Main Voice Cast: Sandra Saad, Nolan North, Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Jeff Schine, Darin De Paul, Danny Jacobs, Jolene Andersen, and Usman Ally
Publisher: Square Enix
Developers: Crystal Dynamics, Crystal Northwest, and Eidos Montreal
Composer: Bobby Tahouri
Programmers: Scott Kortz and James Loe
Designers: Magali Stretton and Alisha Thayer
Artists: Brenoch Adams and Josh Bapst
Writers: Shaun Escayg, John Stafford, Marek Walton, Hannah MacLeod, Nicole Martinez, and Keano Raubun
Directors: Shaun Escayg and Morgan W. Gray
HUGE thanks to the teams at Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics for giving us the opportunity to play and review this game!
The Avengers were once known as the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, beloved by millions across the world. However, Avengers Day, a celebration that was supposed to revere the heroes and reveal a new clean energy source known as Terrigen, became catastrophic, killing thousands, destroying San Francisco, and creating new superpowers beings known as Inhumans. With Captain America’s apparent death, and with pressure from the media mounting, the Avengers disbanded, exiled under the shame of what became known as A-Day. In their absence, George Tarleton establishes AIM, a seemingly beneficial overreaching science corporation, with a hidden secret agenda involving the imprisonment and torture of Inhumans. This is discovered by Kamala Khan, a teenage Avengers fangirl, as well as an Inhuman who was affected by A-Day. When she finds herself on the run, Khamala realizes that the only way to stop AIM and save the Inhumans is to bring the Avengers back together and reassemble. Can the heroes overcome their failings and unite once again? And what exactly happened with Captain America on A-Day?
It’s incredibly strange knowing that this game quickly became one of the most controversial out there in recent memory. I remember over three and a half years ago when the first trailer for it was shown, and then not hearing a peep about it for two and a half years until E3 last year. I remember how some people loved the trailer and gameplay, others loathed it all, and others were just indifferent. It was unbelievably strange, as I thought that it all looked fine and fun. It’s definitely been a rocky road leading to hear, with the delays and the prior silence and the incredibly mixed reactions to everything. But now we finally have the game in our hands, and after beating the campaign and playing a few War Zones and character mission chains, I’ve gotta say that I’m thoroughly impressed. While far from perfect, this game is a stellar starting point for what could become a phenomenal franchise, and honestly, it’s just plain fun.
The campaign, as many others have said, is without a doubt the best part of the game. While the first glimpse of it at E3 last year did make it feel very derivative, with the Avengers disbanding after a massive tragedy and rebounding after five years (similar to the massive Endgame from last year), the whole story feels unique and different enough than others we’ve seen. There’s very clear inspiration from the movies, sure, but there’s even more inspiration from the comics, as well, along with their own unique flavor of a rebellion story. It carries shades of other stories told on film and in comics, but comes entirely into its own to create something truly special and video game-y (and I mean that in a good way). Also, there’s several playable action sequences that are downright jaw-dropping at times, and create a huge sense of scale and awe. You can definitely see the inspiration from other big-budget narrative driven games such as the Uncharted franchise, and these playable set pieces are definitely enormous highlights to the campaign. Also, while I’ll elaborate on this stuff later, the side and multiplayer missions are definitely more story-based than you’d initially think, and I honestly can’t wait for the new heroes that’ll be added over the coming months in terms of finding out where we go from here after the ending, especially Spider-Man. All in all, I think this game is worth the look for the story alone.
We gotta talk characters, and who better to start off with than the magnificent Ms. Marvel herself, Kamala Khan? Right off the bat, she is the absolute best character in the game, and Sandra Saad delivers an amazingly heartfelt and geeky performance as the fangirl-turned-superhero. Making her the protagonist of the game was an insanely fresh and unique choice, and she bounces off all the main Avengers very well. It’s one of those performances that you see and makes you feel the urge to pick up the character’s comics and read through each and every one of them, which to be honest, I probably just might do as soon as I finish writing this. Kamala has quickly become an iconic hero for a new generation of readers and fans, and her boost in popularity is beyond exciting. I definitely look forward to seeing what new heights the character is taken to next. As for the rest of the Avengers, I really liked them, and appreciated their similarities and differences to their movie and comic counterparts. Nolan North does a really good job as Tony Stark, and honestly I appreciate so much that while he is similar, they didn’t make his Tony a replica of RDJ’s Tony. Natasha and Thor, while they don’t have massive roles in the story, are very well-written and voice acted as well. I have to say my two favorites of the group, along with Kamala, are probably Bruce, played by Troy Baker, and Cap, played by Jeff Schine. Bruce is very clearly inspired by Ruffalo’s take from the first Avengers movie, always neurotic and uncomfortable in his own skin, but Baker adds this sense of weariness, shame, and a surprising amount of vulnerability that makes his Bruce a great counterbalance to Tony and Kamala. I can’t comment on Schine’s Cap much without spoiling, but ll I’ll say is that he’s one of my favorite iterations of the character.
