Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Kinect begins with a fantastic little animated scene where all the Marvel super heroes we have come to love are blasting away at each other and running amok in the streets of Manhattan. Unfortunately, after this scene ends and the game begins, and what is left is yet another Kinect game that will likely end up in bargain bins in no time flat. This being said, Battle for Earth is fun in small bursts and I have to admit throwing my hands up in the air and thrusting my arms forward like Iron-Man as I launched a power strike was satisfying. Yet when you take into consideration this Kinect game will run you around $50.00, Battle for Earth remains a game that is difficult to recommend.
At its core, Battle for Earth is a fighting game. Yes there is a semblance of a single player story but it takes a distant backseat to the real action of the game, and that is emulating the fighting moves of your favourite Marvel hero as you kick some Skrull butt. For those of you who are curious, the basic premise of the single player game is that the Skrulls have managed to transform themselves into Marvel super heroes and are planning a “secret invasion”. So you, as various Marvel heroes, must take down those sneaky green Skrulls dressed up as a hero in the ultimate battle for earth. I give the development team kudos for coming up with some kind of storyline as they could have easily ‘mailed it in’ and trashed the idea of a story altogether. That being said, I just have to be honest here and tell you that the story held no interest for me whatsoever.
When you first fire up the game you can jump into a campaign, battle online, or try one of the various fight modes, which includes arcade, tournament, versus, tutorial or challenges. You fight as one of the 20 characters that include the likes of Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Loki, Spider-Man, Super-Skrull, Thor, Venom, Wolverine, etc. Many of the fighters remain unlocked at the outset; however, it is really not long before you unlock them all.
As you would expect, you control your on-screen persona using your body as the Kinect detects your body motion. Battle for Earth does a nice job in terms of showing you the various moves, strikes and counters attacks and each character has their own distinct fighting style as well. The game displays little picture stills at the bottom of the screen when you are fighting which clearly shows you what position your arms, legs or body need to be in to accomplish the said move. Iron-Man will do such things as hold his arms out and thrust them forward to perform his signature attack while the Hulk will smash the ground and pick up large chunks of boulders or concrete and launch it towards the enemy. You will also use some voice commands from time to time as well, which startled my dog at times and certainly seemed out of place, but I think kids will get a kick out of the occasional voice command yell.
For the most part the Kinect does a nice job at picking up your movements. Sure there are some exceptions if you rush a particular move, but by in large part the responsiveness of the Kinect controls is decent. Each character has some power moves at their disposal but chaining together a sting of power combos can be tricky. In fact, I had a heck of a time chaining together any moves. Besides the relentless punching and mashing while in mid-air I never felt like I was effectively able to chain off a series of combo attacks. Yet simple punching, kneeing your opponent and other guided moves went off without a hitch. I did however feel like I didn’t have a lot of freedom to attack as the game does seem to guide you a little too much and I did feel restricted at times.
The fights themselves are pretty quick and it is easy to move up the ranks. Little ones, should you let them play it (it has a Teen rating) should not have a problem with some of the movements or racking up a lot of Xbox achievements in no time flat. As I mentioned the game does not always respond as it should but this is not entirely uncommon for Kinect titles. Perhaps with more time spent with the game you will start to compensate for the Kinect’s shortcomings. I should also warn you, the game does get repetitive quite early and I did find myself getting a little bored after only 25 minutes of gameplay.
Visually, Battle for Earth is a good looking game. It has a cel-shaded style and it suits the game quite well. Its comic book feel and overall presentation was much better than I expected. The characters moved as they should and the battlegrounds where the fights take place feature some vibrant colours and detail. This being said, I was disappointed that the game features comic book picture stills in-between levels. I would have preferred animated sequences or something with a little more pizzazz. Picture stills are something I have come to expect from handheld games and not full price Xbox 360 games. Sound wise, Battle for Earth is nothing spectacular and features that dynamic music we have all heard a thousand times over. The voice work is very minimal and other in-game sound effects offer nothing incredibly original or innovative.
Overall, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Kinect stands as yet another title in a long line of motion based games that fails to deliver an experience which would put the game into the must buy category. I can count the number of Kinect games on one hand I would recommend gamers buy and Battle for Earth is not one of them. While the game’s simplistic combat, overall look and satisfying power moves will certainly appeal to younger fans of the Marvel Universe and may even warrant a purchase for them, those who are not Marvel Fans may just want to pass this Kinect title by.