Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 4 September 2020
Price: $59.99 USD/$89.95 AUD – Available Here
Marvel’s Avengers is a third person action-adventure game. The game stars Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and Thor. After the events of A-day, the Avengers are disbanded, and its members driven into hiding as Inhumans with superpowers are systematically hunted down.
Kamala Khan, a young Inhuman and Avengers superfan, is the star of the campaign. The story focuses on her journey to adulthood and assuming the Ms. Marvel persona. It is a heart warming coming of age tale that is driven by Kamala’s infectious personality and youthful energy. I can see her jubilance and immaturity rubbing some people the wrong way, but her journey into adulthood touches on a lot of relatable themes.
The dialogue is witty and well written. The script fits in well with the tone of other Avenger films I’ve seen in the past. Players looking for some story content beyond Ms. Marvel will be glad to know each character has their own mini-campaign which provides a little extra meat for the short campaign.
Marvel’s Avengers is a third person action adventure brawler with some RPG and shooter elements. The launch roster only has six characters, but Crystal Dynamics is opting for a battle pass-style content scheme that will add more characters for free alongside paid hero challenge cards that unlock cosmetics, crafting resources, and currency for completion. Unfortunately, Sony has rights to Spiderman, so Spidey will be a PlayStation exclusive.
Each hero has their own unique fighting style but have a common set of input combinations. It makes the game less technically challenging and allow players to jump between characters with ease, but some may find the limited combo set to be restrictive. I find the early character levels to be the dullest as most abilities have yet to be unlocked, resulting in players getting away with a lot of button mashing.
Combat is a tightly executed affair with only a few minor hitches. Most characters rely strictly on traditional third person mêlée combat with ranged combat as an afterthought or a situational attack; however, unique abilities like Thor’s flight and Blackwidow’s powerful ranged attacks do provide a little strategic variation. While button mashing will get players through the first few levels, Marvel’s Avengers quickly becomes a more skillful title requiring dodges and counters to survive later levels and higher difficulty settings. Dark Souls fans will probably scoff at the difficulty peak, but it is enough to give the average gamer an enjoyable challenge without hurling a controller across the room. The controls are tight and responsive for the most part, though I found there were a few enemies that were nearly impossible to dodge no matter what I tried.
The level design is decent, though the more linear story-heavy levels outshine the open world levels. The game consists of a campaign, mini campaign missions, and generic open world missions found on the War Table. The generic open world levels are bland, dropping few random objectives in an open map. Most of the objectives are optional, and the length of the missions tend to be painfully short if the side objectives are skipped. The generic missions pale in comparison to the story-based missions, especially the linear ones with a heavily directed experience. These missions feel more cinematic and are willing to experiment with more challenging puzzles and a little bit of stealth once in a while. The higher number of required objectives stretch out the missions better, even the ones that opt for some open world elements from the generic missions. The story heavy nature gives the campaign missions a sense of purpose beyond grinding.
The user experience is good, though a few PC features could have been executed better. The third person mêlée genre tends to play better on a controller, so its understandable that the mouse and keyboard experience isn’t up to par. The developers do make the best of the situation and allow most keys to be rebound, but there are some odd hiccups. Menu keys can’t be reassigned and how toggle aim is handled clashes with the standard control scheme for third person shooters. Tapping the aim button toggles the aim; but instead of simply tapping the fire button to shoot, the player still needs to hold down aim again to fire a projectile.
Marvel’s Avengers offers an excellent graphical experience. The visual style is inspired by the films, but the game still retains a comic book flair with the cosmetics. The UI is minimal and fades away when not in use which gives the game a cinematic flair. On the technical side, PC users are given a beefy set of visual options worthy of a AAA PC title, including high resolution texture packs that will likely only arrive on consoles with the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
The audio is excellent. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics hired top talent for the game and snatched Thor’s original voice actor to boot. The supporting cast are skilled enough that even the unnamed character lines are only slightly behind in quality. The sound effects are solid, giving combat a heavy thump worthy of a superhero title. The soundtrack is great, mixing traditional video game scoring with a few licensed tracks to give the game a cinematic feel.
Marvel’s Avengers is an enjoyable experience. The story is excellent, and the audio/visual experience creates a cinematic feel. The combat is fun and strikes the right balance between accessibility and difficult. There are some issues with content. Those looking for a longer story heavy game will be a little disappointed as the story content is on the shorter end of the spectrum. Those more interested in a multiplayer loot grind with superheroes will probably get some more mileage out of the game until more content is released. Their experience will be more heavily focused on the duller generic War Table levels. While I think the game is still a solid title, the content issues are what keeps the game from reaching a must buy status for everyone. Sure, the free content updates may solve the shortage, but we can only review what’s released now.
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