A Vote For Registration: Andy B On The Civil War online video game

Whose side are you on? That was the question that haunted the Marvel Universe for the better part of this decade’s last half. The Marvel Comics Civil War was one of the company’s strongest events, not just in the 7-issue mini-series created by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, but also in the various crossover issues and smaller mini-series like Front Line.

The concept of Civil War was relatively simple – after a battle in Stamford, Connecticut that left some 600 civilians dead, including 60 children, the government introduced The Superhero Registration Act, where heroes were required to reveal their identities and work under the auspices of the S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Government. This decision didn’t sit well with some, like Captain America and Luke Cage. But for others such as Iron Man and Reed Richards, the Superhero Registration Act was a sign of the times. Battle lines were drawn, friend fought against friend, and people died. The results of Civil War continue to reverberate in the Marvel Universe, and subsequent event comics have arguably paled in comparison. I recall thinking after reading the original mini-series how it would make an awesome video game. And it will.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 will hit stores for all consoles this coming September. While the original Ultimate Alliance game, released back in 2006, featured an original storyline, the sequel will follow events in Secret War, the prelude to Civil War, and then go right into the acclaimed mini-series (no doubt with some amendments; this is a video game after all). This is the sort of thing comic book fans dream about; if we can’t get our Massive Multiplayer Online (not yet, anyway) then at least we get to play out one of comic’s greatest stories. Even better is that we don’t have to wait until September to get a feel for battle.

Head on over to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 website and you can register to play the Civil War turn based game against other players around the world. Now normally I don’t go in for these online games. I don’t have a particular bias against them, but few if any have ever really appealed to me. But my love of Civil War and general curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to give it a shot.

After registering my details (I think we know whose side the developers fall on) and setting up a user name, I proceeded into the Civil War world. A variety of stars are found around the globe; who controls them is determined by their colour. The object of the game is to choose a star and duke it out against the other team for control. At least that’s how I understood it. To be honest, I just wanted to get into battle. After picking a star and having some random gamer choose the same one, we prepared for battle by selecting teams.

I chose to battle on the side of S.H.I.E.L.D (superhumans need to be policed, methinks) I was given the choice of various pro-registration heroes to form my four man team. I chose Iron Man, the Thor clone, Mr. Fantastic, and Deadpool. Once my team was chosen, we went to the battleground. Icons representing the two teams faced off across a fairly non-descript board, and we each proceeded to take turns clicking on the other team’s players and attacking them. If your health and power is at a full level, your players can do specialty attacks. You can also team up with another teammate at full strength for “fusion” attacks, combos which will play a large part in the Ultimate Alliance 2 game.

It took about 5 minutes for my opponent to kick my butt back to the Baxter Building. As a newcomer to the turn based strategy game (and as someone who didn’t read the rules) I didn’t necessarily know exactly what I was doing during the Civil War game. But even after a humiliating loss in what I would guess was record time, I decided to keep playing. I started thinking about which heroes at my disposal would make a strong, well-oiled, fighting machine. I started devising strategies which would weaken my opponents. And just like that, I suddenly got the hang of the game. Sure, I’ve lost some battles since. But I’ve won some too!

While I’m clearly no expert, the Civil War online game is a fun and free timewaster, and helps sets the scene for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Play a few rounds of Civil War and by the time the game arrives in stores, you’ll probably know for sure on whose side you stand.

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