RELEASED: September 4th 2020
DEVELOPED BY: Crystal Dynamics
PUBLISHED BY: Square Enix
DIRECTED BY: Shaun Escayg & Morgan W. Gray
WRITTEN BY: Shaun Escayg, John Stafford, Marek Walton, Hannah MacLeod, Nicole Martinez & Keano Raubun
MUSIC BY: Bobby Tahouri
REVIEW: I’m not a huge gamer. I’ll play the big games that everyone raves about from time to time (Witcher, Uncharted, Wolfenstein, Last of Us, Tomb Raider, etc) but my driving factor when picking up a new game is whether or not it’s something that aligns with my other interests. I bought my Xbox One after Star Wars: Battlefront gained a few updates. I sold it to buy a PlayStation 4 when Spider-Man came out. I later bought a Switch because I love Pokémon and Nintendo games.
So, regardless of the various perceived issues surrounding it, I knew I was always eventually going to give Avengers a go.
I played the beta for a couple of hours, and that persuaded me to go for the game sooner rather than later.
And despite what people’s initial opinions suggested, the core game is actually pretty good. Although not without its issues.
Avengers sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow – outcast after their new Helicarrier is sabotaged, and the resulting catastrophe destroys San Francisco and releases a gas that begins transforming people into powered beings known as Inhumans. In their absence, a new group called A.I.M takes over from S.H.I.E.L.D. and begins rounding up Inhumans in the hopes of curing them. One such inhuman, Kamala Khan, a lifelong superhero fangirl, discovers evidence that A.I.M. has darker motives than they let on, and travels across the country to reassemble the Avengers.
The game is divided into two parts. The campaign, that charts the fall and rise of the Avengers, and the multiplayer, set after the main story, which allows you to team up with other players and continue the fight against A.I.M.
The campaign is, thankfully, an enjoyable experience. It’s well written, emotional, reasonably well-paced and sublimely acted. While Nolan North’s Tony Stark takes a little bit of getting used to, the lead cast gives great performances as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, who embody a great mix of the popular MCU characterisations and the comic books they draw from. They really capture the spirit of their respective characters, making these not-quite MCU-depictions easy to fall in love with.
The music is rousing, and the constant build towards the Avengers’ final confrontation with A.I.M’s (giant) head scientist MODOK feels suitably cinematic.
The graphics, however, vary. In cut scenes, the character designs and the story look fabulous, but during gameplay, things can get a bit messy and uneven. That’s a pretty minor issue, but unfortunately, it’s not the only one. While I was relatively lucky with how my game played, many have reported the game to be ‘unplayable’, something I got a taste of when the game just completely crashed towards the end of the campaign. Similar issues saw the story completely lose all sound at multiple points, meaning at one point I had to re-watch a particularly important cut-scene on YouTube to get the necessary context.
Now, while I don’t really condone the practice of putting out a game riddled with issues, as many fans of this new experience will counter, it’s a live service game, and those issues will probably soon be fixed.
However, the bigger problem, which will take longer to fix up, centres around the games use of villains.
While it’s fun to see MODOK brought to life, and the Abomination and Taskmaster proved interesting little boss battles to kick off the campaign, as seen in the beta… that’s all you get.
You could argue that one of the other boss battles against one of A.I.M.’s lieutenants is technically an adaptation of a comic book villain – but when said character is just operating the same mech-suit as countless drones, and is flanked by the same unending sea of robots… it just feels a bit off.
As I recently saw someone point out, this is a game that has come out at a time when there are pretty much no restrictions on Marvel characters. Fox making their hit-or-miss X-Men and Fantastic Four movies no longer has any sway on what characters appear in ancillary material, so there’s a huge universe of characters up for grabs here, and Crystal Dynamic use pretty much none of it.
It may be unfair to compare Avengers to the likes of Spider-Man or the Batman: Arkham series, but those games were cheaper, had a better campaign and a wealth of villains in each instalment. Conversely, Avengers offers up no surprises when it comes to boss battles, just three characters we already knew about well in advance of the game’s launch. In lieu of extra super-villains, you instead just fight bigger robots, which frankly, ended up being quite boring.
It seems especially insulting when you consider the story itself. A world where the Avengers have been absent for five years. Surely, the super-villains should be running riot?
To be clear, I’m not even saying I expect big names, just C and D-List characters to fight against on side-missions. Someone. Anyone. You’d think the Avengers would have a lot of work ahead of them when they finally came back together, but nope: it’s just A.I.M. and their robots. Robots whose constant barrage of lasers and attacks from off-screen can sometimes make the gameplay more frustrating than it is challenging.
Because of all of that, the villain problem leaks into the post-game/multiplayer and becomes even more of an issue.
The multiplayer gives you the ability to pick a character and jump into side missions, attacking various A.I.M. bases around the globe with friends or strangers. Here is where the game should really be at it’s best, but instead it just stands on the precipice of falling apart.
Each mission is more or less exactly the same, just with a minor change in scenery. You’re dropped into your selected war zone, go to an objective, fight a bunch of annoying faceless robots and lackeys, move on to the next objective, rinse and repeat. Your motivation is to collect gear and costumes and power up your characters. But at the moment, I have to ask, to what end? There’s no greater threat, other than the occasional rematch with Taskmaster and Abomination, and the majority of the costumes available are just recoloured variants of the central three or four.
It has the potential to get boring and repetitive very quickly is what I’m saying (I’m not there yet but I can see it coming). Getting the relevant PS4 trophies is my driving motivation at the moment.
Compounding that problem is the fact that teaming up with other players isn’t as easy to access as one would think. The matchmaking is almost non-existent, and when you finally do find someone to play with, there’s no guarantee you won’t just end up playing a mission you’ve just played (if you can even tell the difference).
It’s a shame, but it has potential.
The main selling point of this game, really, is being able to play as the Avengers. And despite the game’s faults, that is something that is done right. Each character plays as you think they should, and each has a reason that makes them unique and worth trying out. I particularly enjoy flying around raining lightning on enemies as Thor, getting punches in as Cap and unloading bullets as Black Widow.
Beyond that, the rumoured future content makes this worth picking up, as it will, supposedly, do something to fix that villain problem, and give us new heroes to play as.
For all its faults, this is definitely, at its core, a fun experience. If you’re happy to forgo matchmaking and do your best to build up your characters, then you will get enjoyment out of this game.
However, as it stands, this game, currently, is not worth £60, purely because it feels unfinished.
As fun as it is, I would personally suggest waiting a few months until more heroes and villains have been added in, and pick it up at a lower price point.
As for my rating, I’ll hold off until the game’s been tidied up a bit and a bit more content has been added. It’s probably somewhere between a 3-4/5 though.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Have you played Avengers? And what do you want to see in future updates? Let me know in the comments below!
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