A-Day was supposed to be a time of celebration, a grand extravaganza honouring The Avengers while also introducing a new power source: Terrigen. For one loyal fan, Kamala Khan, it was meant to be the greatest day of her life, but it became one of the worst, because wouldn’t you know it, true believers, them pesky bad guys are out to break a young girls heart – and the Avengers while they’re at it. Long story short, catastrophe! For which the Avengers take the fall and thus begins the origin story for a superhero we didn’t know we needed.
Fast-forward some five years and the A-Day incident has given rise to the Inhumans – who are treated like a disease – and A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), a scientific corporation that’s a superpower unto itself. Before long Ms. Marvel is on A.I.M.’s hit list, and she takes to the road, searching for the resistance and any way to prove that the Avengers were framed. Along the way she meets Bruce Banner and the two set out together on an epic road trip to bring the band back together for that all-important make it or break it gig.
Despite bearing the Avenger’s title, this is very much Kamala’s show. Well, hers and Bruce’s. Her enthusiasm and drive, coupled with the mentor/mentee relationship between her and Banner, are very much at the heart of Marvel’s Avengers. There is some stellar voice work and writing in the games single-player campaign as developers Crystal Dynamics have opted for a far more introspective tale than one would have suspected. To be sure there are the usual bombastic moments of power-slinging glory, but the story truly shines when it’s dealing with the heart to heart moments between its characters and the sacrifices that lay at the core of heroism.
This isn’t the Avengers you know from the MCU. Instead, Crystal Dynamics has chosen to use the source material as inspiration for their own take on these iconic characters. There’s a sense of grounded realism to the characters, their looks – which has been made fun of – making them feel like real people rather than unnaturally gorgeous stars. There’s a definite sense of love for the source material that shines through in the campaign, so much so that Crystal Dynamics managed to even bring in one of Captain America’s greatest speeches from the Civil War comics and employ it more effectively than the MCU’s butchered Civil War version of it.
It’s all brought to life with a stellar voice cast, though Troy Baker steals the show with his low-key, soft spoken version of Banner, framing him as a man coming to terms with his failings while still containing that smouldering rage just beneath.
Initially, even after playing the demo and liking what I saw, I was still concerned with how the final product would turn out. You see, Avengers is two games hyrbidised together into what should have been a Frankenstein monster of different parts just barely creating a whole. There’s the single player campaign and then there’s the live-service Destiny-style multiplayer side. The problem been that the two different play styles overlap significantly.
About five hours into the campaign you’ll get access to the War Table, which is where the bulk of the single player and multiplayer missions are accessed from. Quite a few of the SP missions then proceed to play out in the same design style as the MP ones which is, initially, tonally jarring before heading back into the SP design style for what amounts to the last third of the campaign.
The SP campaign has elements of exploration, stealth, platforming and a socking heapload of combat. It’s a joy to say that the games fighting system is robust and allows for a significant amount of tactical play and customization as you level up each Avenger and unlock new moves. If you were solely to judge the combat on the A-Day opening, you’d be in for a big surprise. While most of the characters fit a template, such as Hulk been the aggro drawing tank, their move sets and play style can be tinkered with to turn Iron Man, for example, into a rocket spewing sniper. Best of all, the combat is extraordinarily fun and exciting and the thrill of a coordinated beatdown between Avengers never gets old. Whether you’re playing the campaign or the MP, mastering the combat system, especially dodges and counters, is key to survival. Button mashing will only take you so far.
The MP missions were a mixed bag for me initially. The level design is simple, alternating between large outdoor areas or internal A.I.M. locations, which all look exactly the same. I get that corporations, especially the evil ones, prefer a homogenized look to kill your individuality, but some visual difference between internal locations would have gone a long way. Objective wise, you’ll be looking for gear chests and people that need to be rescued while holding areas as you get swarmed. The point holding objectives never become fun. Sometimes it’s just a one location affair while others take you to three or four. These MP missions never get complex which actually became a boon as I looked to level up more while just enjoying the combat.
You can play the MP missions with friends, randoms or the A.I., which is fairly decent. Unfortunately the matchmaking system still needs work. I only managed to get a couple of missions with other players – as no one I knew was playing it – and had to wait through long search times before something came together. Eventually I just went solo with A.I. who do a decent enough job of picking you up when you get KO’d but don’t hold objective points.
The endgame does include some more story bits along with an increasing set of challenges and War Zone mission difficulties. Some characters who were short-changed in the campaign, such as Thor, have decent after game mini-stories.
Gear in the game can also be levelled up as well, but it’s a pointless system as the loot drops are so frequent that you will literally pick up a better piece of gear twenty seconds after equipping the one you just picked up. For some reason there is also a faction system which leads into the gear vendors. Factions have their own “challenges” which net you experience and resources. Earn enough XP and you level up the vendor which nets you resources and higher level gear to buy. Yet thanks to the loot drops, I never needed to buy anything from the vendors or upgrade my gear at all, which made all the resources – of which there are too many different types – redundant.
Most of the time Avengers is a good looking game until there’s too much happening onscreen and the dynamic resolution system kicks in. It’s not uncommon in MP for the resolution to take a dip and serious slowdown to hit.
Now to the actual bad. Avenger’s cosmetic micro-transaction system is nothing short of insidious. There are two types of currency; Units and Credits. Units can be earned in-game from chests or normal play. Credits are the premium currency that you can spend real world money on, though they can also be earned in-game through Challenge Cards.
Cosmetic vendors operate on Units, which you earn at an incredibly slow pace. After about two dozen hours of play, I have enough to buy one costume. One. Costume.
Each character has a Challenge Card that you earn points on through challenges to unlock more cosmetic items like outfits, emotes and takedowns. Each item can also be bought with Credits. Each character Challenge Card unlocks about 1100 Credits. But the rate at which you earn points for the card itself is also excrutiatingly slow. By the time of this review, I think I’ve unlocked about 7% of each characters Card. It’s a system designed to frustrate you into spending money.
Of course, you can choose to ignore the system, but we all know part of the appeal of superhero games are the different costume variations. The only bright spark to this and the games gear system is that the upgrades and buffs aren’t tied to the costumes, thus removing a pay to win situation. Because I chose to ignore the system, I also didn’t notice when I did unlock costumes that were tied to the challenge cards or character levels. Some of the costumes are better than others and there are also specific tie-in deals that the game has going for it, such as Virgin Media’s swanky tie-in costumes which you can see in the screenshots.
Virgin Media customers can get hold of these costumes at the following link: https://www.virginmedia.com/virgin-tv-edit/tips-and-tricks/exclusive-marvels-avengers-outfits
I can honestly say I was worried about how Marvel’s Avengers would turn out. But a fantastic campaign coupled with a great fighting system has kept me playing long after I thought I would. When I finished the campaign I immediately wanted a sequel, along with each hero getting their own spin-off game. The simplicity of the MP missions has turned out to be an infectious boon, though I do see the mileage on this varying until the post launch heroes are added. I’ve loved every minute of this game far more than I thought I would and after more than two dozen hours of play, still do.
Marvels Avengers was written by Adam Ligocki
You can purchase this version of the game here on the PSN Store for £59.99 up to £74.99 based on the version you want.
Marvels Avengers is also on PC and Xbox One
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Marvel’s Avengers is an epic, third-person, action-adventure game that combines an original, cinematic story with single-player and co-operative gameplay*. Marvel’s Avengers will be available on September 4th, 2020 for PlayStation 4, plus PlayStation 5 owners can upgrade to the PS5 version of the game at no additional cost. Players can also enjoy cross-gen play between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5**.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 59.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut