It’s finally here! Marvel’s Avengers is here and brings incredible characters, wonderful story-telling, and exciting gameplay to the table. However, it also brings performance issues that dampen the experience. This review was made after playing the game on the PlayStation 4.
Below, you can see the CGI Launch Trailer which gives you a great look at each character in action and perfectly encapsulates the chaotic scenarios you’ll find yourself in when you dive into Marvel’s Avengers:
Firstly, The Main Story In Marvel’s Avengers Is Fantastic
[Light Spoilers Incoming, Brace For Impact!]
Marvel’s Avengers is a story of overcoming odds, believing in yourself, and resistance. By any account, it is full of themes that are just as relevant today as they were when the featured characters were created.
Throughout, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) provides the endless enemies and opponents for you to throw fists with. They, like any Marvel Villainous Organisation, seem to have endless people working for them who are ready to stand toe-to-toe with Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Co. Maybe they’re a little stupid?
Anyway, Marvel’s Avengers’ villainous antagonists are Monica Rabbachini and George Tarleton. Instantly, you feel an unusual duality towards them. Part of you is informed by the countless past-appearances of A.I.M. in Marvel media, recounting all their evil doings and what-have-yous. However, another part of you feels a level of sympathy for the two antagonists. In the A-day prequel, we see Monica and Bruce share an intimate moment. Both Bruce and George are careful of the Terrigen Reactor’s performance. On the whole, they all seem like aspirational scientists who are trying to improve the world.
Then, you see the events of A-Day. It’s actually quite upsetting, seeing the fleshed-out first mission that you sample in the Early Access Beta. You fully understand why the Avengers are fractured after it. The devastation is noticeable… Cap is gone….
Kamala’s Heart-Ache Instantly Pulls You Into The Story
In terms of picking a relatable protagonist, Kamala is BY FAR the best choice Crystal Dynamics could have gone with. She is the perfect focal point for the players to experience Marvel’s Avengers. She has a hopeful wonder when she sees Avengers references in-game, something undoubtedly shared by players throughout. Throughout, she also deals with self-confidence issues and self-doubts regarding her own abilities and heroism. Her triumph is an inspiration and an important inclusion to the story, but she isn’t the only one.
Marvel’s Avengers’ best story moments come when each hero is at their most vulnerable. Crystal Dynamics’ hero-packed adventure delves deep into the psyche of heroism and the expectations that would weigh on anyone with Avengers-level fame and ability, particularly the fractured relationship between Bruce Banner and Tony Stark shown throughout that dives deep into each character and results in their best video game representation to date.
Tony Stark has had his ego shattered. He has lost his best friend, in Captain America, and the rest of them when the Avengers disbanded. He is living in a ruined caravan outside his crumbling ancestral home. He is, by all accounts, at rock bottom. This fall from grace continually influences Tony throughout the story. His over-the-top humour and self-confidence seems a fragile cover-up for his deep-seated concern and fear.
On the other hand, Bruce Banner is shown to suffer a lot of the same issues as Kamala Khan. He knows he has failed and, for a long time, he reveled in it. When Kamala finds Bruce, he has been the Hulk for several years. After A-Day, he went to the crashed Chimera to attempt to uncover what went wrong. Sadly, he had little evidence and began to dig deeper and deeper into his guilt and anger.
Bruce Blames Tony For Pushing The A-Day Presentation, And Tony Knows It
It’s hard to summarise the relationship shown between the two characters, but it is a stand-out feature in Marvel’s Avengers. It doesn’t overshadow the other characters, though we do see more of them than the others.
The “All Is Lost” moment in Marvel’s Avengers is better than the “All Is Lost” moment in the MCU’s Avengers Assemble. We see Thor and Nat dismissive of the struggle between Tony and Bruce. They’ve moved on from the Avengers. Tony is guilt-ridden and trying to convince himself that the failings were out of his control. Bruce is angry that no one else seems to be taking responsibility, and he doesn’t think he can fix it. Kamala is caught in the middle.
It is an intense moment that is full of the emotions which are at the core of each of these characters. Then… Like a hopeful phoenix, Kamala rises from the ashes of a seemingly-final conversation between the Avengers to deliver a message of hope. Her determination, hope, desperation… It pulls on heartstrings; you feel everything she feels. She is heart-broken, and so are you.
Marvel’s Avengers is by far the best video game representation of Marvel’s most-famous characters. The issues the story tackles are relevant. Failure is a part of life and what matters is how you overcome it. The messages it sends are as important now as they were in the 1940s. At the end of the day, being different isn’t a bad thing. People deserve to be treated fairly.
Gameplay In Marvel’s Avengers, For The Most Part, Is Fluid And Action-Packed
Playing Marvel’s Avengers feels light, unlike Insomniac’s Spider-Man. While there is dodging and counters, combat is much-less reliant on them. There are only a few instances of grappling, and there is an odd absence of interactive combat between the player-character and the A.I. opponent. Essentially, it’s more of a hack-and-slash than a single-player RPG, but it isn’t trying to be a single-player RPG. For what Marvel’s Avengers is trying to be, it does it pretty well.
