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Mobile review round-up: 'Avengers Initiative', 'Guardian Cross', more

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Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest mobile gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week brings players The Incredible Hulk, intergalactic air hockey, a fantasy card battling game and stealthy rat dissection.

Image of the 'Avengers Initiative' app game
Avengers Initiative

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: £4.99 / $6.99

The first episode of Marvel's ambitious Avengers Initiative game focuses on the surprise star of the summer superhero flick, the Hulk. The story revolves around a mysterious breakout of the world's worst super villains, as the Hulk hunts them down to restore the peace.

Gameplay is ripped straight from Infinity Blade as players face off against minions and bosses in one-on-one fights. Tapping arrows on either side dodges while a limited use block button can protect you from an attack. Once the enemy is off balance from dodging, players can swipe the screen to unleash the Hulk in a flurry of punches. The formula repeats itself in each level, with enemy variety between levels helping to keep things from becoming monotonous.

Players can also upgrade the Hulk as they progress, though the upgrade prices seem to favour in-app purchases or replaying the early stages over and over again. Marvel fans and those looking for a challenge after Infinity Blade will want to pick up Avengers Initiative for its comic book story and fantastic cinematic visuals.

4 Star Rating

> Download 'Avengers Initiative' from the App Store



'Shufflepuck Cantina' screenshot
Shufflepuck Cantina

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Air hockey and aliens make for an excellent match in Shufflepuck Cantina. Inspired by the Apple II classic Shufflepuck Café, Cantina has players working their way up the ranks in an intergalactic air hockey league. There are currently three tiers of progressively difficult challengers, with more on the way in future updates. Each alien opponent has its own style punctuated by a signature move, which helps the computer-controlled personalities stand out and replicate the feeling of a human opponent.

By winning matches you will earn credits, allowing you to buy new pucks and paddles at the shop or unlock the additional tiers with a host of new aliens to play against. There is even a basic multiplayer mode for two people sharing a single device, though the lack of true online multiplayer is a shame. Even without the online option though, Shufflepuck Cantina is a challenging and wacky trek through the stars.

3 Star Rating

> Download 'Shufflepuck Cantina' from the App Store



'Guardian Cross' screenshot
Guardian Cross

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Square Enix has released its new free-to-play deck building game, Guardian Cross. Players build a deck of ten cards from hundreds of possible cards, each with their own unique attributes and statistics. Battles take place quickly, with the top card from each player trading blows until one is defeated and the next in line steps up. While the battles are completely automated, the strategy comes into play from organising your deck to anticipate your opponent. Unfortunately, there is seldom any indication of what to expect, so the best strategy is often simply to stack your most powerful cards and hope that their elemental attributes align with the enemy's weaknesses.

You can upgrade your cards to improve them, however at the expense of sacrificing other cards. New cards are captured through a satisfying hunting mini-game that could easily have been its own standalone iOS app. The whole game is tied together with a surprisingly lengthy story and the high production value art expected of a Square Enix game. And once players get the hang of the story, a challenge coliseum lets you put your deck against other real players for item rewards and competition for a top spot on the leaderboards. The collectible card game is less complicated than something like Magic: The Gathering, but also highly accessible to all.

3 Star Rating

> Download 'Guardian Cross' from the App Store



'Dishonored: Rat Assassin' iPad screenshot
Dishonored: Rat Assassin

Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free

Bethesda has taken the ever popular Fruit Ninja as its base and twisted it for Dishonored: Rat Assassin. As the name implies, players will be swiping the screen to chop the furry rodents in half as they fly across the screen. There are three modes of play, offering a surprising amount of content for a free promotional game. Assassination is your basic survival mode, where you must slice all rats and avoid touching bombs. Timed is much the same thing, but with a time limit. Challenges, on the other hand, offers 36 stages of rat and bomb patterns easy, medium and hard difficulty options.

Continuous play opens up a range of unlockables, including new backgrounds, blades, music and more objects to slice aside from rats. The only downside is that it is all quite dark, with the rats often blending into the background and making them harder to slice than it should be. Unlocking brighter backgrounds can help, but even at its best Dishonored: Rat Assassin is still a far cry from the easy playability of brightly coloured fruit.

2 Star Rating

> Download 'Dishonored: Rat Assassin' from the App Store



What mobile releases have you been playing recently? Add a comment in the space below!
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