You may recall my review of the first Super Hero Squad game, which came out in late 2009. In short, that game was among the worst I've played in the current console generation. Thus, my expectations were very, very low for the sequel. The long glimmer of hope I had was that since Marvel Super Hero Squad The Infinity Gauntlet would be available on the more powerful high-def platforms, some of the problems of its predecessor would be solved. For the most part, this was true; The Infinity Gauntlet is a much better game, but then again, that isn't really saying much at all.
Most of the major Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, and Iron Man are available, though oddly, Captain America is missing from the roster unless a DLC package is purchased. For true comic aficionados, there are some true surprises like Nova and the Black Widow available to play. When played in story mode, characters are preselected, but you can go back as any character in freeplay mode if you so choose. I don't usually like limited character choice, but in The Infinity Gauntlet's case, it's understandable.
This is because each character has a special attribute that allows them to interact with the environment in some special way in order to solve puzzles. Iron Man and Black Widow can operate computers with the Tech skill, while Thor and Nova have the ability to open up Elemental rifts. Heroes have different special attacks, too, ranging from Quicksilver's speedy whirlwind to the Invisible Woman's force bubble slam. While most of these skills are very simplistic, they do help differentiate the characters from one another. Otherwise, each Squad member plays the same, with your standard punches, kicks, and charge attacks.
The storyline and characters in The Infinity Gauntlet are quite entertaining. The banter between characters and the trash talk to enemies is often hilarious, though of course a bit juvenile. As the tale begins, Iron Man and Hulk are picking up some new boots for Thor from a sort of outer space shopping mall. But, there's been a mixup, and they recieve the Infinity Gauntlet, a glove designed to hold the powerful Infinity Stones, instead. Like good little heroes, they decide to return them to their rightful owner, Thanos, who turns out to be a not very nice fellow who wants to rule the universe. The rest of the game involves teams of Squad members searching for the various Infinity Stones. It's simple, light hearted fun, especially for fans of the show.
The Infinity Gauntlet's action has a tendency to get repetitive. Each level has two or three generic enemy types that you'll fight over and over again. The puzzles break this up some, as do some interesting flying and shooting style sections. But for the most part, it's button mashing over and over again. Boss battles are a mixed bag. Some of them are extremely simple, some are ridiculously cheap, and some are in the middle. I felt the game was a bit on the short side; I'd estimate we completed the story in four or five hours. A few unlockable costumes and collectibles will keep diehard fans busy a bit longer, but it's not an epic-length title by any means.
Cooperative elements in The Infinity Gauntlet are improved compared to the first Super Hero Squad game. A revival mechanic allows you to bring a fallen buddy back to life. If both players die at the same time, a checkpoint is loaded. Even more cooperative are the puzzles, which often require one hero to use his or her power to open an area while another one pushes a button or grabs an item. Co-op is limited to only two players, and online co-op is not supported. It's shame more than two can't play at a time; two heroes isn't much of a Squad, after all. Challenge mode allows four players to team up in a sort of survival mode, but it just isn't fun enough to keep you coming back for more.
It's clear that Marvel Super Hero Squad The Infinity Gauntlet is inspired by the LEGO series of games, with cute characters, a sense of humor, and kid-friendly difficulty. But it lacks the polished gameplay, inspired boss fights, and challenging puzzles that make the LEGO games so good. The Infinity Gauntlet is a decent game on its own, especially when compared to the first Super Hero Squad title. But there's much more that could have been done to make The Infinity Gauntlet appeal to those who aren't fans of the license.