Marvel’s Avengers (2020)

The ugly cousin of the MCU & textural joke that looks, plays, feels, & features 10+ years outdated in 2020 – wasting the groundbreaking introduction of Kamala Khan, many classic villains, & fine (but unoriginal) storyline, this Avengers feels like a fan-fiction game. 3.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: Marvel’s Avengers is an action role-playing brawler video game co-developed by Crystal Dynamics & published by Square Enix on the Marvel Comics superhero team.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A New Era Of Video Games

One Of The Biggest Blockbuster Franchises Expands To Gaming w/ A 100% Guaranteed Home-Run -& Somehow Disgraces Avengers

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest and most successful blockbuster franchises ever. There is no debating the decade of box-office receipts and fandom numbers the series has been able to garner; there is debating whether they are good films or not – not real cinema as Martin Scorsese recently (accurately) pointed out, but enjoyable theme park entertainment that makes you want to keep coming back 23-some-odd times for the next go-round, nonetheless. The franchise was able to outlive dozens or even hundreds of others who have failed to last due to its career-role RDJ-led castings, tonal ingratiation to its fanbase’s wants-and-needs down to a science, and decent storytelling that never offends or strays outside its target demographic and formula – a fact that might vex true movie lovers/critics, but is damn effective at gathering fans. Perhaps the king of modern blockbuster franchises in terms of by-the-numbers success, the announcement Marvel would be expanding to gaming was met with obvious excitement – bolstered by the fantastic PS4 outing of Spider-Man on-par with early Batman: Arkham games that promised great things to come. A game of the heavy-hitter heroes of Marvel whose films now hold multiple All-Time box-office records: The Avengers should be an easy home-run, right? Apparently and somehow beyond comprehension, wrong. The ugly cousin of the MCU & textural joke that looks, plays, feels, & features 10+ years outdated on its 2020 release – wasting the groundbreaking introduction of Kamala Khan, dozens of comics villains, & fine (although unoriginal) storyline, this Square Enix pseudo-Avengers feels like a fan-fiction of a game impossibly messing up a game on the world’s most popular blockbuster franchise.

A Mess Of A Beginning

A Chaotic, Anticlimactic Introduction That Feels Like A Commercial For The New Avengers Campus At Disney World This Year

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

From the opening seconds of Avengers, the game feels like one big cash-grab. The plot opens up into a theme park full of attractions at the Avengers campus it’s borderline chaos to have to find five comic books scattered within, hidden in strange places beneath the claustrophia-inducing mob of popcorn, sodas, memorabilia, and virtual people – a counterintuitive place that has absolutely nothing to do with the story and lacks the exposition or exciting cinematic opening a game with this kind of title demands. This is awfully coincidental being mere months away from when the similarly-looking Avengers Campus expansion at Disneyworld was slated to open in mid-to-late 2020 in a non-COVID world – is this wildly-anticlimactic, bloated, tedious opening a glorified studio-mandated commercial ad for it and comic book history MCU fans clearly don’t care much about with the films being very different from the comics in almost every way? Hmm. The textures, gameplay, combat, story, orchestration, unlocks, and visuals will all be analyzed soon – spoiler alert: they’re almost all-bad, extremely head-scratching, and near-impossible to mess up being this famous a project, name, and mega-budget – but first we need to talk about the major comics’ royalty player the game gets right: Kamala Khan.

The Introduction Of Ms. Marvel

The Game’s Biggest (& Only) Achievement: A Groundbreaking Intro To The First Muslim Superhero & Perfect Character Arc – Wasted

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

The developers and screenwriters deserve major credit for getting one of Marvel’s best and most groundbreaking child heroes right: Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. The first and most popular Muslim superhero, this is the ‘Black Panther’ moment my people have been waiting for after seeing so many others get theirs in big cinematic titles like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians – being a brown person myself as the son of Indian immigrants and a POC, the film’s groundbreaking representation of Khan is a major achievement. She is dynamic, layered, and packs the pure childhood spirit and excitement of a young Spider-Man in a new groundbreaking light – a characterization and character arc that feels very MCU-ish (and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of MCU screenwriters cameoed/moonwalked here to give it that cinematic punch but how well the game understands the character) and surprisingly-accurate to brown customs for this big a blockbuster. The delicate humanization and classic heroine’s parable Khan undergoes on this cross-country trip being torn away from home and having to grow up a fugitive hunted and running from the law is magnificent – brought to life by a fantastic vocal performance by Sandra Saad, impressively-powered, and a fine lead that might also stand as the only interesting and salvageable character from the entire game.

