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Making superhero games is no easy feat. Good ones are hard to come by- a well-known fact. So far, only Rocksteady and Insomniac Games have overcome this Herculean task by making masterpieces like The Arkham Series and Marvel’s Spiderman, inspiring generations to come. With Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are aiming for the same. Is it shaping up to be a hit or a miss? How does it fare against its critically-acclaimed brethren? Let’s find out.

Playing as The Avengers

The Beta’s 30 minutes long prologue is nothing short of a visual spectacle, it delivers upon everything we hoped to see all these years. It is the same demo showcase that was shown at 2019’s San Diego Comic-Con. The opening battle sequence starts with Thor. Playing as Thor feels like playing as Kratos all over again. The combat feels weighty and hammer-spins are spectacular with thunderous visual effects. Playing as Thor is a blast- it’s a shame I didn’t get see more of him in the later missions. The only thing that feels out of place is Thor’s hammer recall. It would be great if they go with R2 instead of L2 while recalling the mighty Mjolnir.

Wish it was you R2

Next up, playing as Iron-Man feels a bit like Superman and he’s also a little bit awkward to control. Whether its firing beams or hovering in the air, there’s a bit of jankiness involved. But I don’t think I can pinpoint the blame on the devs for this- any developer would crap their pants if they’re asked to make a game on a hero that flies as superman does.

Playing as Hulk is by far the most enjoyable aspect of the game. While Hulk is the least agile of all, his strength makes up for more that. Mashing things, throwing debris, and clinging to walls, it all feels good – thanks to the smooth animations. Hulk’s boss battle with Abomination is heavily cinematic and enjoyable as well.

Natasha taking on Taskmaster

Contrary to Hulk, Black Window feels a lot more agile and her movement is quite reminiscent of Lara Croft – thanks to all those years put into Tomb Raider reboot. She’s good at doing timed dodges and relies on melee and ranged attacks. Even though her boss battle with Taskmaster is scripted and linear for the most part, it sure is a visual treat.

Hulk vs Abomination Boss Battle- Captured in Photographer Mode

The newest addition to the Avengers, Kamala Khan remains the prime focus of the game. She’s a formidable fighter – thanks to her stretchy arms and legs. Nothing is out of reach if you are in the shoes of Kamala. A bit too similar to the web-slinger if you ask us.

Last up is the Cap Am himself. Steve Rogers shares the characteristics of Spider-Man and Batman embodied into one. While his melee style is similar to Rocksteady’s Arkham games, his takedowns reminded me of Insomniac’s Spider-Man. Combat in Avengers feels most weighted while you’re carrying that shield of Captain. Tossing that shield feels more than satisfying, almost as good as throwing Thor’s hammer. He’s a balanced combatant in both aspects- strength, and agility. I’m eager to see more of him as he’s missing in action after the prologue.

While the combat, for the most part, is satisfying, it’s not as good as the other popular superhero games. The biggest problem here is how pulling off combos or moving from one enemy to the other feeling not as fluid and seamless as it should. To tries to cover it up with loads of gamepad vibration and camera shakes while exchanging punches. It’s hard to make a good free-flowing combat system but Crystal Dynamics should definitely give it some fine-tuning.

Marvel’s Avengers shines in its linear, scripted story-missions. The players will feel right at home controlling their favorite Avengers in stylized set-pieces. But, things soon start to look bleak as you complete the limited story missions in the demo and move over to the more generic looter shooter missions. It feels as if the game was designed to be a story-driven game, but then someone from the executive offices came in and said; “you know what this game is lacking? It’s not a looter shooter”, and bam! From connectivity issues to uninspired quest design to the awful invisible loot, Avengers is confused about what it wants to be- is it going to feature an extensive single-player campaign with short bursts of strike missions with the loot grind saved postponed till the endgame, or is it going to be a loot-focused experience with story missions sprinkled in-between?

Visuals and performance

Outdoors seems blurry at times

Thanks to Crystal Dynamic’s Foundation Engine, Avengers does not seem to be lacking in the visuals department with high-quality character models and assets. Sadly, these visuals are drenched in an excessive amount of motion blur and low-quality FXAA. Even simple things such as turning the camera around make the game feel sluggish and blurry. Not to mention the fact that, as soon as things heat up on the screen, the framerates take a hike on the base PS4. But hey, no one will criticize the jagged edges at least. Do note that these issues happened on the base PS4. Pro version looks slightly better and runs way better.

Final Impression

I’m cautiously optimistic for Marvel’s Avengers. Its linear campaign is filled with well-executed and scripted action sequences but the multiplayer missions leave much to be desired. Despite the sloppiness in its combat, it is enjoyable due to the presentation and spectacular boss battles. Following last year’s criticism, all the Avengers have received a major visual overhaul. It shows how keen Square Enix is on listening to their audience. With a few performance tweaks and more focus on the story missions, Marvel’s Avengers has the potential to be the promising superhero game we have been asking for.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Square Enix for providing closed beta code for PlayStation 4.

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