The Phoenix has risen once again, and Avengers vs. X-Men, Marvel's big crossover event, has gotten even bigger. Now it's moving outside of comic books and into video games, thanks to the facebook hit Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
The game, from Playdom and Disney Interactive, has over 2.1 million likes on Facebook, though active users is slightly harder to track. To reward those who play often, Playdom has been instituting "Spec Ops" missions, limited-time storylines that offer up exclusive weapons and new characters. The third Spec Ops is even more special, as it ties directly into the current ongoing comic book event Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Reinterpreted for the game, the AvX Spec Op does have some significant changes. In the game, Jean Grey is alive and well, and a long-established member of the huge squad you have to pull from. Namor, however, is not around, and rather than introduce two characters at once, Namor is actually replaced by Jean in this version of the story, leaving Jean as the fifth member of the Phoenix 5. With Emma having been introduced during the last Spec Op, and Cyclops and Colossus already in the game, that leaves Magik as the final member, and the exclusive new character.
The game plays out with the same basic style, though you occasionally have to use specific members of the X-Men, or the Avengers, in individual fights. Since this game splits your roster in two, it actually allows you (and eventually, if you want to earn everything including Magik as a playable character, requires you) to play each mission from two different angles, once as each team. Technically it allows you to do your own story bending with some "defections" as characters like Gambit, Scarlet Witch, and more are not "locked out," but the core casts will be unusable depending on your choice.
The new Phoenix-based weapons will be a welcome addition to the arsenal of any regular players, especially high-level ones. Magik, with her powerful teleportation spell move and the chance to call demon hordes from Limbo for an extra attack, may well be the most powerful character in the game yet, as well. Of course, getting all the Spec Ops requirements completed takes both lots of energy and lots of the temporary "unstable ISO-8," so hopefully you've saved a bit of gold, have lots of friends playing the game, or don't mind forking over some real-life cash for this one.
After completing your assignments, you'll be handsomely rewarded with several new weapons and a new playable character, and the Phoenix Force's presence doesn't just go away - the Phoenix Five costumes are also available in the game for purchase, complete with their own unique abilities. New locations like San Francisco and Alcatraz in particular, as well as Utopia, are also included with the update, alongside the existing New York areas.
Already part of the daily life of many Marvel fans, Disney Interactive and Playdom's commitment to keep the content fresh and relevant with these sorts of storylines is refreshing. It's one of those rare facebook/casual games that doesn't seem to get old, and that's almost entirely due to initiatives like this storyline crossover. This of course opens the door wide open to more future stories, like pulling in missions based on the first arc of Uncanny Avengers or another Marvel NOW! book, as well as exploring past stories.
Refreshingly fun, almost always with something new, and of course free, Marvel: Avengers Alliance continues to be the best facebook game yet, and the AvX Spec Ops mission illustrates why perfectly.