Disclaimer: When I was invited to try the Avengers Beta Demo three weeks ago, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so there may be some specific information that I can not reveal.
I’m a Playstation guy. Always have been, since the original PS launched all those years ago. I’m also a RPG guy. Since I got a copy of the original Dragon Warrior (now Dragon Quest) free with my subscription to Nintendo Power waaaay back in the day. I’ll typically enjoy most RPG’s unless the controls are garbage or the story is just terrible.
Thankfully, the good folks over at Square Enix have been making quality games for at least as long as I have been playing them. Pair them up with Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal (the teams behind the stellar Tomb Raider series) and their final product should be nothing short of spectacular. Especially when you have a large, rich history of the Marvel Universe to draw from.
When I downloaded and installed the Marvel’s Avengers Beta to my PS4 (it’s a large file, ~30GB, not as large as many of the games as of late (Looking at you Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and The Last of Us 2)) My excitement to play continued to grow. I had been following the development of the game for a while and it sounded like they had all the right teams behind its development. I had recently upgraded my family’s household ISP to a gigabit speed connection, so downloading and installing took maybe an hour, probably not even that long (modern Internet speeds still blow me away, I started out on 28.8 kb/s back in the dark ages).
Anyhoo, install complete, updates installed (yes, day 1 of the BETA test there was already an update patch, haha) PS4 controller charged, headset on, all ready to go. Cue up the game, and it doesn’t start. Well, that’s not quite correct. It starts, you get to the launch menu, press X to start the game, only to find that the servers at Crystal Dynamics are not online for beta play yet. I got my code on Tuesday, however, the beta OFFICIALLY did not start until Friday. *sigh*
Three days later, hey! Look at that! I can actually get past the opening menu! Woohoo!
First off, the opening screens are beautifully designed. You feel like you are looking at a SHIELD interface straight out of the Marvel cinematic and television universe. Kind of makes you feel like you may be a SHIELD Agent. You go through the normal modern gaming set-up screens, brightness calibration, difficulty level, etc… Then the game launches.
When the story opens up, generally you expect to be given a slightly easier maybe one character story to get you through the tutorial and learn the controls. Not on Marvel Avengers. No way! You are thrown right into the action! The Golden Gate Bridge is under attack and you must do everything in the Avengers team’s powers to save all the civilians and to save the bridge from collapse before it all goes to hell in the harbor!
You get the chance to play as several of the fan favorite Avengers in this opening episode. Starting out with the God of Lightning and Thunder himself, Thor. (I should mention that Marvel’s Avengers is an action Role Playing Game, not a turn based adventure) Thor gets to whack and smash and swing his mighty hammer Mjolnir to knock out baddies left and right. There is a targeting system (that is difficult to get the hang of, directions come flying at you quick and non-stop, so trying to catch all the information can be a challenge in itself), but the fact that you can target and send Thor’s hammer flying to knock the snot out of a bad guy is oddly satisfying.
As Thor is clearing the bridge, Iron Man takes to the skys to fly in to take out some of the airborne enemies. I found Iron Man the most difficult to control while flying, but, just like in the movies, he has the coolest toys! Rocket boots, hand blasters, JARVIS built in (this is set pre-FRIDAY), his gameplay is really immersive.
Not to be outdone by his fellow teammates, the strongest one there is SMASHES his way onto the scene. Hulk is a blast to control! There’s so many things you can do with him! From the standard punches and rage smashes, to hurling cars, tossing chunks of pavement (again with the targeting system), and some other surprise fighting moves you’ll have to see to believe, Hulk is, by far, one of the most fun characters to play as. Shockingly, Hulk is also the character that teaches you about hanging and jumping from wall (or sideways cars) to clear otherwise unjumpable distances. This is definitely handy as the Golden Gate Bridge is not holding up all that well.
Our final hero that we get to play as in the opening stage is Black Widow. Black Widow is more of a Lara Croft-esque style combatant. Running and incredible acrobatic feats while gunning with energy blasters, all while taking on the main baddie for the level (sorry, not going to tell you who that is, but those of you savvy enough to YouTube it can easily find out). Widow’s controls take a bit of getting used to after running and flying as huge beefy fighters like Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk, but she is fun to play as. You learn some stealthy dodge techniques, some tricky jumps, a little more finesse in your combat than just “HULK SMASH”.
Wrapping up the first level lets you dive into another. Not much is given, but you have to guide Hulk and Ms. Marvel (not Carol Danvers, but the newer Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, extra stretchy). This second level I played through some of it, but did not finish it before the closed beta weekend was finished. You, again, control Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, and kid of play follow the leader with Ms. Marvel. You’re led through the jungle searching for an A.I.M. base.
This level is also where you learn about secret item stashes hidden behind walls, boxes, etc. These contain both useful items to help you level up as well as the hidden bonus items such as classic comics and art panels, which, I’m sure, based on reports from around the interwebs, will unlock the numerous hidden playable characters.
Overall, Marvel’s Avengers by Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics is a fun, action packed, slightly difficult to control sometimes (awkward camera sticks like all games, though this was just a beta, so maybe some things will be addressed in a patch for the September 1 release). If you are a Playstation loyalist like me, you’ll be able to see a comparison to the old PS2 “X-men Legends” games (which I loved and played probably hundreds of hours between the two).
I’m anxiously awaiting the game’s official launch, and to see how the multiplayer team-up works (possibly with my fellow Ghosts here, Chad and NotBAMF). Yes, there are some flaws, and I’m sure many players will consider the main storyline a bit straightforward in today’s more “open world” gaming environment. For classic role playing game players, like me, this fits right into my comfort zone.
I give it an 8/10.
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