The Team Scenes & Villains

The Limitless Possibilities Of Gaming Open Good Co-Op Battles Like The Golden Gate Bridge – & Tons Of A-Villains From Comics

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

Well, there is one more exciting part of the game to be fair: the team co-op sequences and bare thrill of seeing classic Marvel villains from throughout the Avengers’ comic book history make their pseudo-cinematic debut (even if horrifically-rendered). Taskmaster, M.O.D.O.K., Galactus, AIM, and multiple other iconic villains from the red-hued franchise’s comics lore are given their first real sizable feature in pop media – and that alone is a pro. The story and unlock systems are good, but unoriginal. The A-Day plot is an amalgamation of others’ ideas: like a blast of a energy from an uncontainable power source creating metahumans throughout a major city the heroes can then fight taken from the central plot of CW’s 2014 The Flash TV Series, mega-references to ’80’s movies throughout, and multiple themes taken from past Avengers films like a robot army from Age Of Ultron, Avengers losing and having to deal with the consequences of their failure to save people from Endgame/Infinity War, airport hangar fights from Civil War, exiled Hulk from Thor: Ragnarok, AIM the literal villain organization of Iron Man 3, and the original team with Kamala instead of Hawkeye from Avengers 2012 the game tries desperately to downplay influence from, but look above. Even withstanding the unoriginality though, the plot is aptly-cinematic and perhaps even a better storyline than the horrific Age Of Ultron for a sequel to the original Avengers film – as we overcome the overlord-dictatorship of Tarleton and have some fun big multi-Avengers co-op gameplay sequences. The Golden Gate Bridge scene showcases potential for what they game could’ve been at max capacity in pure co-op gameplay and the one given to us in the Beta to trick us into subjugation & impress the naysayers ripping the game to shreds when its first trailer debuted for one reason: visuals.

The Ugly Cousin Of The MCU

A Team Of ‘Avengers’ That Lacks Every Bit Of The Charisma & Energy Of The MCU – A Validation That w/o The Movies & Castings, No One Would Care About The Avengers

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

Marvel’s Avengers might just be the ugliest video game post-2010. There, I said it. The textures are muddy and laughably-amateurish – looking polygonally like they were made by a middle-schooler on an iPod touch or PlayStation 1 rather than next-gen consoles like the Xbox One & PS4. Beyond technicalities and Square Enix’s lazy & uninspired visual canvas, the team looks absolutely awful. There are no words to describe how inexorably awful Captain America & Thor look here: Thor with his ultra-cringey classic tank-top comics’ ensemble without the one piece that makes him look even halfway-decent in his helmet and Captain America with hockey gear and a dirty-blue bulky/bloated outfit that makes him look borderline-fat or dadbod – with kneepads. Yes, freaking kneepads like he just came from a JV soccer game. My holy goodness, what a travesty. Romanov looks like a cosplayer in a spandex outfit covering big bazongas the gameplay designers apparently wanted to heavily-stress with the zipper barely covering them and Stark, Hulk, & Kamala’s outfits are serviceable, but pale in comparison to the ones we’ve grown to internalize on-screen. The most sacrilegious part of this fake-Avengers is that it somehow manages to squander one of the easiest positions ever in a video game: just make a next-gen version of the most popular blockbuster franchise of our era, the MCU. I cannot remotely understand how they had such an easy canvas of inspiration to work from (or, shamelessly copy and no one would have cared) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and managed to make.. this. The characters are absolutely dull and lifeless – with no remote pulse or excitation/charisma behind the eyes of these characters now known the-world-over.

