in and kill a couple of Skrulls? You might enjoy it!