"I watched Spider-Man being ever paranoid about being late to meet M.J. and I even got chastised by Xavier when I opted to follow the villain path the second time around."
Making the transition from card to video game isnít something I normally like to do. I prefer sitting down with one of my friends (or some punk kid) and talking trash after I pull off a spectacular upset. I just prefer the over all feel and atmosphere a card game creates. The last game I tried in a digital world was Yu-Gi-Oh!, and that was mainly for the limited edition card included in the box. So when I was offered Marvel Trading Card Game, even though it came with a limited edition card, I was a bit skeptical. As I played it, though, I noticed that Marvel Trading Card offered me something Yu-Gi-Oh! never did: incentives.
I donít expect a storyline from every game I play, especially a card game. Yes, I am the guy who spray-painted a plastic sword gold and took it out every time I played Yu-Gi-Oh! (itís a millennium item) for a little edge, but I canít really blame card games for getting boring after a while. Marvel, however, never did. Thatís mainly due to the fact that I could take on the role of either hero or villain, I could partner up with some of the unknowns of the comic industry like Spider-Woman and some of the greats like Daredevil and I could battle with some of Marvelís greatest villains (or heroes as the case may be).
Before each match there are also brief cut-scenes that lead you into the next fight and a fair amount of dialogue and intrigue to keep things interesting. I watched Spider-Man being ever paranoid about being late to meet M.J. and I even got chastised by Xavier when I opted to follow the villain path the second time around. The story can occasionally get campy as comics sometimes do, but itís certainly better than putting on costumes when I played in real life.
Not that I ever did that.
Trading Card Game remains loyal to its predecessor in every way, and made building my deck even easier. You can pull up the deck editor at nearly any point in the game, you can name it anything you want and it provides you with a view of your library, your deck and even the new cards youíve purchased. Adding or deleting your card is a one-button task, and the game provides you with a chart on the right hand side so youíre able to see exactly how many cards of that type you have in your deck and its team affiliation. Itís certainly better than thumbing through card after card until theyíre blistered.
The other cool thing is that the game provides you with percentages. If you tweak your deck, you know exactly what your chances are of drawing a character you can use in the first turn. The top of the screen will tell you how much of your deck is devoted to characters, equipment, plot twists and locations.
The one downside to building the deck, though, is that you donít get a lot of the more powerful cards until much later on in the game. My deck in real life was nearly flawless, and when I found myself in a tight squeeze, or had someone I couldnít put down, I would go out and buy new cards. However, in the game I no longer had those cards that I depended so heavily on, and no way to get them. I would either have to retry and pray for a lucky draw, or rework my strategyÖ but I guess that isnít always a bad thing.
Yes, Marvel appeals to hardcore veterans like myself. I imagine it would appeal to the newcomers, too. The tutorial goes over nearly every aspect of the game, from the simple rules to the more complicated tactics like team attacks and locations. If you find yourself in the middle of a game and are stuck on what to do, the game will actually highlight the options you have. It may be that you need to add a resource, or you may need to recruit a character. This game always gives you options and hints. I wouldnít recommend taking all of them, but at least you wonít have to exit out of a game to walk through the tutorial again.
I also like the fact that Marvel takes advantage of the PSPís wi-fi system and allows me to play with someone halfway across the world or my own neighbor and never know it. If Iím looking for a game and Iím bored with playing the computer, I can always find a willing victim, even at 3:00 in the morning.
Marvelís downsides are few and far between. It does bother me that the only way to earn money to buy new cards is to bust through story mode, and if youíre stuck trying to beat a harder character, youíre unfortunately stuck until you get a lucky draw. Most of the time it doesnít take that long, but every now and then you find yourself battling the same character repeatedly. I like the fact that there are a mass of things to unlock, like new packs and card mats, though you canít change the mats in story mode and you have to play a good many matches before you even get a new one. The gameís look made me feel like I was watching a moving comic, the background music--however--I just could not stomach. Voice-overs or a decent soundtrack would do this game a little good. I had to turn down my PSP volume all the way and throw on Disarmonia Mundi to set the right mood.
Itís a band.
Marvel Trading Card Game has flaws, yes, but not major ones and they canít completely distract a person from how entertaining this game is. Itís loyal to the original game it was derived from, yet it has enough incentives and new additions to make me put down the real version without a second thought. Much like ďThe PunisherĒ and ďFantastic FourĒ the comic Goliath has created another winner, and once again Iím marveling.
Get it? Iím marvelingÖ Marveling.
Ah, never mind.
Freelance review by Greg Knoll (June 10, 2007)
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