Marvel Avengers, a true believer’s review
I’m going to start out that the video game Marvel Avengers was not aimed squarely at the old Marvel comic book fans like me and move on. It’s for a different generation of Marvel fans and centers around the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel who premiered in the MCU in 2013 as a 16-year old Pakistani-American from New Jersey about the same time I turned 40.
Khan is Not someone I kept up with, after playing through this game I might give a read now.
That said, she’s the driving force of the story, the central character, and although the beginning of it I found cringe worthy after the world goes to hell it gets off the DC-style superhero day idol schtick and gets down to what happens when your heroes failed you completely and yet find a road to redemption via a super fan girl. Not your thing? Don’t get it.
Side note – having actually read the terms of service I agreed to, legal disclaimers, and not having written permission, I’m skipping posting screenshots or video that I have created. You can find people’s videos of it here.
You start with all characters having about the same damage dealing ability. This irked me right off the bat because stretchy girl and the Hulk were the same power levels, and they were both abysmally low. Power levels get increased through gear that you find and equip and as you level up. So do the powers of your enemies. In the end it’s a race to zero as you’ll be hitting enemies at the same rates and dealing the same damage throughout (I mean it’s more damage, but the enemies have more health).
Fighting feels like you’re … somewhat fighting and somewhat watching a dice roll play out. You can block, parry, dodge, jump out of the way, or my personal favorite if you see someone about to hit you stun another opponent and start the high-damage finishing move and you can be doing that, hit by 20 missiles, and nothing happens while you’re in that animation. You’ll end up with more health.
Someone hits you and sends you flying it doesn’t feel like you’ve had anything other than a location change. Juggling your opponent in the air is a fairly common thing and also feels like you’re attacking a cardboard box rather than a large metal robot that perhaps a normal powered human (Black Widow, who I assume in this story line is still human,) is literally kicking into the air over and over again.
…Rinse and repeat
The missions consist of either going to places that involve a canyon, a few jumps, and then an AIM base, OR a force shielded off city, 3 roads, and an AIM base. After the first one I feel like you’ve seen them all. Be it snowy tundra (white dirt,) forrest (green dirt,) or Utah Badlands (brown dirt.) That or city with 3 streets and that one random parking area.
There are of course exceptions such as the highly standardized interiors of AIM’s evil labs. But it felt like the scenery was lacking, which had the combat felt more interesting might have been forgiven. There’s no way to get lost. No side paths that lead to anything beyond a dead end.
I have a limited amount of time to do anything. I know, woe is me. I expect that I’m going to sit down and play one of these missions for 10-20 minutes which is what most of them are, but they throw in some really really long missions in there randomly.
Some missions are go in rescue someone, mission over. Some are go in, explore, take this boss-level group out that you can’t escape, take out that boss level, let’s now upgrade, fight 40 baddies, break into a train, take the train to an underground facility, work our way down that, then destroy 4 really well built turbines while fighting two boss level entities at the same time and an army of flying things.
And then there’re the cut scenes that trigger after, before, or during. They’re pretty decently acted, but slewwww. It’s like reading a comic book, but slowwwwwwww.
As a game
It took me from a couple of days past release date until yesterday to beat it just because I couldn’t devote the time some of the missions took. One had me nearly giving up the game because it took so long I had to stop and restart it multiple times.
Beyond inconsistent pacing and a Marvel Universe I did not quite recognize, it was fun. I didn’t find anything particularly new or exciting about the controls, the combat, but the story was good and even though I felt like I’d fought everyone within the first 3-4 missions it did engage and keep me coming back.
Amusing, would pick up at $25 or so used.
As a story
I’d put this in two categories – as someone who isn’t a 47 yo comic nerd, it was a fun story that seemed to lack the ability to quite pull off the plight and sufferings of the Inhumans. Banner’s “we are the disease” response early on after the disaster felt a little like someone decided he had to be calm emo, or angry emo the whole game.
Other than Ms. Marvel / Kahn, I didn’t really feel there was much effort put into connecting the Avengers to more than one element – Iron Man “they stole mah tech”, Hulk “we’re bad, Hulk Smash”, Widow “I did something for money I’ll explain later and not ever explain,” Thor “there’s someone impersonating me I will smash!” and Cap… honestly I don’t know that Cap had anything to connect to – he just was.
Khan’s story arc worked to connect.
As someone who is a comic nerd and lover of Earth 616, lemme get my Cheetos out here – my assumption is this is a series branch of Marvel’s early attempts to make the MCU – Earth 1610’s The Ultimates (or I could be a bit off on that timeline, maybe the look and feel was coincidental.)
I’d followed some of the Ultimates, but dead center of that was the year I lost my mom and comics didn’t come back for a while, same with memory. I believe this series involved the Terragen Inhumans (produced by a gas,) as opposed to the Blue Spot on the Moon Inhumans I grew up with which were basically Moon Mutants.
The Avengers I know are presented as very shallow. They exist. Each has one point. This works for Widow just with how her character is, but Tony, Thor, Steve and Banner – it’d be nice to feel something out of one of them other than subdued miffed ire. Banner’s whole ex thing was presented with the passion and storytelling of “the evil girl was his ex, boo her” and his whole struggling to accept that the Avengers were a threat after A-Day seemed to lack direction
The intro to this game involves Khan showing up at an Avengers Day celebration and having to collect some comics and play really easy minigames in order to get up to watch the launch of a specially powered Shield Helicarrier. I can’t stress how much this felt out of place in the MCU – starting with hero worship felt much more like a Justice League / DC thing – Meanwhile in the Halls of Justice, Aquaman hangs streamers for the JLA Celebration day.
The Avengers at this point exist in a world in which they’re adored, have licensing deals for their images, have comics out, and are throwing a bash with fans who wrote stories about them. They’re also notoriously good at all having read a kid’s comic book.
Nothing quite sits right about the start, the plight and caging of the Inhumans sort of gets glossed over in a 5-years-later skip, and it feels like I need to go and read what happened there.
Bit of a mess, fun story though. I feel I should dislike it because it’s different but as mentioned at the start, I knew this game wasn’t aimed at me.
Marvel Avengers is available on Amazon for the XBOX One, and PS4. I would suggest waiting until it’s in the sub-$30 range personally as I feel at current pricing it’s actually going to constitute a letdown. There’s nothing new in the feeling of fighting games, and if you’re not a fan of Khan, you’re not getting much fan service from the other Avengers.