Marvel’s Avengers Review – Reassembly Required

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While Marvel might have lorded cinemas and pop culture for the last decade with the endless barrage of movies, TV shows, animated stuff and the like, there was one thing that was missing all this time, and that’s a proper video game featuring the heroes we know and love. Sure, we got an excellent Spider-Man game, but it wasn’t the Avengers, which fans all over the world wanted to play as. Well, that has changed with the Square Enix-published Marvel’s Avengers. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, is this the superhero team-up game we all wished for or does it get snapped into nothingness? Read on for our Marvel’s Avengers review.

Starting Strong

Before anything else, Marvel’s Avengers starts with the player taking on the shoes of a young Kamala Khan, as you learn the basic moves of the game. This also ties in to A-Day, which is the main crux of the story that’s surprisingly engrossing and mysterious.

We won’t spoil any big story moments, but it’s here where Crystal Dynamics shines the most. You can tell that the studio is suited to developing big, AAA single-player affairs, with the action punctuated by impressive set pieces from beginning to end.

The first part of the story is where we’re also introduced to the main baddies of the game, and it’s a tightly-woven script — at least for the most part. This first phase is also where the Avengers fail and where I was honestly surprised at how well paced the story was. Clocking in at around 8-11 hours to complete, the story mode is definitely well worth a playthrough, and when you add in the fact that this is also the mode where you unlock the other Avengers and learn the basics for each, well, this mode is the first thing players need to experience upon booting the title.

All About That Superhero Life

While the main story mode is loads of fun, admittedly, Marvel’s Avengers main draw is being able to play as an Avenger with your friends, and taking on enemies, and all the while earning loot and making your character stronger as you do so.

There’s a certain element of push and pull happening within the game, and I don’t envy the devs in designing it. Superheroes by nature, should be super, and just be able to flat out decimate enemies left and right. But implementing that into an actual game without breaking game balance? Yeah, not an easy task. Same with character progression, gear/loot, and even enemies.

In the comics or even MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), characters don’t “level up” and gain new moves. But given this is a game, that mechanic needs to be baked in, lest the devs give you everything at once and makes the game too easy (not to mention overwhelming). Thankfully, Crystal Dynamics has nailed down the progression system where it’s not too much of a grind for skill points, and being able to unlock new moves and abilities for each character feels rewarding.

However, the same can’t be said for loot, I’m afraid. In the traditional sense, loot doesn’t make a lick of sense for the game. I mean, the Hulk getting new shoulder pads or something to make him stronger? That doesn’t make sense, and what’s worse is, you don’t see these armor changes in your character. You do get used to it as you go along (to some degree), but still, I have to admit that not seeing your character’s appearance relect every big armor change is jarring given we’re used to collecting armor setpieces in looter shooters.

Speaking of the MCU, people should know by now that this is in no way connected to the films, but you can clearly see Crystal Dynamics being influenced by them; from the dialogue, character personality, and even combat moves. The good news is: you will get used to the non-MCU versions of these heroes eventually, though I sometimes wondered how much more fun the game would be if it had the proper tie-in to the MCU.

I Can Do This All Day…

One thing Marvel’s Avengers really shines is in combat. Each hero the game has available at launch all play differently, and each have their own strenghts and weaknesses that it’s a treat to test out different characters to see which one suits you best. While every character has the same combat idealogy in the sense that there are light, heavy combos and supers, they don’t behave the same way for each, that you won’t find yourself doing the same thing for one hero with another.

Another good thing about the combat is how Crystal Dynamics has found a good balance between functionality and style. Combos, super moves, special moves and the like, are mostly all functional and look friggin’ awesome as well. The first time you see Iron Man use his repulsor and laser combo? Yeah, pure comic book geek out.

That said, there are annoying gameplay design decisions when it comes to combat. Possibly one of the biggest offenders are the SPIN enemies that can steal all your Heroics (abilities) in one hit! I’m not even talking about stealing parts of it, but all of it — which means you can’t do any skill once they hit you. That said, Crystal Dynamics has been very receptive to fan feedback, so most of the gameplay-related issues are being looked into, though it might take some time.

We’re in the Endgame Now

With Marvel’s Avengers being a game that focuses on online gaming and loot, it falls under the now-dreaded GaaS genre (Games as a Service). This means that players will be playing the game long after the main campaign is finished, and they’re doing so all in the quest to make their characters reach the apex of power levels the game has to offer.

Unfortunately, this is where Avengers falters. With our review being published a month after, we were hoping that this would have given the developers enough time to cycle out missions, bosses and more. As of now though, that hasn’t been the case. Players will be replaying missions over and over in the quest for loot. While that in itself is unavoidable for all games in the genre (Destiny, The Division, etc.), it’s made more tedious in Avengers given the game’s recycled environments, and in most cases, enemies.

To date, there are still three bosses players can tackle for endgame stuff. While Crystal Dynamics has promised more are incoming, it’s not a good look that we’re about a month in and we’re still waiting.

Unannounced Marvel's Avengers Heroes

Avengers Assemble!

Marvel’s Avengers is a tale of two halves. While the campaign is a satisfying romp, the endgame and repetitive nature of activities (and enemies) means that the endgame loop is a bit dry for the time being. Still, given that we’re getting a new character soon, and with both Hawkeye and Spider-Man (the latter exclusively for PlayStation gamers) entering the roster soon, there’s a lot to look forward to in terms of content.

If Crystal Dynamics can push out more bosses, activity variety and maybe iron out a few bugs along the way, this could be a Marvel game for the ages. That said, we’re banking on promises that might or might not happen. We’re hopeful, but at the same time wary of what the future holds for Marvel’s Avengers.

As it stands now, Marvel’s Avengers is a solid game thanks to its single-player story mission, and fun combat mechanics. However, a rather average endgame loop has made this hero fall a few times during its flight.

If you have a friend or two that can join in on the missions, then feel free to add a point (or .5) to the score as the game feels vastly different when playing with friends. 

Score: 8/10

Pros:

  • Single-player campaign is fantastic
  • Combat is deep and each character feels distinct
  • Leveling up each Avenger and collecting/obtaining gear is a good timesink
  • Playing co-op and grinding for gear with friends is fun

Cons:

  • As of press time, bugs galore still in the game
  • Endgame activitiy is not varied enough
  • Enemies and envrionments need more variety and are recycled way too often

Marvel’s Avengers review code provided by the publisher. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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