Video Game Opinion – Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers aren’t the Avengers we know, but that’s OK

At E3 this year Crystal Dynamics gave the world their first look at their new game, Marvel’s Avengers. Blending cutscenes with snippets of gameplay, the E3 reveal didn’t tell audiences anywhere near enough about the game; a missed opportunity given that the Avengers had reached peak hype following the Russo brothers’ box office smash hit Avengers: Endgame.

In fact, there was one thing the cutscene -heavy introduction to the game did highlight; that we – the audience – had become so accustomed to the faces and voices of the Avengers actors (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth) that seeing their characters portrayed in a different way was extremely jarring.

Fast forward to this week, and the dust has settled following Avengers: Endgame (pun intended) giving Crystal Dynamics the opportunity to correct past mistakes at Gamescom (albeit sadly not via a time heist of their own). Crystal Dynamics have now shared the full prologue from Marvel’s Avengers; something that was only revealed to select press members at E3. Having watched this slice of action (which also includes the previously released cutscenes), I now feel a lot more excited for Marvel’s Avengers. Before I explain why, check out the gameplay for yourself:

So why am I excited?

For starters, the Endgame hype has died down a little (though I am still looking forward to watching it again on Blu-Ray in a few weeks!), and so it no longer feels quite as jarring to see Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk and Thor sporting slightly different voices, faces and clothes. Endgame felt like a closing chapter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now a little time has passed, it no longer seems so weird to see these characters reincarnated and reinvented for a different medium. Sure, some of those costumes still look a little … off … but no doubt there will be plenty of alternatives to unlock along the way if you’re not a fan of Crystal Dynamics’ own designs.

Secondly, the gameplay showed that – despite these Avengers no longer looking or sounding the same – they very much have the traits we have come to expect, blending aspects of their comic book and movie personas into the game. Tony and Thor appear to be close allies, much like they are in the comic books (most of the time), though both share similarities with their silver screen counterparts. The Hulk is still green and angry, Captain America is still the selfless hero, and Black Widow is still one of the smartest combatants on the team.

Even though there is only a small amount of gameplay on show in the above trailer, it still does a good job of demonstrating the variety that will be on offer when playing through some of the roster of heroes available in Marvel’s Avengers. Thor’s brawling melee looks enjoyable, particularly when coupled with a Mjolnir mechanic that looks like it works in the same way as Kratos’ axe in God of War, whilst the ranged attacks of Iron Man make sense for someone who has a lot of power on tap, but can’t take the same beating up close and personal. Captain America’s melee looks to combine the two, with more tactical melee and ranged shield throwing, whilst Black Widow has the most fluid, acrobatic and technical fighting style. And then there’s the Hulk; he smashes.

captain america
It’s Captain America, but not the Chris Evans Captain America we know and love. But that’s OK.

Crystal Dynamics have a good record in the third-person genre with their Tomb Raider reboot, and its successor Rise of the Tomb Raider, offering great visuals, engaging gameplay and good stories (Crystal Dynamics weren’t the lead developer on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and I felt it really showed). Therefore  I have a lot of faith in the studio’s ability to handle a property as popular as the Avengers. The presentation in the  trailer looks great, with seamless transitions between the gameplay and the cutscenes, and with each hero appearing to have a unique style that will be fun to learn and play around with.

Ultimately, Crystal Dynamics’ E3 reveal was a missed opportunity, falling flat instead of riding high on the wave of Avengers popularity so conveniently handed to them by the Russo brothers. Nonetheless the release of the full prologue at Gamescom has helped allay my fears about the game and I am now looking forward to seeing more of the game over the coming months, and giving it a go myself when it releases (which is currently scheduled for 15th May 2020, but as ever, could change).

And if nothing else, as a huge Thor fan (in the comics and the MCU), I’m going to look forward to smashing people about with Mjolnir, flinging it into the distance and calling it back to my hand. God of War already gave me that mechanic, but Marvel’s Avengers looks likely to let me live out that fantasy in full.


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