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Flarkin' Awesome! v2 001 - Of Endings, Beginnings & Strike Forces

Art by @Z_Leo_B (on Twitter)

Cosmic Greetings! I am Leo Wyld, your Raccoonatic Commander (that's Rocket Raccoon's #1 fan any who are new here). It's been a long while since I have released an issue of Flarkin' Awesome! (A Rocket-centric article series I used to write). Some things have changed since the last issue of Volume 1. Not all of them positive, unfortunately. The place where I used to contribute and original home of the Flarkin' Awesome! series, Guard the Galaxy, is completely defunct. The domain URL was not renewed and roughly around the same time, its twitter handled was released and picked up by someone else. Guard the Galaxy meant a lot during an exciting time of my life. The Raccoonatics fandom was fresh and new to me and it all felt like the beginning of something incredible. But not everything panned out as I hoped and I certainly didn't expect the site to be gone just a couple years later. But from its ashes, Flarkin' Awesome! has, indeed returned. This is Flarkin' Awesome volume 2, a new beginning!

    As much as I do miss my glory days of Guard the Galaxy, a deeper-cutting loss occurred this past November. Marvel Heroes, the game that lit the spark for my becoming Raccoonatic Commander, that introduced me to so many amazing people, that led to me writing for Guard the Galaxy, in fact, was shut down. I put thousands of hours into that game. While I certainly was not shy about sharing my enthusiasm for it and getting anyone who would listen to check it out, I still feel I took it for granted. I see people lamenting how much money they had put into it, and I'd put in hundreds myself, but I would start over with nothing, easily, if I could play it again. It's not my fiscal investment that hurts me, I was proud to support that game as much as I could and do not regret a cent. What hurts is, knowing the precedent of other canceled online games, I will never get to play it ever again. The huge roster of heroes, each and every one with a full set of powers and a masterfully voice-acted suite of dialogue, with a variety of costumes so large it set a Guinness record. An open ended selection of game modes allowed for more replayability than a typical IP-driven title. Gazillion, at their best, were like part of the community and that community felt like home to me. As a whole, Marvel Heroes and Gazillion and the community together, was an experience unlike I'd ever had with an online game and likely unlike I will ever know again.

    But... we must move on and treasure those Marvel Heroes memories we had. While I don't expect another game to replace Marvel Heroes for me, there is still awesomeness in the Raccooniverse. That is essentially what I want to focus on in Volume 2 of Flarkin' Awesome!

    Marvel Games is no stranger to the mobile scene. They've had many mobile games, some no longer around, most still going, in a variety of gameplay genres. Contest of Champions. Avengers Academy. Future Fight. Marvel Puzzle Quest. Spider-Man Unlimited. And numerous others. But today I want to mention the newest... Marvel Strike Force!

Marvel Strike Force

Marvel Strike Force from FoxNext Games is a strategic turn-based RPG with story elements. If you played either of the Avengers Alliance games, the gameplay will likely remind you of that. It is particularly similar to Avengers Alliance 2, which replaced part 1's 2D-based art with 3D models and camera cuts during combat.

    Graphically, Marvel Strike Force is rather impressive for a mobile title. The models are consistently well-designed and faithfully represent the Marvel IP. Also of note are the game's combat animations and camera action. It breathes life into the various commands you give your heroes and to the actions carried out by your opponent(s), making battles an action-packed spectacle.

    Sound and music are ok, but nothing amazing. Nor is there voice acting. But that's to be expected of a typical mobile title. These sorts of games are often played with low or no volume, anyway. And, while it is not amazing, it also doesn't detract from the quality of the title.

   The writing is generally enjoyable. The premise is that a Kree warlord named Ultimus is traversing dimensions, conquering each one along the way and amassing an army from the denizens of those dimensions as he does so. When he reaches the dimension the game is set in (reluctant to say 616, since these games are generally in their own universes), Nick Fury reaches out to both heroes and villains to unite to stop Ultimus (even the worst of the worst villains wouldn't be very happy about being enslaved to an interdimensional world crusher, after all). In attempting to stop Ultimus you will battle the other dimensional versions of both heroes and villains who are, per the game's story, corrupted by Ultimus but weaker than the counterparts of the main universe. There is a campaign storyline specifically for the Hero side of the story, the Villain side of the story, and a Nexus story where the two sides work together.  In between combat stages and sometimes during, you will encounter text dialogue segments. These can be particularly entertaining, with that quips, snarks and one-liners sort of fare that would fit well in the comics.

    The roster is already decent, having representatives from the Avengers, Defenders, Guardians, and various villains. With Wolverine on the roster already, it is possible we could see mutants in the future, as well. In addition to the big names, there are also various no-named soldiers on both hero and villain side, such as SHIELD Medics, Hydra Rifle Troopers, Mercenary Soldiers, Hand Sorceresses, and so on. Yes, of course, Rocket Raccoon is on the roster, too! (I wouldn't likely be writing about this in a Flarkin' Awesome! is he wasn't!)

    Normally, unlocking a specific hero can take a while on Strike Force, but Rocket Raccoon currently has has own side event that you can play through to unlock him. You will, however, have to be level 30 to complete enough of the event to unlock him through that method alone (you can upgrade him further if you play full the through event, but each chapter requires higher and higher levels to play). Even if you wait until level 30, it's a much more direct way to unlock him than relying solely on random chance from the orbs used to unlock heroes in the game - and you get a nice little story starring Rocket along with the event, so there's that, too.

    I like Rocket Raccoon's model on Marvel Strike Force. It's not my favorite model for him (that would be on UMvC3, Marvel Heroes, or Avengers Alliance 2) but it's far from the worst I've seen him look. Importantly, he fits in with the aesthetic used for Strike Force models, so I can't complain. One downside, because all of his attacks are ranged and he is always floating with his jet pack, he doesn't get the close up action shots that heroes with melee powers get. But he is Rocket Raccoon, his powers should be his guns, so that's true enough to source material.

    Below are his four powers and animations for the three that have animations.

    Marvel Strike Force has its own version of guilds, as most online games do, called Alliances. You seemed to be placed in one at random if you don't create or join one yourself, once the feature unlocks for you at level 20. Me, I created an Alliance called The D'ast Raccoonatics (in honor of the Marvel Heroes supergroup that would have celebrated its fifth anniversary this month). If you are interested, feel free to look it up and put in an invite. I am a very casual player, so no real gameplay-related rules or requirements to being a member (although I would, of course, prefer you not to hate Rocket Raccoon if you are a member!)

    As with nearly all mobile games, Marvel Strike Force is free to play and download. There is monetization, mostly to expedite hero unlocks and play beyond the game's energy system, but it is a fair system and won't likely be a nuisance if you mostly play casually. If you do feel like you have to invest some cash, however, it is a fun, quality game with some real potential - I think there are games out there far less worthy of your investment, for sure.

    So, overall, I definitely recommend Marvel Strike Force! It's already risen to be one of my favorite mobile games, alongside Marvel Future Fight (which I also very much recommend, incidentally). I intend to keep playing it frequently myself and will be watching its future with much interest.

    Flarkin' Awesome! is back, Marvel Strike Force is itself flarkin' awesome, and I hope to share more awesome with you in the near future. But that's all for today, so...

Until Next Time, See Ya 'Round the Raccooniverse!

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