December 5, 2020
Iron Man and Black Widow stand in a forest at dusk.

Marvel’s Avengers Review- a Landmark Superhero Video Game

I’ve been waiting for this game for over two years. Back in Early 2018, riding on the coattails of the soon to be released Marvel’s Spider-Man, another new Marvel video game was teased. 

The teaser featured a shot of Captain America’s shield and the simple words “Reassemble.” This teaser would be left untouched for over a year. In that span of time, Marvel Studios would go on to release both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” capping off their 10-year cinematic story and transition to what I would call the “new Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

Captain America's shield- battle scarred.
Marvel’s Avengers was teased all the way back in 2018. During the time between the first teaser and the reveal of the game, two Avengers movies were released (both unconnected to the game). (Image- cosmic book news)

Marvel’s Avengers (the game this time) would be revealed shortly after E3 2019, and it would eventually go on to finally release in September 2020. 

To put it plainly, I waited with anticipation for this game for a long time. So what did I think of the game? Well, let’s get right into it with the story.

The Story: Kamala Khan shines bright amid star-studded cast 

Many people, including myself, were first exposed to The Avengers via their movie portrayals.

For me, Robert Downey Jr. will always be Iron Man, and Chris Evans will always be Captain America. So when I started this game and walked around the opening sequence as Kamala Khan, I was a little surprised. This is, after all, an Avengers game. Where was Thor? Or Hulk? Or Black Widow?

As the story went on and The Avengers were disbanded, you were left with Kamala. 

Kamala is a Muslim Pakistani-American teenager from New Jersey who finds herself with brand new superpowers following the events of A-Day, an event in which a super-charged Terrigen bomb activates the dormant powers in all of the InHumans. 

When we pick up with Kamala in Act I, the Avengers are disbanded and people with superpowers are outlawed. 

Throughout the story, Kamala’s can-do attitude and endless optimism lead her to helping the Avengers reassemble, and the eventual defeat of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) lead scientist-turned-supervillain, George Tarleton (otherwise known as M.O.D.OK.). 

The final sequence of this game’s story made me actually feel like I was in the middle of one of the “Avengers” movies set-pieces, which is an amazing feeling to say the least. These jaw-dropping moments had me jumping out of my couch and pumping my fist in the air; a true treat.

This game has made me fall in love with the Kamala Khan character overall. I love the fact that Pakistani-Americans are getting representation in mainstream media here. She doesn’t fall into a cultural stereotype and instead shines as a unique individual who also is proud of her cultural roots. Cheers to this, Marvel.

The Gameplay

This game has so much depth and replayability. Each character plays different but there are underlying game systems that tie them all together. Each character has a primary attack, secondary attack, and few special abilities. In addition, they all have a special traversal technique, be it Iron Man and Thor’s flying, to Black Widow’s grapple hook, all feel great and each level accommodates them all.

Iron Man and Black Widow stand in a forest at dusk.
My two favorite charcters to play as have been Iron Man and Black Widow. Iron Man lets me pay homage to RDJ’s rendition of the character and Black Widow is addictively fun to play as. (Image- provided by author via PS4 Share)

Each hero has his/her own learning curve and admittedly takes some time to master. 

For me, I’ve played around a little bit with each of the heroes, but have definitively landed on Black Widow as my main. Her quick dodges, easy takedowns, grappling hook and uber-powerful ultimate ability makes her one of the most powerful characters in the game. 

I am still learning the other heroes as I grind out levels and master HARM challenge rooms, but the journey so far has been full of fun, addictive gameplay.

At times the combat feels a little repetitive with the button spamming of certain moves, or shooting at enemies from a distance. Fortunately, the variety of enemy types, heroes to choose from, and abilities to unlock keeps things fun and fresh.

Multiplayer

Playing with friends is the definitive way to experience “Marvel’s Avengers.” I have only done it a few times, but it often puts you at an advantage during the tougher missions as you all can team up to target one enemy at a time. 

I have spent more time playing solo, though, and honestly the experience is not that bad with computer teammates. The game’s various wide-open levels are updated regularly with new missions. There is also an endgame mode where there are a ton of side quests to do and secrets to unlock, all offering the player more insight into the lore of Marvel’s Avengers. 

I am super excited to see how the game continues and how this expanded story unfolds, especially as new heroes and villains are added into the mix.

Other Thoughts

This game looks great. The richness of the graphics make it feel like you are watching one of the movies. The enemies look equally as impressive, especially the bosses like Taskmaster and Abomination. 

Thor stands looking out into a snowy tundra.
Thor has his own side chain of missions that unlocks after he enters the main story. The quest involves a familiar Thor foe and takes place in the expansive Snowy Tundra region. (Image- provided by author via PS4 Share)

The one downside to this is the open levels. 

Some of them, such as the Utah Badlands, the Snowy Tundra, and the Pacific Northwest, look great. The one I take issue with is Manhattan. If this game launched in say, 2017, I probably would have no issues with this Manhattan whatsoever. 

But here is the thing, Insomniac Games set a new bar for realism and virtual beauty when they blessed us with the open world of Marvel’s Spider-Man. The city streets, photorealistic skyscrapers, and vibrant NPCs featured in the Spider-Man rendition of Marvel’s New York makes the Avengers’ version of Manhattan seem like a shell of the full city, with seemingly only a few blocks shown in-game.

That brings me to my next point. When this game was first announced and I geeked out about it, I speculated about the potential existence of a wider Marvel gamerverse. Think Marvel’s Cinematic Universe but in video game form. 

That would mean that if all worked according to my theory, the events of A-Day would spill over to the upcoming “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” and defeated villains from this game, such as Abomination, would be sent away to New York to be kept in The Raft with Rhino, Vulture, Dr. Otto Octavius, and the other villains that Peter Parker took care of during “Marvel’s Spider-Man.” 

Unfortunately, none of this is true, as it seems that Marvel is having Spider-Man and The Avengers exist in separate in-game universes. In fact, Marvel’s Avengers is getting its own version of Spider-Man

Although it probably won’t happen, the continuity nerd in me wants to see these two universes joined and a greater Marvel gamerverse come to fruition.

Conclusion: A landmark piece in the Golden Era of Superhero Games

In the past five years, we have seen a lot of great superhero games. 

From the continuation of the Batman Arkham series, to the graphically impressive InFamous: Second Son. Now there is an Avengers game worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with its movie counterpart, we are absolutely in an unmatched era of superhero gaming.

Black Widow stares out into a burning forest countryside.
Black Widow has been my go-to main superhero in the post-campaign grind. She has a ton of unique abilities and is very agile, making her a hard target to pin down. (Image- provided by author via PS4 Share)

“Marvel’s Avengers” aims to take on the games as a service model that many games are moving to now, and features a core experience reminiscent of “Destiny,” but with influences of a ton of other action and superhero games. 

Overall, the game is off to a solid start, but what I’m most excited for is to see how the game evolves over time. Time to assemble some friends, strap in, and enjoy the journey ahead.

  • Zach Ferenchak is a current Senior studying Emerging Media with an emphasis in PR. Along with serving as managing editor for The Chimes, Zach is heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, where he serves as the organization's incoming National Vice President of Brand Engagement. He is an avid communicator who hopes to one day elevate brands and causes through effective storytelling.

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