The first big-budget Avengers game hopes to do what the first Avengers movie did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Words by Andre Rodrigues ( @polygonpunk )
Developer: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Price: Rs. 3,999 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Rs 2,999 on PC
Over the years, comic book culture, which was one a niche relegated to nerds, has become the mainstream. With Avengers Infinity Wars and Endgame becoming some of the highest-grossing films and the highlights of the last decade, the popularity soared like never before. Now there's a new Avengers on the block, and it's not a movie, but a big-budget AAA game from the folks behind Tomb Raider. A game that is part single-player fan fest and the other part is a hot mess trying to be a service game like Destiny or Division. Either way, a chance to play as Iron Man, Hulk and the rest of the Avengers alone is worth the asking price of the game.
Well, you don't start off playing as the Avengers, not for long anyway. Instead, the game focuses on a little Kamala Khan who, accompanied by her father, attends A-Day, a giant Avengers-con to unveil their shiny new heli-carrier, the Chimera. Powered by a mysterious crystal known as Terrigen, it prompts a terrorist attack led by the Taskmaster. In the ensuing fight, the Avengers save the day, but at a terrible cost!
A deadly mist covers San Francisco, turning Kamala Khan and many others into dangerous superbeings known as Inhumans. Leading to the Avengers getting disbanded and a dystopian corporation with shadowy motives behind their noble exterior springs up in place. Five years since A-day, it's up to a grown-up Kamala Khan, fully in control of her powers, to find the Avengers and get them back together to face off against this new evil.
The single-player storyline is excellent, blending an engaging storyline with some great voice talent. Even though these well-known characters are not voiced by their movie counterparts, they are played to perfection by gaming's finest voice actors, celebrities in their own right. With Nolan North as Tony Stark and The Last of Us II's Joel and Abby, Troy Baker, as Bruce Banner and Laura Bailey as Black Widow. The MVP of the Avengers comes from the unlikeliest and likeliest of places, Kamala Khan, known as Ms Marvel. She's a whole lot of fun, from her sassy one-liners to her innocent wonder to her cheerful vibe that energises you and the jaded Avengers into action. She's also a fantastic fighter, and I daresay, I found fighting as her a lot better than playing as any of the Avengers. So much so she's my main.
Crystal Dynamics has always had a fascination for Uncharted's recipe of storytelling and it shows in both Tomb Raider, the reboot and in Avengers. While the mission structures originate from one hub, the Chimera, the missions are fairly linear with bigger levels peppered with objectives. The game is also a sort of beat-em-up, where you chain together combos and flashy jump moves to defeat the enemies. The last part is the Uncharted like traversal, that lets you use your hero’s traversal skills to negotiate large jumps and more.
Once the mission structures open up and you sort of unlocking all the Avengers one by one, you get to fight as or alongside them! Here you can choose to bring in a friend or match make to multiply. Beating up bad guys is a lot of fun, but very repetitive, as waves of enemies mindlessly come at you. If it wasn't for the storyline, it just gets unbearable after a point. Yet the narrative ties it together. Sometimes the levelling system makes your characters feel grossly underpowered. Dealing out pitiful damage especially when you're being mobbed by scores of robots and bad guys, and the game does tend to throw a lot at you.
The game continues after the Endgame where you get to play several missions, again and again, to grind for loot and level-ups, which is incredibly boring, as is the loot. It comprises of body armour for Iron Man and some weird bone replacements for the Hulk. A lot of this does not show on your character, and costumes have to be unlocked by playing the game and finishing objectives. There's a pretty cool bunch of costumes to unlock though, very much like Spiderman.
What does help buff up the multiplayer is the prospect of playing as the new soon to be released characters? If you own a PS4 then 2021 will get you Spiderman. Other than that there's a fairly generic looking Hawkeye and another female Hawkeye, Kate Bishop who seems to be a lot more fun to play. Here's hoping Black Panther makes it into the roster. Still, if Avengers has a hope of making it in the service space, they need to up their game. Especially when games like Anthem and Fallout 76 are still struggling.
At its core, Avengers is a generic beat-‘em-up. Yet what elevates it to one of the best games this year is a superb cast, excellent storyline and Kamala Khan. While it's got its shortcomings and is plagued by a lot of bugs, it's still a fun few hours. If you're an ardent fan of Avengers, then the grind fest of post-game missions is for you.