Publisher THQ's first take on the popular Marvel Super Hero Squad cartoon was a bland beat 'em up that proved too frustrating for its tween target audience and too boring and button-mashy for older Marvel geeks. Despite this—and a disappointing 49% Metacritic score—the title sold enough copies to warrant a sequel. Thankfully, though, THQ is finally giving this potential-packed franchise the love it deserves, crafting a much-improved follow-up that smartly borrows elements from the popular LEGO games. Mixing the can't-miss appeal of Marvel's cape-and-cowl crowd with a utility-belt full of new and improved features, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet could actually have us suiting-up when it lands this November. Here are five reasons why:
Despite its cast of spandex-clad stars, the original game's visuals and controls were anything but super. While Infinity Gauntlet will still get a Wii port, the primary platforms are 360 and PS3, yielding pop-off-the-screen presentations that are barely distinguishable from an episode of the Cartoon Network hit. In addition to super-looking superheroes, environments, animations, and cutscenes get the true current-gen treatment. Playing on the 360 or PS3 also means more precise controls and zero arm-flailing.
Following the events of the show's second season, Infinity Gauntlet promises a better story with more adult-aimed humor. This doesn't mean Spidey and the gang will be spouting dick jokes or anything, but you can expect a smarter, funnier script similar to what the LEGO games offer. Spot-on casting, such as John O' Hurley—Seinfeld's pompous J. Peterman—as a gameshow-hosting Grandmaster hint at the funny bone-tickling potential.
The thumb-numbing gameplay of the original did little to complement the awesome powers of its cast. It was, after all, billed as a beat 'em up, but we still would have liked to see the fisticuffs mixed with more of the powers that make these characters cool. The sequel is correcting this, not only highlighting each character's defining butt-kicking abilities, but requiring their use to tackle specific tasks. Whether slinging webs as Spider-man or firing Repulsor rays from Iron Man's palms, Infinity Gauntlet will make you feel more like a superhero than a Rock 'em Sock 'em robot in spandex.
You'll spend plenty of time smashing through henchmen as the Hulk and carving up minions as Wolverine, but it won't just be your biceps getting a workout this time; taking another cue from the unstoppable LEGO franchise, Infinity Gauntlet's also piling on the puzzle-solving. Nothing too taxing on the gray matter, but players can expect the brawling to be balanced with challenges that require a specific character's power to solve. Additionally—and also LEGO-like—previously unreachable areas can be revisited once you've unlocked the appropriate power-wielding character.
The first game supported cooperative play, but a wonky camera focusing on player-one, made the experience more frustrating than fun. Infinity Gauntlet not only improves the perspective, but adds additional features to make the co-op feel more integrated than tacked-on. Dynamic team-based tasks will require players to combine their specialized skills to progress, while a new Challenge mode will enable up to three superhero-wannabes to take the world-saving action beyond the story's campaign.
Aug 10, 2010