Each of the six launch heroes has a light attack, a heavy attack, and a ranged attack. Thor launches Mjolnir, pinning opponents. Kamala throws a fist out at an opponent with a massive knockback. Tony has Photon Cannons, Lasers, and Rockets… It’s all things you might have seen before in other media, but Marvel’s Avengers does it very well. Where the gameplay shines though is through it’s skill trees and gear systems.
Each hero has a detailed skill tree which you can use to cater to your playstyle. There are basic combos and additional moves early on, but the deeper customisation is the highlight. You can unlock a whole host of modifiers, some of which you can switch up when you reach the higher levels. For example, Kamala Khan’s High Five ability is… Well, a giant High Five. When upgrading, you can unlock skills that alter how it performs. If you’re going for damage, there’s a modifier which increases damage to a single target. Looking for crowd control? You can add an explosive burst to it that knocks opponents back!
They may seem like small alterations to Marvel’s Avengers moveset, but they add a much-needed depth to the gameplay and help to keep the gameplay from becoming stale.
That isn’t to say these are the only things that make Marvel’s Avengers fun to play…
Being a Marvel fan is what makes Marvel’s Avengers fun to play. There are games with better combat mechanics out there. There are titles with better movement and transportation mechanics. If you look into it purely on these merits, Marvel’s Avengers is average, at best. However, as a Marvel fan… It’s a must-play.
The quips each character makes, the unique abilities each one utilises in combat, the Joint Takedowns of larger enemies… All of them combine to make Marvel’s Avengers simply fun to play. You can charge your Unibeam to obliterate weaker opponents as Iron Man, play catch with an A.I.M. Keeper and your shield as Captain America, have Mjlonir pull you off. The ground! Pull you off the ground. Don’t worry. It isn’t that kind of game.
Obviously, there are some issues with the context that are limited by the media, but you tend to look past them. For example, in reality (in terms of the Marvel universe, anyway) the Hulk is almost invincible. The more damage he takes, the angrier he gets. The angrier he gets, the stronger he is. However, due to balancing and the fact that it’s a game… He can die. Shocking, I know. It’s a little annoying that he can, sometimes, feel as weak as he does, but that’s just due to the fact that it has to balance him as a hero. His strength, rather than in pure damage, is shown through AoE impacts and an Intrinsic Ability that increases his health regeneration.
Although it can be clunky, Marvel’s Avengers is fun to play and better-still if you’re a Marvel fan. It puts you in the shoes of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and lets you take the fight to the enemy in a way that suits you most.
The Graphics Are Mostly Stunning
Although the in-game conversation animations can be a little rough, the cutscenes all look fantastic in Marvel’s Avengers. The character models are all improved from their first appearances at E3 too, for those skeptical of them. There isn’t anything too special about the environmental graphics, but the character models in-game are pretty spectacular, too.
One thing that I want to highlight is that the hair physics in Marvel’s Avengers are fantastic. This, in my opinion, is something some games can lack on. The hair may act somewhat naturally, but it always seems to be out of the character’s face and is limited to “back of head” action. Not in Marvel’s Avengers. If Nat is doing a forward roll, you damn-well know she’s going to have her hair in her face. Sure, it isn’t the most picturesque, but it helps make each character seem more real.
In terms of textures and character models, Marvel’s Avengers gives fans a fantastic new look at their favourite heroes. They aren’t perfect, and they’re not trying to be. They look real and it perfectly compliments the real issues tackled by the game’s narrative.
However, It Struggles… A Lot
Sadly, as of writing, Marvel’s Avengers has A LOT of graphical and performance issues. There are near-continues frame-rate drops when getting into larger fights. There are a number of textures that don’t load properly, collectibles that don’t load at all… Before each cutscene, the screen goes black for a second while it loads up. It really is a shame that these issues seem to overshadow everything that is inherently good about Marvel’s Avengers.
I understand that I am reviewing this on a PlayStation 4, and there are more powerful machines out there, but you’d still expect a title to at least run smoothly. I understand the limitations to 1080p, 30FPS… But, Marvel’s Avengers performs well under this a lot of the time. It’s all patchable stuff, I hope, but there’s a lot that needs to be worked on, at least on the PlayStation 4 version of the game.
One example that I want to highlight may be small, but it feels like it perfectly sums up the issues faced by Marvel’s Avengers. When you get into an A.I.M. Elevator, there’s a holographic sign on the wall that states that “deadly force” has been authorised. It’s an intruder alert, of sorts. This, for the most part, is often illegible and blurred. It’s a minor detail, unimportant to the narrative in play, or the title’s gameplay. However, it is noticeable enough that it pulls you out of the enjoyable gameplay for a moment. You sit there and squint a little, before sighing and realising that this is just an issue you’ll have to deal with.
Small graphical issues and frame-rate drops plague this otherwise-exciting game. They make the whole thing feel unfinished and, you feel, a game of this stature and size should not be suffering like this.
Despite This, It’s Still A Must-Play For Marvel Fans
When you look past all the performance issues, the fixable things, Marvel’s Avengers is truly a fantastic experience for every Marvel fan. It’s a heart-wrenching story of hopeful inspiration and triumph against the odds complemented with fun and exciting gameplay. The cast of all-star voice actors brings the cast of all-star Marvel heroes and villains to life with excellent nuance and pure talent.