Marvel's Avengers | game review
Some disassembly and major improvements when re-assembling required
Game summary: With all Super Heroes outlawed and the world in peril, a sprawling adventure ignites when a determined young woman named Kamala Khan sets out to reassemble and rebuild the Avengers to stop the unchecked power of the secretive new force known as AIM. (Xbox.com)
When Marvel's Avengers (which I'm just going to call Avengers from here) was announced, I was really looking forward to it as it seemed like an impossible-to-fail project, especially with the developers from the recent Tomb Raider games behind it. Then I saw what the characters looked like... and immediately thought I'd wait for reviews and reactions before thinking about getting it.
To say the responses were mediocre at best would be an incredibly generous interpretation, with most areas of the game coming in for criticism of some kind - especially the grindy endgame and 'games as a service' (GaaS) elements that were woven into the game's DNA. The biggest defence was for the campaign, although even then the highest praise I ever saw for it was that it was 'pretty good'.
With that ringing endorsement, I decided to wait until the price dropped significantly or patches/updates to the game improved things enough to make a purchase worthwhile, but the cost never dropped low enough to tempt me considering the reactions of people playing it remained lukewarm at best. Then Avengers was announced for Game Pass and I finally had my chance to give it a go...
How in the holy fuck do you screw up an Avengers game this badly? I don't know whether the GaaS elements were the choice of the developers, Crystal Dynamics, or forced on them but it utterly ruins the game, with pauses loading missions as you have to wait for other players to potentially join even when playing solo. It's like an infestation that should have been cut out long before the game was ever released.
Why is a system to get gear for the characters to make them more powerful - exactly what equipment is the Hulk going to wear into battle to make him a better fighter? What does Thor need beyond Mjolnir? Cap and his shield? Widow and her Stinger gauntlets? Iron Man is the only one this system seems to have any real relevance for and should've been kept as something unique for his character to set him apart from the rest.
Instead, you get a quasi-MMO gear system to go with a levelling up system (because 'Earth's mightiest heroes' apparently can't remember how to fight) that don't serve any purpose other than busywork. Oh, and quick disclaimer: I stopped after 3 hours under my 'Endgame Rule' because I really couldn't be bothered having to learn even more systems on top of that just to play a sodding campaign.
And I do have to say that the campaign is pretty crappy too, with the people who defended it having to be Marvel die-hards trying to find something good here. It's not helped by the fact that most of those first few hours aren't even spent playing as the titular team, but Kamala Khan instead. I do like Kamala in this game, but it doesn't change the fact that this isn't a Ms Marvel game - wasn't there any other way to tell this story?
The story isn't even interesting either, feeling more like a string of story beats designed to do nothing more than chain together combat encounters where you take on AIM and their seemingly-endless line of robots or powered armour-wearing operatives. There are other villains, like Abomination early on, who break things up a little, but the game does very little to make the majority of the combat feel interesting or meaningful.
It's not like the gameplay can redeem things either, feeling functional at best - there's nothing satisfying about the majority of your attacks or how they're depicted that'll make you enjoy the game any more (again, not helped by having to go through boring battle after boring battle to unlock better attacks). I wasn't a fan of the fighting in Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4, but even that is leagues beyond Avengers.
Hell, there are some who though the combat in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was tedious - which I don't truly agree with, but can at least see where they're coming from - and that's also far, far, far better than the garbage here. And that's a Marvel super-team like the Avengers! Just the thought of having Kamala take the Star-Lord role of player character and getting the other heroes to attack at your request again makes you wonder how Crystal Dynamics got things so wrong.
In case you can't tell, I really don't like Avengers and wish I hadn't wasted my time downloading it and playing it when there are so many other, better games - superhero and not - out there too. How the problems I've talked about were even considered as good ideas is beyond me, especially with one of the most popular franchises in the world, the MCU, to use as a reference point.
Marvel's Avengers is not a good game at all and you should only bother playing it if you're a real Marvel die-hard and have to try it. There's very little to praise here, as even the 'best' parts are barely above average - Kamala Khan's character shows some promise, but the game will most likely wear you down to the point of uninstalling it before you ever see it realised.