Marvel’s Avengers review: Never meet your heroes
Cynic that I am, I hadn’t been expecting much from Marvel’s Avengers, but the opening thawed my cold, dead heart a little. You play as a young Kamala Kahn at an Avengers fan event, collecting comics, coincidentally bumping into Thor and Cap, failing entirely at playing it cool. It’s a sweet way to introduce us to the least well-known of the supers we’ll be hanging out with, and a nice little call out to the Marvel fan base. She’s one of us.
Introductions over, then comes a cataclysmic event that scatters the Avengers and sets the game’s events in motion. Suddenly faced with a whirlwind tour through the abilities of the Avengers, all the charm and novelty drained away and I was trapped with a bunch of superhero look-alikes. Of course, they couldn’t get Hemsworth and Ruffalo, but the character models are just close enough to the famous actors to look like a history teacher doing his best to perform Tony Stark at an end of year school play. The actors are doing giving their all to the script, but the Marvel movies have come such a long way in terms of heart and comedy, and this initial banter just feels a bit soulless. Don’t even get me started on the villain you meet, Taskmaster. He sounds like an app you’d use to hire someone to come and put a shelf up and is about as threatening.
Once you’re through the prologue and into the real action of the campaign, I couldn’t help noticing how Destiny the combat felt. My first mission with Hulk and Kamala was set in a generic icy wasteland and had me protecting a node. A node! There’s something Taika Waititi never wrote into a script. As I Hulk smashed endless streams of identical enemy robots waiting for a timer to tick down, I took the odd break fiddling with my inventory. That’s very Destiny too, gear with different levels and special properties that can be upgraded, and the option to dismantle old gear for resources. It’s actually very satisfying, and the game is packed with chests full of new gear at every turn. And I really mean at every turn. It’s like the Container Store was having a mega sale and the Avengers just could not resist a bargain.
The combat is at it’s absolute best when your super attacks are ready to go – suddenly turning giant-sized for Kamala or an almighty clap that sends enemies sprawling for Hulk – the rest of the time it’s a dance of heavy attacks, light attacks, and dodges to move out of the way of enemies with that old favorite, the unblockable attack. What surprised me was that even so early on, I’m getting bored of seeing the same enemy types in every battle, utterly anonymous androids, and then some slightly fancier colored androids with bigger weapons. It just becomes a war of attrition, smashing wave after wave, moving from one area to another, hoovering up health, and starting all over again. I’m giving the game the benefit of the doubt right now because the supervillain character behind it all is genuinely sinister, and it feels like I’m still in the toddler pool when it comes to combat.
Hulk smash… 2020
I won’t spoil story details, but after a day one of avenging, I’ve just added another hero to my crew and unlocked the war map that lets me pick which mission I’m going to do next. So far, my favorite heroes to play as are Kamala – her giant hands will never not amuse me and she feels so fresh – and Hulk. Hulk is essentially a walking therapy session, you just smash everything in sight and really work out some of that 2020 anger. The missions haven’t been incredibly inspiring so far, but I’m hopeful that as my team grows and the challenges build, so will the variety in enemies.
We’ll be updating this review every day as we work our way through the campaign and multiplayer, and yes. we’re already arguing over who gets to choose which Avenger. See you tomorrow.