Updated Tue, May 14, 2013 by Dalmarus
With the US premiere of Iron Man 3 less than two weeks ago, what better
way to spend a weekend than putting Gazillion's Marvel Heroes through the
paces during its final beta period? For any True Believer, there's really
no other option. While the game may have had some technical issues
preventing some players from enjoying it on Saturday (myself among them),
those have been resolved and the beta period has been extended until
Tuesday, rather than Monday. Having hopped back on late Saturday night and
played throughout Sunday, I'm here to say that if you've ever dreamed of
being The Thing and beating the holy living hell out of some bad guys,
this is the game for you.
There's a variety of character flavors to satisfy a wide audience. With such a variety of superheroes available to play and cameos by virtually every Marvel superhero or villain you can conceive of, it's obvious the team tried to get in as many fan favorites as they could, including a number of lesser known classics from the 80s. But more on that later.
This weekend, players were able to choose one of the heroes from last summer's blockbuster, The Avengers, minus Hawkeye (sorry dude - looks like you didn't make the cut this weekend). Since Scarlett Johansson did such a kickass job on screen, I decided to put her alter ego, The Black Widow, to the test first. And let's face it - we all like seeing strong female characters that can hold their own and beat the hell out of some bad guys, right? While she's a little weak in the beginning, it doesn't take long before I got several levels and started spending power points, giving her an array of abilities all designed to put the fear of spiders into my enemies.
I did mention cameos and boy are there some that shocked me. I'll leave the
majority of them for you to discover unspoiled, but let me mention one -
Cloak. Cloak and Dagger were an old duo from the 80s that, as far as I know,
have not been through some kind of recent resurgence, yet they should be.
Dagger is a young girl who can fling blades made of light, but Cloak is a
superhero so terrifying he would have made the ultimate villain. He has a
few abilities, but the terrifying one is his ability to engulf his enemy and
contain them in complete darkness. It may not sound too bad, but those who
come out obviously saw or felt... something, and it wasn't pleasant. He's
one of my favorite relatively unknown superheroes, and seeing him in the
game was completely unexpected and a special treat.
Just like her on-screen and comic book counterpart, The Black Widow may look like a sweetheart in a black leather suit, but she's really an agile in-your-face fighter and the game conveys that very well. In fact, this was an ongoing conclusion with each of the superheroes I tried out this weekend. I played The Black Widow, Storm, and The Thing. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The Black Widow is a fighter with some minor ranged abilities, Storm is a ranged fighter that feels very weak initially but becomes a powerhouse quickly, and The Thing was just as big, funny, and lovable as I expected him to be. He's also a tank that can take extreme amounts of punishment. I was quite happy to discover how differently they all played as I moved further through the game. One of my greatest fears with Marvel Heroes was that characters would all play the same, but just have different skins. My play test put that fear to rest.
A lot of superheroes will be available to play at launch. There are a few personal favorites that I haven't seen in the announced roster quite yet (Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer, etc.), but with the incredible number of superheroes available in the Marvel Universe, cuts had to be made somewhere. Keep your eyes on the in-game store, though, as I'm sure new heroes will make their way in on a regular basis. During the beta, each player was given some free money to buy some extra heroes. The system is quick, slick, and completely intuitive. That's harder than it sounds to pull off, but the team managed to do so with style.
The more I played though, the more I began to realize that the team at
Gazillion has packed the game from head to toe with nods and insider lore.
It's not just in the phrases the superheroes use while fighting
(voiced-over by some very talented actors, by the way), but the little
things that only a fan of a particular superhero or villain would pick up
on. For example, at one point in my adventures this weekend, I found an
old VHS tape. Right-clicking on it brought up a cut scene... of The
Taskmaster Institute infomercial. I hate using chat acronyms in my
articles, but OMFG! The video is not only brilliantly unexpected and
funny, but it's also 100% accurate in terms of Marvel lore. The Taskmaster
really does recruit students to teach them in the ways of crime and
villainy. To the casual observer, finding the video is an entertaining
distraction. To the True Believer, it gives you a special acknowledgement
of your comic passions.
Another contestant in the Free-to-Play market, Marvel Heroes is one worth taking the time to check out when it goes live on June 4th.