Geek: Bright, chunky graphics; huge selection of heroes; plenty of missions and extras; genuinely good fun to play
Weak: Limited appeal for older gamers; MMOs are not for everyone
Price: Free, optional membership
If you’re looking for a fun, free MMO that’s safe and perfect for your kids then look no further because Marvel Super Hero Squad Online ticks and awful lot of boxes and is fun to play, even if you’re not a kid any more. At least not on the outside.
Once you’ve registered, you can dive straight in, a brief tutorial telling you everything you need to know about how to play the game. As with most MMOs the controls couldn’t be simpler – just click where you want to go and click on objects and items to interact with them and enemies to attack them. When your attack meter is full you’ll be able to unleash your trademark power attack, which doles out huge damage to a big group of enemies and really comes in handy. As you progress through the game and level up with the experience points that you earn from each mission you’ll unlock bigger and better attacks for each of your characters.
There are different zones to explore, such as Daily Bugle Plaza, and here you can wander around, interact with other players and access your heroes and missions. You can chat to other heroes and make friends with them as well as playing missions together. Powering through a mission with a squad of heroes is great fun and while MSHS suffers from the same problem as other MMOs, namely that you have to do an awful lot of clicking, but one click on an enemy will have your character doing a pre-programmed combo so you don’t need to click yourself silly.
The graphics are great, with bold, bright colours and chunky characters that capture the essence of all your favourite Marvel heroes, but with a cute twist. The battle effects are great, the music is suitably heroic and the backgrounds offer plenty of detail. While it might not rival the likes of WoW for graphical prowess, the look certainly suits the feel of the game and makes it feel fun and friendly.
You get free daily missions and can also buy new ones with gold, each successfully completed mission giving you coins allowing you to access more missions as well as buying new heroes to add to your squad. You also get daily rewards, a good incentive to keep playing, which include gold and silver as well as tickets that you can use on the prize wheel where you can earn more gold, unlock more heroes and get items to use during missions too.
The number of heroes available to you is truly staggering – you get a few to start off with but the number that can be bought and added to your squad is vast and new ones are available all the time plus you can get different versions of most of the heroes (like Red Hulk, for example). You can become a Junior S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent which gives you added benefits such as monthly gold and access to exclusive heroes though you have to pay for the privilege; the game isn’t overly generous so to get the most out of it you’ll want to sign up but you can still get plenty of enjoyment and replay value from the free version, as long as you don’t mind being patient.
Marvel Super Hero Squad may have been designed for younger kids but it’s appeal is far greater and it’s genuinely good fun to play with plenty to keep you coming back and the fact that it never takes itself too seriously makes a refreshing change.
Verdict: Bold, chunky graphics, umpteen missions and a huge roster of classic Marvel heroes combine to make Marvel Super Hero Squad Online a winner. Excelsior!