By Dean Moses
Game: Marvel’s Avengers
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
Cost: $59.99 (or $79.99 for the Deluxe Edition)
Marvel has created an epic shared cinematic universe, and although it was not the first franchise to introduce separate film protagonists into one overall continuity—that honor could well go to Universal’s monster series pitting Dracula, Wolfman, and the Frankenstein monsters against one another—it does have the distinction of making the feat stupendously popular. In an attempt to transfer that popularity over to the video game market, publisher Square Enix has, at long last, released Marvel’s Avengers to current generation systems with the promise of a free upgrade to next gen for all those purchase the title.
A Comic Strip not a Film Reel
Some fans of the movies may be surprised to learn that this game is based on the comic books—there is no Chris Evans or Robert Downey Jr. here. However, that does not retract from the original story being told. Many fan favorites like the aforementioned Captain America and Iron Man are present here, along with some more obscure heroes such as Ms. Marvel, who takes center stage.
After competing in an Avengers fan faction contest, Kamala Khan or Ms. Marvel as she soon will become, wins a trip to the heroes’ home base, the Chimera (a Helicarrier), along with many other contestants. While enjoying a comic con-esque show filled with games, meet and greets, and comic books, the fanfare is interrupted by an attack. This leads our super team into action. Unfortunately, our heroes are bested, the Helicarrier is destroyed, Captain America is presumed dead, and Kamala Khan is transformed into an inhuman (when a unknown chemical, Terrigen, is released giving her superpowers) on a date that is known going forward as A-day.
While every hero pretty much controls the same way, such as one button preforming a ranged attack or another performing a heavy strike, the moves themselves are vastly contrasting. For instance, Black Window will shoot her twin pistols, yet Ms. Marvel will reach out into the distance with her long, elasticated arms. Hulk can leap into the air while Iron Man or Thor can fly, making reaching high platforms a breeze.
It is this distinction between characters when playing online with friends that makes this experience special. I could be playing in close quarters, taking down enemies as Captain America while a buddy could be soaring above as Iron Man blasting goons with his lesser beams. It is not all superhero bliss though. While the main story missions capture the spirit of the comic book storytelling, side missions (which is where you will be spending a lot of time post story mode) often feel like a slog-filled grind. It can get monotonous pretty fast. Thankfully, this could easily be fixed with updated levels and mission designs further down the line.
A Marvel to Watch
On the visual side of things Marvel’s Avengers is downright impressive. Little details in facial animation and lush looking hair gives the player’s eyes a lot to take in. In addition, the cast is voiced by some of gaming’s greatest voice actors including Troy Baker (The Last of Us) and Nolan North (The Uncharted series.) Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the bland level design consisting primarily of underground labs and rocky canyons lets things down great deal. These extraordinary people deserve extraordinary settings to explore.
Marvel’s Avengers allows gamers to play as some of the world’s most popular heroes in what is, for many of them, their best video game outing. With an absorbing story and the promise of downloadable characters to come (such as Spider-man for PS4 owners) there is a lot to love here. However, there is also disappointment to be found in dull level design and repetitive side missions. Also, there are some serious glitches to be dealt with, such as blackened screens while waiting for a mission to start, the lag in interacting with checkpoints, and gameplay freezing. Still, Marvel fans will be glued to their controller for the foreseeable future.