A Full-Team Locked Behind Pay Wall & Bugs

The Team’s Dramatic Incompletion Is One You Expect To Be Fixed Post-Game – But Lacking & Locked; No Spider-Man w/o PS4

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

The MCU – while it has its flaws in formulaic blockbuster construction and vice for quips – is as successful as it is because of one thing: characters & castings. Lifetime roles like RDJ’s Iron Man, Evans’ Captain America, Hemsworth’s Thor, Holland’s Spider-Man, etc. are simply inimitable and lightning-in-a-bottle casting work that oozes charisma and bursts with energy (except outliers: Brie Larson’s Capt. Marvel & Ruffalo’s Hulk) – and are likely never to be duplicated. Taking taking Marvel characters no one knew or cared about for decades (and Sony even rejected taking for ~free back in the ’90’s with the exception of the famous Spider-Man) and making them into a franchise with over $10 Billion grossed and 23 films to-date is no small accomplishment – by-the-numbers the most successful modern blockbuster franchise and one it seems freaking idiotic to not take high cues from right? Well, that’s what Square Enix decided to do – and we can see how it turns out. Not only did they have their own brand to learn from, but they also could’ve seen the internal strife and competition happening over at their competitor brand in DC: with the DCEU & DCTV (DCTV being 10x better) as well as their own lore/history’s multiple castings of the same characters like Flash, Batman, Superman, etc. creating divisions and rebellions within critic circles and their own fandom like a landmine field it’s impossible to navigate when your own brand is competing both with external competition and internal. The game is, if anything, the exact proof of why the MCU is what it is: no competing versions of the same characters, both historically and now, for almost all of its characters outside Spider-Man – getting the castings and general characterization right the first time so people have no choice but to accept and internalize these as the correct versions of the characters.

The Ugliest Video Game Post-2010

A Ghastly Visual Canvas With Laughable Textures, Technics, & Scenes By 2020 Tech; A Plot From The Flash & Combat From Arkham

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

For them to ignore the omnipotence of clues and warning signs screaming DO NOT MAKE A SEPARATE UNIVERSE and still find a way to boggle this is impossibly-astonishing, and proof that the MCU could’ve failed if it wasn’t for the herculean efforts of its first few slate films leading up to 2012’s Avengers that blows this out of the stratosphere in every conceivable metric of entertainment. Beyond the inexcusable wrongness of all its characters, the voice performances are uninspired except for Kamala’s (that is the one character that feels very MCU-ish and redeemable), frame-rate ridiculously heavy and cumbersome, bugs-galore taking forever to load anything like a mere re-do of a mission post-death and making it borderline-unplayable oftentimes throughout, gameplay chaotic and a poor knockoff of the Batman Arkham games they can’t even copy correctly, upgrade system another badly-designed copy of the Injustice system, plot-holes everpresent like how the AIM-bots can’t see Chimeras the size of literal mountains parked in the middle of the Utah badlands on their many studies of the resistance’s area, and full team locked behind a pay-wall. Spider-Man: the most famous Marvel character of All-Time, 3rd most iconic superhero ever created behind Batman & Superman, and best character the brand has ever made just given a brilliant video game of his own (yet another source to take notes from Square Enix obviously.. didn’t) being a PS4-exclusive and not available on any other console is absolutely ludicrous – pure capitalistic greed by Sony that mutilates the game because.. well.. they’re so desperate/clingy to one character, they can’t bear to loan him to be a redemption/salvage piece in a game that desperately needs all the help/star-power it can get. Horrible.

Conclusion

A Fan-Fiction Of A Game

A Joke Of A Game That Looks, Feels, Plays, & Features 10+ Years Outdated & Impossible To Mess-Up In 2020 – A Waste Of Kamala Khan

Photograph Courtesy Of: Square Enix & Marvel Games

Overall, Avengers is might just be the worst – and, definitely, the ugliest – video game post-2010. The decency of co-op gameplay, unoriginal-yet-better-than-Ultron storyline, and a charming introduction of the representationally-groundbreaking and well-characterized Kamala Khan cannot salvage the jaw-droppingly awful canvas: one that is absolutely inexcusable and unexplainable in 2020. How Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics managed to actively-ignore the decade of MCU success to take cues from (or even just outright-copy) and DCEU vs. DCTV internal fandom rivalries while ruining a gargantuan budget, world-renowned characters, and limitless possibilities of gaming with 2020 technology is absolutely astonishing and a failure for the history books. The ugly cousin of the MCU & textural joke that looks, plays, feels, & features 10+ years outdated on its 2020 release – wasting the groundbreaking introduction of Kamala Khan, dozens of comics villains, & fine (though unoriginal) storyline in a canvas that looks like it was made by a teenager on first-gens or an iPod touch, this Avengers feels like a fan-fiction of a game impossibly messing up the world’s most popular blockbuster franchise, and providing a strong case that the MCU might’ve been a fluke or freak occurence by just how boring Avengers could’ve been.

Official CLC Score: 3.2/10