Now onto the gameplay, and boy is there a lot to unpack. This game is incredibly massive in terms of combat, exploration, leveling up, and so on, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Sticking to the main combat gameplay though, it’s way deeper than you’d initially think, and every character, even with similar mechanics, plays differently. Iron Man is more for air support and big guns, Hulk is more for straight-up smashing, Ms. Marvel is more for mobility and area effectiveness, Cap is more for hand-to-hand and acrobatics, and so on. Each character has several skill trees, upgrading their combat, effectiveness, and heroic ultimates, and while it can seem incredibly daunting, the main campaign doesn’t require you to unlock every skill. It helps you decide which way you wanna play, and lets there be variety not just between characters, but players, as well. I definitely have to say my two favorites to play as are Ms. Marvel and Captain America, as their fighting styles and methods of traversal are so much fun to control. It definitely makes me excited to see how future heroes will play, including Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and more if the rumors are true. However, other characters such as Iron Man and Hulk feel really unbalanced, feeling too weak in terms of damage they deal and take. Maybe they didn’t want them to feel overpowered, but if so, they went a bit too far in terms of correcting. While a lot of it does boil down to button mashing, the game does require you to think on your feet and use your resources and heroics wisely, as well as working with your teammates. Some may like it, others may not, but I think it definitely works for the game, and again, I can’t wait to see what’s done with the additional heroes that will be added.
As many have said, however, this game is fundamentally flawed, but not unfixable. On the surface, the graphics have lots of bugs and rendering issues, very similar to Jedi: Fallen Order from last year. Textures won’t load correctly at times, even during cutscenes, and the frame rate can get insanely bad and jittery at times. When the graphics are working correctly, they look fine, but as others pointed out, they aren’t as up to snuff as others from this year, especially with games such as The Last of Us Part II out there. However, they are by no means bad, and can look really good at times. The RPG elements of the game are probably the worst case I’ve seen of them being tacked on and way too overzealous, very similar to 2018’s God of War. There’s way too many currency options for upgrading gear pieces you find, and you end up not really caring about any of it since it’s hard to tell if the gear you have is even doing anything. And, of course, the insane amount of micro-transactions for costumes and other cosmetics is just absolutely ridiculous. Of course, there’s a way you can earn credits to get said costumes, as doing daily and weekly challenge cards for your characters will up their levels and earn you credits, nameplates, costumes, and more, but they offer nowhere near as much as paying for them do, and the prices are outrageous. Honestly, I can definitely see this changing soon, as Battlefront II had a similar, probably way worse problem, which was amended after people made enough noise. While it’s good that none of the DLC that matters, such as new characters and new story content, isn’t hidden behind a paywall, but regardless, nothing should be hidden behind a paywall. Hopefully sooner than later it’ll change for the better, whether it be in this game or the inevitable sequel.
Overall, Marvel’s Avengers is a game with many, many flaws that should have been fixed prior to release, but in my opinion, it’s still a good game. While there’s many glitches, frame rate issues, and other ehh things such as the music being serviceable but not memorable, the game undeniably has the heart and soul of the Marvel universe dwelling within it, and the campaign and characters show them beautifully. As I’ve said multiple times, I’m very excited for the character and story-based content coming in the future with all the free heroes, and I’m really interested to see where this universe goes forward from here. Will we get a free-roaming Ms. Marvel solo game? A linear Captain America war game? Who knows what the future holds? All I can say is that this version of the Avengers is here, and if the cards are played right and things are improved upon, they might become the next big franchise in video games. All we have to do is wait and see. But for now, I highly recommend this game, whether it be at full price or on sale, and I’m excited to see where these characters go from here.