Marvel's Avengers (for PC) Review

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PC Magazine: "Marvel's Avengers (for PC) Review" - By Tony Polanco – September 4, 2020
Notice: Note: Marvel's Avengers premiered on September 4, 2020.

Engaging cinematic campaign Fighting endless hordes quickly becomes tiring
Tight combat mechanics and thrilling set pieces Weak enemy AI
Great to play with friends Too much grinding
Robust customization options Some costumes can only be purchased using real money

The looter-shooter genre made a big splash with games like Destiny and The Division. Though those titles are still viable, the genre isn't quite as popular as it used to be just a few years ago. Enter Marvel’s Avengers. This Crystal Dynamics-developed project removes the "shooter" aspect and replaces it with third-person melee combat and legendary superheroes.

Avengers places a stronger emphasis on storytelling than the aforementioned titles, but its looter-shooter roots remain an inescapable component. This is either a huge selling point or a reason to pass on the PC game, depending on your tolerance for grinding gear.

Heroic Narrative
The story begins on “A-Day,” a massive celebration held in San Francisco for the world’s mightiest heroes. The festivities end when an unknown terrorist group attacks the Golden Gate Bridge and the SHIELD Helicarrier holding the celebration. The Avengers leap into battle and seemingly emerge victorious before things take a turn for the worse.

The Helicarrier explodes, destroying San Francisco and releasing a strange mist that gives some survivors superpowers, including protagonist Kalama Khan. As a result, the world bans superhero activities, and the surviving Avengers split up. A scientific think tank organization named Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) steps in to take the place of superheroes.

Though benevolent on the surface, AIM has less than altruistic motives. Because its robots and security guards roam America’s streets, an underground resistance forms with the goal to expose AIM's villainy.

One of the resistance members is the aforementioned Kamala Khan. The Avengers-obsessed teenager finds evidence of AIM’s treachery, and goes on a quest to reunite the team she loves. This is easier said than done, considering the ragged state of the now-disbanded group.

Despite bearing the Avengers moniker, the story focuses on Kamala Khan. It was a good decision to make Khan the audience surrogate, because seeing the world through he eyes makes for a more immersive gameplay experience. In fact, the game could have been called Kamala Khan and the Avengers, and the title would have worked.

Mighty Combat
Though Khan is the main protagonist, you also control Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America...

Characters have light and heavy attacks, special abilities, and either a dodge or parry. Thankfully, each Avenger has a distinct feel. Hulk is a bruiser who pounds foes into submission, while Iron Man is adept at long-range combat thanks to his beam attacks.

... After completing a number of introductory missions, you’ll gain access to the War Table located within the remnants of the Avenger’s Helicarrier. Through the War Table, you can access the game's solo campaign and multiplayer missions.

Every mission has a suggested power level. If a mission is level nine, and your character’s level is six, you must grind to the required level. You can get away with playing the solo campaign without grinding, but accessing the higher-level multiplayer missions means replaying levels.

Super Upgrades
Leveling up a hero grants skill points that you use to unlock new abilities in that character’s skill tree. These skills give you access to new combos and attacks. As a result, it's possible to create characters tailored to your specific play style...

Unlockable costumes add an extra customization layer. You can adorn the Avengers in a number of different suits that are unique to the game or originate in comic books. The suits include Iron Man’s Mark I armor, Thor’s classic 1960’s look, and Kamala’s homemade costume...

... Unfortunately, you can't buy costumes in piecemeal fashion; you must buy credit packs ranging from 500 credits ($5) to 10,000 ($100). None of the costumes affect how a character plays. The outfit change is purely cosmetic.

Assemble the Team
Avengers wouldn’t be a proper superhero game without online co-op action. Friends (or randoms via matchmaking) can join you for campaign missions featuring more than one character. While that’s all well and good, you’ll get the most out of your multiplayer experience by jumping into Hero and War Zone missions.

Hero missions are two-player story-driven affairs that focus on a specific Avenger... Kamala Khan’s mission has her learning more about her Inhuman abilities. New Hero missions unlock as your Avengers roster grows.

You’ll spend the majority of your time playing and replaying War Zone missions. These take place on sprawling maps that contain numerous objectives.

There missions include defeating bosses, rescuing resistance members, or discovering treasure-packed vaults. Progress made in War Zone—and all mission types, for that matter—carry over to all other game modes...

The game shows little mercy at higher difficulties, so you’ll want a solid team of players behind you to win the day. The multiplayer component is arguably Avengers' strongest aspect. It's what will keep the game alive for months and years.

Graphical Might
Initially, Avengers received criticism for featuring character models that resembled the cast of a low-budget superhero TV series.

Crystal Dynamics clearly fixed this issue, as the characters are now a good blend of their cinematic and comic book iterations. That said, Avengers isn't a visual powerhouse. If you’re looking for a showcase title, this ain’t it...

To play Marvel’s Avengers on PC, your gaming desktop or laptop needs at least a 3.3GHz Intel Core i3-4160 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 GPU, 8GB of RAM, 75GB of storage space, and the Windows 10 operating system...

There are numerous display and graphics options. This includes playing at uncapped frame rates, and enabling bloom effects, V-sync, shadow quality, ambient occasion, and more. You can even enhance water and destruction effects. Photophiles will be happy to know there’s a full-featured photo mode included.

The Avengers' Endgame
Marvel’s Avengers is a good, but not great, game. Its campaign feels ripped straight out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the game features no shortage of action-packed set pieces. It's enjoyable to play as each Avenger, as is upgrading the characters to suit your specific play style.
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