Avengers (and the rest) assemble!
Ubisoft's revealed the full character list for Avengers: Battle for Earth, the Kinect-enabled brawler that'll hit stores at the end of this month (with a Wii U version due two weeks later). Marvel fans will recognize the names on this list, as the game draws on the comics' Secret Invasion storyline from a couple years back, while even comics neophytes ought to know the game's big names like Wolverine and Iron Man. But who else will you be controlling--and what exactly will your Kinect-flailing compel them to do?
Marvel's original Black Widow was a mass-murdering vigilante Satanist, next to which the Silver Age's sexy Soviet defector seems a bit mild, but Cold War-era antiheroine Natasha Romanova is the one who stuck around, so that's who you get here. The Russian double-agent is resistant to aging, capable of withstanding disease, and a superhumanly strong world-class ninja and gymnast, which we're betting are her most useful skills in a fighting game. This is all due to her Cold War conditioning, which was intended to turn her into a super-Russian but just made her a really great asset to SHIELD after her defection. Good thing too, because who would America have that could possibly counter such a soldier?
Even if you don't know comics, you probably know Captain America; and if you don't, the name and star-spangled get-up should be all the primer you need. One of the headliners of Battle for Earth, Captain America was created in 1941 when US scientists used pumped a secret chemical formula into uber-weakling Steve Rogers, making him the Hitler-punching supersoldier we all love today. Besides ensuring that Marvel characters aren't all speaking German today, this had the effect of producing a tough-but-agile brawler with long-range shield attacks who ought to provide a solid first choice for new players.
Victor von Doom is the arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four, but by the time you've established your character as a super-genius master sorcerer with deadly hand-to-hand skills and a suit of armor that protects him from pretty much everything in the universe, it's probably okay to put him up against every other hero in a game or two. In fact, Doctor Doom is one of the go-to supervillains for Marvel-based games, having played antagonist roles in everything from NES-era platformers to this year's Avengers Facebook game. His powers include psychic projectile attacks, a high resistance to damage, and of course vicious rhymes.
After making Spider-Man together, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (mostly Ditko) created Dr Strange in the early 1960s. That decade's obsession with weirdo psychedelia and mysticism would have a deep and enduring effect on the character that has battled everything from Lovecraftian tentacle-monsters to the Egyptian god of chaos since then.
While not one of Marvel's top-tier properties today, the character's a frequent guest star in other comics and games such as Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Given that psychic projections, energy attacks. and whatnot are pretty much de rigeur in a brawling game, it'll be interesting to see how Ubi chooses to distinguish this freaky-deakiest of Marvel's heroes.
In a cast of overpowered superhumans, Hawkeye stands out because his superpower are limited to aiming arrows well and his origin is merely, losing his parents made him sad so he got tough and cool. With a fighting style that favors agility and inventive use of his environment, Hawkeye is a master swordsman and (obviously) unmatched in his proficiency with a bow and arrow. Expect plenty of trick-arrow attacks and fleet-footed evasive moves.
Marvel has always had a knack for humanizing the weirdest of heroes with quintessentially sympathetic psychological traits, and the Incredible Hulk--a smart guy with uncontrollable rage issues--is no exception. Of course, for most people this means a spell in anger-management, but this is comics, so the Hulk's rage is what triggers his transformation into an uncontrollable smashin' machine.
While the character didn't play a role in the Secret Invasion storyline, you'd be a damn fool to make a game about Marvel heroes beating each other up and not put Hulk in it, and Ubi apparently aren't fools.
The Human Torch
Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is the only member of Marvel's Fantastic Four to put in an appearance in Battle for Earth--which means we miss out on bashing folks with Rex Reed's rubber limbs, turning Sue Storm-invisible at key moments, or declaring every everlovin' hour of the day to be Clobberin' Time. But it also means the game will have a stack of fire-based attacks, projectiles and flight powers, so, good tradeoff.
The Human Torch was last played onscreen by Chris Evans, who went on to also portray Captain America, making Battle for Earth one of the only games we can think of to feature two characters who've been played by the same screen actor. (Nolan North doesn't count.)
One of the five original X-Men, Iceman's powers, it may not surprise you to learn, are based on freezing the atmosphere around him into solid ice. This enables a range of manouvers and attacks, including frost blasts, the ability to create complex weaponry out of thin air, and the power to cross large distances quickly with the creation of instant Ice Slides. Within Battle for Earth, expect a quick fighter whose special attacks can freeze opponents solid.
Iron Man's most significant power as it pertains to us mere humans might be his strong hand in propelling Marvel Studios to the Hollywood A-list, but within comics the character has been a fan favorite for years. Iron Man has a nigh-indestructible super-suit which he attained by being really smart and really really rich, making him basically the best guy in the world as far as non-superhumans go.
The character's role in the Secret Invasion storyline sees him tricked and publicly discredited, which we expect he'll combat in-game by hitting things really hard with repulsor beams and shooting missiles at everyone.