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“Puny Game”: Marvel’s Avengers Doesn’t Hit The Mark

Yes, the game is in beta. Yes, the game won’t be released for another couple of weeks. Yes, I should overlook the multiple crashes…the poor rendering…the laughable character faces.

But I just can’t overlook the fundamental problems worthy of heroic discussion.

I played the game for 115 minutes, long enough to get confused about the story and wonder just how many power-ups I’ve been missing because they blend into the environment. The game starts off with the Bvengers (they clearly don’t look like the Avengers) outright losing a fight because they were distracted by other events going on like a crumbling bridge and mysterious convoy. Meanwhile, this enormous helicarrier that shouldn’t fly is up in the air doing…something…to the ocean outside of San Francisco.

 

They can use the actor’s likenesses for Ziploc commercials, but not the official game? Image courtesy of my beta gameplay.

 

Confused? So was I.

You bounce from character to character, playing first as Thor, then Iron Man, then Hulk, and Captain America before finishing the tutorial as Black Widow. Let’s chat about the POSITIVES first.

  1. The environment is spectacularly done. Flames, crumbling streets, collapsing buildings, shattered glass, it’s fantastic.
  2. There is a LARGE variety of attacks to choose from. Light attack, heavy attack, air attack, ranged attack, super-awesome-incredible-attack, it’s more than a button-masher. Oh, and those super attacks are glorious.
  3. If you can get used to the control crazy sensitivity the game can be fun…when it’s not lying to you or going against it’s own rules.

However, the tutorial alone is enough to confuse and frustrate gamers. The cinematic blends so well into the actual gameplay that I died twice from a bridge falling out from under me because I wasn’t sure when to start playing. I thought the cinematic was still going until I dropped down like Wile E. Coyote.

The attacks from Iron Man’s beams and Black Widow’s guns require extreme accuracy on your part. There is a BRIEF tooltip that appears trying to tell me something about a lock system, but it came during a boss battle so I wasn’t in the mood to take my eyes off of the snarling “Taskmaster” as he swung a glowing sword at my face. The fight against him was longer than it should have been. He’s tough, fast, aggressive, and blocks nearly every shot or punch I tried to land. By the time I fired off a few rounds from her pistols, he had flown elsewhere, leaving me to play catch-up while reloading.

 

Yeah….the game isn’t quite finished yet. Image courtesy of my beta gameplay.

 

After your programmed failure, the scene shifts five years into the future. You’re now Bruce Banner and walking with…some girl…through a jungle to find…something…Tony Stark left behind. Why are we looking? What is it we need? Why is it here? Who is this girl? How did you meet? Why does she need the Hulk? None of these questions get answers. You just smash things.

The game mechanics are tricky at best, and inconsistent at worst. While wandering through a jungle, the Hulk can climb onto flat, scratched, surfaces and jump off of them. Well in the jungle, just about everything looks flat and scratched up so I just leapt around and around trying to find the one patch of wall I needed. Later, inside a secret base, you run into a dead-end only to find out (through sheer guesswork) that you’re supposed to climb the flat, non-scratched, walls…but only CERTAIN flat, non-scratched, walls will work.

Remember how much I loved that environment? Well as the Hulk you can smash pretty much anything you want. Some things will blow up and damage you, some things will drop glowing…things…and reward you. Naturally you want to be careful what you’re smashing, but this means you’ll pass by rewards because you’re just not sure what to smash and what to leave. What’s worse is that some things you can smash, but only if you use a “special” or “heavy” attack instead of just the standard attack.

Finally, as the Hulk you expect to mow down pretty much what’s in your way, right? Well if you’re charging up a special attack and get tapped by a droid no bigger than an Ewok? You’re interrupted and have to start charging up again. Now imagine five or seven of those little ankle-biters coming at you.

 

Can you guess what to smash and what not to smash? The answer is…only the glowy stuff IF you use a heavy attack. I passed up too many rewards because I thought they could not be smashed. Those crates directly in front of me? Nope, can’t smash those. Image courtesy of my beta gameplay.

 

However, should you encounter a droid capable of a heavy attack of their own? You can’t interrupt them…at all. You just sit there and get wailed upon no matter what you try. Yup, the Incredible Hulk is brought to his knees, sometimes by enemies I can barely see somewhere far in the distance. By the time I close the distance, I’m toast.

All in all, the developers promise to fix some of the issues and this is why we have a beta at all. Problems get exposed, and designers get paid far more than you or I to correct them before it goes mainstream in September. For my review, I can’t recommend shelling out $60 for this game based on fundamental issues. Wait for it to go on sale.

Sadly, this comes on the heels of DC absolutely rocking their “FanDome” event with new game trailers being released to the delight of fans across cyberspace. Has the tide turned in the rivalry between DC and Marvel?

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