Marvel characters are hotter than ever thanks to the success of The Avengers movie this summer. Now Marvel is looking to ride that wave of cash into putting out more games and content, and Avengers Initiative is the latest in their growing library of iOS titles.

Nick Fury has a mission for our big green friend -- go into town and round up all of the villains who have escaped The Vault. Fury and the other heroes will tackle their share on their own. This helps to set up episodic content for future downloads. So no getting to play as Iron Man just yet, kids. For now you're stuck with The Hulk.

Can't talk about Avengers Initiative without drawing direct comparisons to Infinity Blade. That's because it borrows Infinity's control scheme almost to the letter. Which is cool if you're not sick of playing games like Infinity Blade. We got the sequel, then Batman Arkham City Lockdown and now The Avengers. Was Infinity Blade that creative that we're going to be playing clones of it for the next five years? I hope not because it's a tiring combat system.

BOOM! Eat these fists, robo-bro!

Face off against various foes as you make your way to the bosses in each area. Fight Skrull soldiers, Mandroids, Kronan Bashers and more before taking on guys like Wendigo, Zzzax and The Abomination. Like Infinity Blade, you press a button to dodge or swipe the screen to counter attacks, then when the enemy is stunned you swipe your screen again like mad for a few seconds and deal out damage. When Hulk's Rage meter is full you can choose different Rage powers like Unmatched Might or Neverending Fury. They look cool but don't do any real damage until you're higher up in levels. (Wanna level up quicker? Only cost you $1.99!)

Controls seemed pretty responsive though there were some times when Hulk just stood there and ignored my commands. You may also find it tough to counter-swipe when you have no clue what direction the enemy attack is coming from. But you'll pick it up after repeated play. Finishing moves are available but once you've seen all of the pre and post fight animations, you'll be using the handy arrow in the lower right corner to fast forward through most of it.

C'mon Wendigo, buy some pants at least.

Once you've managed to dodge/swipe your enemy to death, the game counts up your experience points. When you level up, you can spend your level up points on things like Stamina, Damage, Health, etc. The game was fun to play the first time through but when I got to The Abomination, he was at Level 25 and I was at a measly Level 8. He handed me my ass and after three tries I had the joyful experience of getting to start ALL OVER. That's right, you keep your stats, but now you get to start all over again. Oh, what joy.

This is what defeat looks like. It was nice of Abomination to show me the exit.

As you play you'll find crystals called ISO-8 lying around. Collect these to purchase items like Medkits, Rage Packs and Rebound Packs. You can also save up your ISO-8 and purchase costumes like the King Hulk costume, Fear Itself Hulk, Savage Hulk and more. Don't have enough ISO-8's to buy them? Lucky for you they have in-app purchases! Spend anywhere from $1 to $50 to buy more crystals. Augments are also available for your character. Use these in slots to augment your health, damage etc. They're necessary purchases so make sure you grab as much ISO-8 that you can. A little crystal bonus game is also scattered around the world to collect some extra coin.

Might take me a while to save up for this...

The graphics are pretty incredible on the new iPad. The game's characters really come to life and The Hulk is drawn beautifully. Background detail looks nice and you should always take a second to look at your surroundings and appreciate the detail they put into each stage. Voice acting isn't bad but when The Hulk yells it sounds like how a five-year would yell if he were pretending to be The Hulk. Even the bad guys yell like sissies. Put a little bass in your intimidation, boys!

Avengers Initiative isn't a bad game, it's just a game you've played already. For $6.99, the in-app purchasing is a bit much and I don't recommend buying anything extra. You don't need it if you want to beat the game and wait for future episodes. Speaking of future episodes, will those also cost $6.99 to play? If they do, then look forward to your wallet getting smashed by Marvel. We puny humans will buy anything!


App Store Link: Avengers Initiative for iPhoneiPad | By Marvel Entertainment | Price: $6.99 | Version: 1.02 | 1.05 GB | Rating 9+

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating