Thursday, March 17, 2016

Game Review - MARVEL Avengers Academy

Game Review: MARVEL Avengers Academy
Score: +7/-3
UPDATED SCORE: FAIL (updated: 2016-Jun-26)

I've been scouring Google Play for a decent game for my smartphone. Most of the ones out there are clones of each other. Various styles of play but generally focussed on addicting your time so that you end up spending money for convenience.
Mage and Minions is one of the very few that feels very different, and for very specific reasons I highly recommend it. MARVEL Avengers Academy shares a lot of the traits I really like.

The game basically plays like one of the Sims games: Characters have generic actions, and through a combination of "appropriate" generic actions you complete tasks that advance the story. The story happens offstage and and you get conversations that update you on what happen, and thereby advance the storylines.
You are therefore really only playing for various storylines, and getting characters to do things to accumulate resources and pass time. There's a little more to that, but this is the core of the gameplay.
There are occasional special events like the recent time-limited opportunity to recruit Blue Hulk and Red Hulk. And there are various triggered events that encourage you to spend money to recruit certain characters.

The game starts quite slowly, but once you have more characters and therefore a better ability to complete tasks, things start to get busier.
TIP: If there is a task on the mission board that takes a long time, you can click the small trashcan at the upper left to delete the task and get another one after a 20-minute refresh time.
++Great as a truly "casual game". It's single player and you really can put it down at any time without worry. Unless there's a special time-limited event, there's just no urgency.
+Unlimited play. You can play as much as you like without having to wait for "energy" to recharge. You are waiting for characters to finish tasks, though, and so it's not really conducive to a sit-down session unless you want to spend money to get Crystals to accelerate things. This is really a casual game for people who don't have a lot of concentrated time or just want to check in once in a while when they get a few spare minutes.
+Low demand on your time. There are no Daily Quests or any of that to addict you to checking in every day.
+You don't feel like you are missing out when you don't play. But do check in, in case there is a special event. Typically, however, you play at your own pace. 
+Single Player. Not only are you not competing with anyone (so you can't "fall behind"), but no one is attacking you so there's no urgency to advance quickly or feel worried you will lose resources.
+Decent graphics! A bit simple, but character animations are pretty good.
-Inane. Sometimes the stories are inane. You really have to get into the these-are-teens mindset. There's nothing serious going on here. Humour is also sort of weak. Nothing laugh-out-loud so far.
-Poor return for purchase. You can buy all sorts of buildings but the spread of characters actually using those buildings for Missions that award something is very weak. For example, I have the Maverick Dorm, but I have yet to see any mission using it.
-Decisions that seem stupid or that make no sense. Examples:
  • During the Guardians of the Galaxy limited event, Gamora can train her combat skills either in the Quad or at Club A -- but why not at the Cosmic Combat Simulator they got you to build? DUH.
  • There's a "Hone Deathblows" action for the "Club Life, Pt. 2" Mission -- and again, instead of the Cosmic Combat Simulator, they have Gamora doing that at the PUNCHING BAG in Avengers Dorm. DUH.

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