If there was one AAA game out of E3 2019 that I didn’t really care for in and out of the show, it was Marvel’s Avengers. Square Enix’s big reveal for the year didn’t really excite me. It also didn’t help that I was not able to attend my appointment to check it out, or that even if I did, I would’ve have had trouble, since at that exact point in time, the power went out across the entirety of the Los Angeles Convention Center that day. In any case, regardless of the outcome of my personal E3 experience, the new Avengers game came off pretty ho-hum to me.
I had the opportunity of playing Marvel’s Avengers last week at Brazil Game Show, and after having around ten minutes of hands-on with it, playing the same demo that was shown off behind closed doors at E3 and hands-on at Gamescom, I can safely say it’s coming along as nicely as any game that Crystal Dynamics has shown in the past. The Tomb Raider dev made the leap to the superhero side, and although Ms. Croft has managed to pull off some near super human moves in the past, nothing she has done comes close to the damage that the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Iron Man do during the demo.
San Francisco is the backdrop of the action that I played, as the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes help defend the Gold Gate Bridge from an attack by an army using some of Tony Stark-developed beam weapons that were supposed to be exclusive to S.H.I.E.L.D. The demo started off giving me control of Thor, but not before showing off some impressive looking cutscenes that was narrated by who we now know will be starring in the game herself, Kamala Khan, also known as Ms. Marvel, under the guise of a fan visiting the Avengers during the day of the attack.
Thor, similarly to the rest of the crew, controls in a similar way that Batman did in his own Arkham titles, that is, attacks connect into simple combos that allowed me to naturally switch from target to target, ultimately activating a special power after a certain number of hits. Thor in particular can wield his trusty Mjölnir, which give him the ability to aim, throw and retrieve his hammer at will, coming in handy when some debris along the way. Switching to Iron Man put me in flight mode, as he chased down some bad guys on jetpack, before getting knocked out of the air and being forced to fight on foot. Like Thor, Iron Man’s combat felt akin to Batman’s, with the benefit of having Stark’s particle beam weapons at the ready. Given that this is a comic book game, I can accept the fact that enemies don’t just turn into mush every time Iron Man fires a laser at them, nor when Hulk pummels them into the ground, but it’s still funny not to see it happen, for some reason.
Speaking of Hulk, his entrance was perhaps the most dramatic of the bunch, as seen in the trailer, Bruce Banner drops from the QuinJet directly into the bridge, transforming in mid fall into the Emerald Goliath. Hulk can hold his own in a brawl by simply smashing into fools, but by far the best attack for me was grabbing an enemy and using him as a weapon against his friends. Greenie’s trademark thunder clap just happens to be his special attack, and it came into use right away, as he got overwhelmed by a bunch of tiny men. Another very character specific ability, jumping really high and running around came into play as he dodged around and made his way through the crumbling bridge pieces from fight to fight. He could also do a sort of wall grab n’ go, which came suspiciously into play when crossing large gaps.
Afterwards came Captain America’s time to shine, perhaps the shortest of the sections in the demo, as we fought some enemies inside the hover carrier which was not made clear whether or not it was the Triskellion, S.H.I.E.L.D’s base of operations. Anyway, it was also taken over by whoever’s behind the attack, and Capt. Rogers was up to the task of fighting, using his shield as a ricochet in order to take everyone down via a pretty darn cool special attack. Perhaps out of the bunch, his combat style seemed the closest to Batman’s own, which makes sense given that both characters are very physical fighters. A long-ish scene later took me to the final section of the demo, where Ms. Natasha Romanov took over.
Black Widow’s fight just happened to be with the one leading the attack, none other than Taskmaster, a B-tier-ish antihero from the Marvel universe who has photographic memory and uses it to learn and adapt moves from every hero and villain, giving him an edge on just about everybody. The fight was carried out like a boss encounter, with a health bar on top of the screen, as Widow was forced to avoid his attacks as he flew around on a jetpack of his own, that is until the flight unit took enough damage and exploded, grounding him for good. At that point, we fought on foot, and it showed Black Widow’s quick movements through her ability to quickly whip right close to the enemy and gain the upper hand. Her special ability was to become invisible, which I used to finally give Taskmaster the final blow, trapping him under some rubble, leading to the end of the demo.
We’re left at a cliffhanger at the end of the demo, as the bomb that the Avengers were trying to prevent going off does indeed explode, wiping out part of San Francisco, sinking the carrier with Captain America apparently still in it, and leaving the heroes to be blamed for the massacre. The final game will apparently deal with the Avengers’ break-off and the aftermath of the events in this demo, which left me wanting more, even though the gameplay as a whole was pretty standard. In fact, at this point in time I’m way more excited to get a follow-up on the story beats, which seem to be on point with what was done in the comics in an arc or two sometime ago, if I’m not mistaken.
Everything else about the game seems okay. I’m still a little thrown off about the looks of the main cast, and them not matching the ones we all know and mostly love from the movies, but one can assume those would cost way too much to carry over to the game, hence the more generic faces we’re getting. Still, it would’ve been nice to have more recognizable features to the cast, who look like a bunch of no-name extras. Hoping this changes and I eventually get used to how they all look now. In terms of presentational quality, this game certainly looks AAA, thanks to a bunch of pretty well put together action scenes, which will probably be even bigger in the final version. The demo left me frankly curious to see how it all turns out, to say the least.
Marvel’s Avengers will be out on May 15th of next year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia.