Last weekend was a “free weekend” for Marvel Avengers on Steam. It was a game I was aware of, but the multiplayer heavy focus didn’t appeal to me (yes, I know I just posted about a multiplayer game I am obsessed with, I HAVE LAYERS PEOPLE!) but I knew the campaign story focused on one of the few superheroes I’ve actually read most of the comics for – Kamala Khan aka the latest Ms Marvel.
Dean Abdou writing for Eurogamer wrote a fantastic piece on how much this representation mattered to him and so many others so I really wanted to see Kamala in action in the game. This free weekend gave me that chance!
The tutorial for the game starts off with Baby!Kamala (okay, fine, tween Kamala) attending the Avengers showcase, invited because she entered her Avengers fanfic into a contest. It was a really cute way to learn the basic controls, set up the story, meet the Avengers and just fall more in love with her character. Kamala adores all the Avengers, she is a mega-nerd for them and the opening is filled with sweet little moments of her interacting with most of them. Of course, things quickly go sideways and the game throws you into a tutorial for each of the Avengers and you have to learn all of their controls as they fight their way across a bridge of baddies.
It was fun – after that sequence I came to the conclusion that I prefer to play superhero video games than actually sit and watch the movies (TV series are a different story…different post, stop trying to distract me!).
After the opening credits finish, the story jumps forward to teen Kamala, already beginning her journey to becoming Ms Marvel. Essentially a multiverse spin on the events of the first trade “New Normal” as Kamala runs through Jersey City, dodging drones and finding her hideout.
But, of course, the game is called ‘Avengers’ not ‘Ms Marvel’, and the campaign revolves around finding the rest of the team and bringing them together. After playing a few levels as Ms Marvel, she finds the Hulk, and you play as the big guy for a bit. It was pretty easy to see where this was going – search out each hero, play as them, eventually join up with other players online so you have a full team assembled (pun intended).
I will say, I did enjoy some of the fighting. At first I thought it was going to be a button masher, but at least during one of the boss fights, it felt important to use combo moves to really cause damage. But most of the time, I felt like as long as I cycled through that heroes powers each time they recharged, I could win the fight or at least avoid being overwhelmed.
The animation is gorgeous but I will say I found the character design to be…lacking. OutsideXbox recently released a video called “7 Times Movie Games Couldn’t Get the Actor’s Likeness So Here’s Some Random – Part Two” which featured Avengers:
Banner, Stark, and Steve all look…a lot alike. Bruce and Stark could be brothers, with the same pointy nose and beard and brown eyes. I know they couldn’t make them resemble any of the actors even a little, for fear of lawsuit, but sheesh, could you have at least used slightly different face models? For a game with this much money behind it, I feel like they could have done better.
I don’t know if I will buy Avengers any time soon – probably only if some friends also pick it up – but getting to I play as Kamala and be part of her adventure was SO much fun. I am very much looking forward to the Disney+ series (which have been far more interesting than the movies to me, getting to really spend time with the characters. I’m glad she is starting out there). If you haven’t read the comics, I highly suggest picking them up – they are funny and full of action along with good family moments, coming of age stories and, of course, geeking out and enjoying being in the Marvel universe.