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Marvel Trading Card Game (PSP)

60
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3.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  blefuscu (424)
Written on  :  Sep 22, 2008
Platform  :  PSP
Rating  :  3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars

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Summary

Fight with your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains!

The Good

First off, let me state that I do not play the "real" tabletop version of this card game or any other trading/collectible card games, so my review isn't skewed by that perspective.

VS works well for superhero combat, and the flow of the game is fast and fun.

The built in tutorials are fantastic. I never had to read the manual to figure out the game.

There are also numerous strategies you can employ that go beyond just "fighting" with your cards -- for example you can build a deck that whittles down your opponents using special abilities only. Different deck builds also allow for early/mid/late game victories, etc.

Luck is also a big factor. It's a double edged sword -- one the one hand, it means that a novice player can do quite well in the beginning when they haven't figured out all the tricks of deckbuilding and the AI strategies. It's also very needed against the final mission and some boss levels where the AI begins with better and/or more cards. Conversely, once you've mastered deckbuilding and know how the AI plays, it still keeps the game challenging for you.

The game also has a lot of play value. The hero campaign is 54 scenarios, and each scenario game can take anywhere from 10min to an hour depending on lucky you are and how well you know the game. The villain side is also about 50 missions (I haven't finished this yet), and plus there are puzzles and free play options.

Naturally, the comic themes are the other aspect of the game I enjoy. As I mentioned initially, I do feel that it represents the comics quite well, and many characters are designed appropriately with powers matching that from the storylines.

There are a great number of decks/teams/themes to try; just on the hero side there's Spider Friends, Marvel Knights, X-statix, X-men, Squadron Supreme, Avengers, Fantastic 4, and each of them has a very unique strategy (sometimes more than one). Plus many of the teams can be mixed -- even villains and heroes -- for even greater variations.

I personally thought the movie interludes were well done. There's no true animation -- it's more of panning/zooming across the comic book panels and cutouts of the characters moving across the screen. It's not a real cartoon but truly "animated comics".

The Bad

However, the animations don't have a real story behind it, and is just a way to introduce the upcoming battle. I'm sure many comic book geeks will be disappointed by this, but I, as a casual Marvel fan, quite enjoyed it.

Some people complain about the interface, and it is a bit confusing at first. However, when you have a limited control set with these console pads, I think they did the best they could. The only real issue that I can fault them with is not allowing you to "go back" when you've made a mistake, but one that hasn't yet affected the game and in real life I'm sure you've be allowed to retake. For example, say you selected the wrong attacker you want to use but haven't initiated the attack yet -- well, too bad, you are locked into the attack.

The AI is quite capable, but also becomes a bit predictable after you've played about half of the first campaign. Sometimes that's actually due to the designers giving them predictable -- or weak -- decks, such as when you go against the Sentinels, who usually only spew out low cost characters. In those instances all you have to do is wait a little and bust out some mid-power characters who can pop many low cost opponents at once.

Usually the AI knows how to deal with or avoid special powers that you have in play (i.e. not hidden), but there does seem to be obvious fault of the AI design, in that it doesn't seem to be aware of a certain X-men character's ability even when it's on the table. This can be a very easy exploit tactic against him; however, it's a high power card so you need to survive long enough (and also be lucky) to draw it. I think there are one or two other cards that the AI doesn't also seem to acknowledge you are running, but it's not as obvious as this.

Some cards do seem bugged or some characters have inactive powers, but after using or going against at least 95% of the 852 cards in the game, I would say there's only a handful that have this problem.

The biggest problem I faced is the replication of the "collectible" aspect of the real VS card game. You begin with a very mixed deck that works decent for the first few missions, and you gain points to "buy" new card booster packs as you win scenarios. The cards you purchase are random, but limited to a certain set per chapter. The problem is even with all the cards you buy, you will get crushed by the boss of the first chapter unless you are real lucky. This is true of all the bosses probably till mid game, when you can play the puzzles to get more points for more packs.

The Bottom Line

I would highly recommend this game to any Marvel fan. The interface is a bit clunky at first, and I would that's probably why many people get frustrated with it.

The battles do get repetitive, but I think it's paced well. This is how I've experienced it -- each 7 chapter is composed of 6-12 scenarios, and the first third of the scenarios you will be beaten a lot while you figure out the AI's deck and your deck. Then the middle third you've got a good handle on it and can win more than you lose. The last third you usually sail through quite easily (except for the boss battle). Just when you've gotten comfortable, you're in a new chapter and have to relearn and challenge yourself again.

I especially enjoyed it on the PSP as the games are quite short so it's perfect for when I'm on long or short carpools, waiting in line, etc. Fantastic!