Review: Marvel's Avengers
Square Enix and Crsytal Dynamics , known from the Tomb Raider trilogy, bring us Marvel's Avengers. The highly anticipated superhero game is available for the current generation with a free upgrade to Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X|S.
It's A Day, Avengers Day! It is celebrated on the Chimera, the flying headquarters of the Avengers. The Chimera is full of tents, festive activities and many visitors come to see the Avengers up close. Kamala Khan is one of these visitors and this is also the character you will control for a large part in the game.
As Kamala Khan, you attend the party and search for magazines to earn your VIP access to the ceremony. Just after the ceremony starts, you see an explosion on the bridge in the distance. Fortunately, the Avengers are all there and you are thrown straight into the action. The intro mission starts where you briefly control several Avengers to get familiar with the controls of the game. Unfortunately, this time the Avengers fail to save the city.
We flash ahead 5 years. Kamala Khan, later known as Ms. Marvel, is a so-called 'Inhuman'. She possesses supernatural powers as a result of the disaster of 5 years ago. The Avengers are blamed for the disaster for failing to save the city and deliberately using unstable fuels. The result is a destroyed city and the Inhumans who are a threat to society. According to AIM.
The story begins
AIM puts the blame on the Avengers. The organization is led by Dr. Tarleton, a former Shield Scientist. Kamala Khan thinks something more is going on and sets out to unravel the mystery. She manages to break into the AIM servers and finds evidence that the truth has been tampered with. She decides to look for the 'Resistance', the resistance, consisting of other Inhumans.
After some detective work, she finds the wreckage of the Chimera. In this wreck she makes a very special find, namely the shield of Captain America, but after the find she is soon hunted by a green giant, the Hulk. The Hulk is not stable, but fortunately Bruce Banner is more open to reason. Now the story really begins and it's time to gather the rest of the Avengers in hiding and take on AIM.
Avengers, Take Aim!
Marvel's Avengers picks up quickly in a compelling story that's told in a pretty good way. Frankly, I was positively surprised after my first hours in the game. The beta of the game left a very bad taste because it all felt so uninteresting and superficial. Fortunately, this is not the case and there is more depth and personality than I expected.
Especially Kamala Khan as a character is very well developed and you notice very well that slow but sure transition she makes. From the beginning to avid Avengers fan to eventual Ms. Marvel itself. The mutual interaction between the Avengers feels good, is believable and fun to experience. You feel the conflicts and it gives a much more colored picture of all events with all the associated consequences.
In addition to the enjoyable story and the nicely developed character interactions, it's the gameplay. During the game you control different characters. In most story missions you can't choose which Avenger you play. The game chooses these for you, but in some missions you can choose, such as in the Warzones that you can play in co-op mode or alone. If you play alone, your team will be filled by the Avengers you have in your roster and the AI will control them. This works incredibly well. The AI in this game, at least your team mates are smart and play wise. They even immediately help you to your feet when an enemy swats you in a critical condition. Real players can learn something from this.
The Avengers each have their own playstyle, their own skill tree with passive and active skills, their own equipment, their own cosmetic adjustments and even, yes, their own Battle Pass. At least, it looks exactly like a Battle Pass. It's a similar tier system where you have to complete weekly and daily quests to progress through the tiers to unlock cosmetic tweaks and trade goods.
It's also almost the only way to unlock cosmetic tweaks if you don't want to shell out extra money for a skin. There are only a few in-game challenges to unlock other notable customizations. You can also grind for it, but since there are so many Avengers and more and more are added this will take a lot of time.
So I can't find better stuff?
Yes, and even a lot. But the gear you collect by playing won't make your character look different. For example, as soon as you find a gear item, you will also see in the menu that it is attached under your suit. So you don't see them and they are only useful to increase your power and you will see this menu quite often because boxes with gear can be found everywhere. We love loot, but the problem is that every new thing you find is only slightly stronger than what you're already wearing. Usually it's only a level difference.
You can often make your current equipment stronger, but you will still find equipment that is only slightly better. So you are constantly moving new equipment back and forth in your menu. There's even a 'Put on Best Gear' button. At some point you will use this out of frustration because you no longer feel like making trade-offs. The fact that this button is there in the first place says it all I think.
Fortunately, the game plays very well. Apart from the many small bugs, Marvel's Avengers plays nicely. All the heroes feel very different and soon you will find a favorite. Personally, Captain America and Ms. Marvel me very well and I prefer to play one of these two when I enter a War Zone. In this mode you can make a free choice about which character you play.
You have to make each character individually stronger through gear, levels and power-ups. Your gear is actually the most important, because levels really only give you skill points that you can assign in one of three different skill trees per character. Assigning a skill point can eventually make you a little stronger, but effectively your gear is intended for this. Skill points usually ensure that you get new attacks, expand them or make them stronger by, for example, extending the effect of a stun.
Tactical, but not enough
In practice, it lacks the depth that it so clearly shows on paper. Bottom line, you just do what you think looks coolest.
Marvel's Avengers has an awful lot of attack types and combinations and performing these actions looks very brutal. There are stats and effects everywhere and every special attack has a certain effect in one way or another. Stun, knock-up, blow away and so on. They are tactical actions that you have to use well on paper to master everything. In theory a very well thought out and very cool system. In practice it is all a bit less exciting. Enemies are not smart and sometimes just stare at you until you decide to bury your fist in a mechanical head. In practice, it lacks the depth that it so clearly shows on paper. Bottom line, you just do what you think looks coolest.
In the end, I only made effective use of the counterattacks you can do by ramming into R2 in time if an enemy wants to attack you. Some attacks can be intercepted to counter-attack. If an enemy makes an attack with a red glow, you can only dodge it. Counterattacks actually affect the rest of the fight as they affect your special resource meter that allows you to be stronger, give yourself lives or use special attacks. Again this is different with every character and this is quite a cool system.
Like a Marvel comic book
It looks good, but it doesn't look pretty.
The story in Marvel's Avengers is very linear. Like reading a comic book. It's not an open world you'll be in, but all areas are mission based. From your headquarters you can start a new mission in a certain area. The areas are not very big, but offer you some space to explore. You won't make any significant discoveries, but you will find some boxes here and there, posts with enemies or a Shield employee who has been captured.
In general, the environments you end up in are not very spectacular and can often be called quite boring. It looks pretty good at times. Graphically, the game isn't bad, but there's little inspiration behind it and doesn't really leave you with glowing eyes. It looks good, but it doesn't look pretty.
The same goes for the characters. It all feels a bit uncomfortable. You can tell they are a bit like the Avengers from the MCU, but not enough. I couldn't get used to the faces of the characters during my playthrough. The only one I immediately had peace with was the Hulk and therefore also Bruce Banner. With him I immediately had the feeling that he was the Hulk. That's Bruce Banner. With the rest I didn't have that feeling at all, and that feeling never came.
As you may have noticed while reading this review so far, conclusions like 'pretty good' and 'okay' are common. And that's the best I can say about Marvel's Avengers. It's all okay. It's not worth mentioning and the positives are constantly plagued by the many lesser aspects of the game. I feel like Crystal Dynamics can make up for a lot by looking carefully at the game in the future and deciding what they actually want to do now. Marvel's Avengers feels like a hodgepodge of so many things together that it forgets to focus on something it could be really good at. Instead, the game is 'okay' or simply not that good on many fronts.
Fortunately, we are not finished with the Avengers yet because in the future there will be new content and more superheroes including Spider-Man on Playstation 4 and Playstation 5. Let's hope it feels more like the Avengers and less than B by then. -vengers.
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