Although I grew up a devout fan of the Marvel Universe, I didn't take any time to play Marvel: Avengers Alliance since wasting my days on Facebook is not my cherished dream. I'd rather eat the hours tapping on an iPad, which makes the iOS launch of Avengers Alliance absolutely enticing.

Players begin the game as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is tasked with helping the super heroes stop a horde of villains from destroying Manhattan in the wake of a disaster called the Pulse. With over 40 Marvel heroes and 180 villains, Avengers Alliance is the fulfillment of a comic book geek's dream. If, however, you're looking for a visually stylized and elaborate combat fighting system, you've come to the wrong place. This is a turn-based, strategy driven experience, and on that level it absolutely flourishes.

The great news is the game is entirely free to play, and although there are in-game purchases, it's not mandatory to shell out cash to enjoy Avengers Alliance. It costs 10 energy bars to perform a mission, but if you run out of energy all you need to do is put your device down and wait for everything to refresh. It takes six minutes to create one unit of energy, so hopefully you have a few more apps to play in the interim. Gold bars, which buys you energy and supplies, can cost up to $100 to purchase (for 500 bars).

Again, this whole free to play, in-game purchase issue is entirely dependent on the gamer. Down the road, I wouldn't mind throwing out a few bucks to help further my cause, especially since slashing cutthroats with a kitana has been crossed off my bucket list.

Avengers Alliance also adds dimension to the genre by enabling players to deploy certain heroes on certain missions, which in turn earns them experience points and silver coins. Once you unlock a number of heroes, you can send them off to do your bidding while you and the first team continue Story Mode. Multitasking is the best way of leveling up your agent and your fellow team members, and it also brings a refreshing variety to its turn-based aesthetic. Each side mission your respective hero engages in will take him or her away from your squad for a certain amount of time, so try sending off some of your B level members (i.e. Black Widow) to do the dirty work.

Although its foundations lie in action, Avengers Alliance's thrill centers on how one is able to manage their task force. Heroes will either have a neutral, powerful, or dominant advantage over certain enemies, so figuring out which members to place in combat mode becomes important in later rounds. Even though your fighters regenerate on the next mission, it's a good idea to keep them all alive and victorious, since your overall score will be significantly higher. Also, whatever you do, make all those villains bleed (especially Whiplash!).

Avengers Alliance is a worthy addition to Marvel's already immense world, and getting the chance to lead your team into the breach is a pure joy. Whether you're a vet of the Facebook game or an iOS addict with a superhero complex, Avengers Alliance delivers the goods, no matter whose turn it is.


App Store Link: Avengers Alliance for iPhone & iPad | By Marvel Entertainment | Price: Free | Version: 2.0 | 41.5 MB | Rating 9+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating