Pointless Nonsense

Posted in video games by Bill on June 11, 2013

marvel-heroes-logoMarvel Heroes is the free-to-play Diablo-esque game set in the Marvel Universe. It’s close to a perfectly playable game, but it has a number of problems.

The biggest is that it’s done as an MMORPG, which as far as I can tell adds nothing to the game but annoyances. In certain locations, your screen is littered with other players. But there’s no real reason to interact with them at all. No trading system that I’m aware of, hardly anyone talks, an auto-party system that forces you into a group with 3 strangers but doesn’t force you to cooperate at all (most of the time, half your party races through the big crowded open areas, while the other half stops to fight any enemies they encounter). As far as I can tell, the only real benefit to having anyone else around is that they can revive you when you die. Which saves you the minor inconvenience of starting over at your last save point. What the other people do more than anything is slow your game down. Something they call “event villains” occasionally puts a boss (Venom, for example) in a big open area and it prompts dozens of people to go fight him. And then all those people on the screen at once makes the game lag pretty badly (my computer is not particularly fast, but I dial all the video options down and it’s still an issue, so I’m fairly confident it’s either taxing the server or the network connection).

Another problem is that they chose a particularly low angle from which to show the action, presumably to get a better view of combat animations. But that means any time you walk past the north side of a building, the building has to become partially invisible for you to see yourself. Which mostly works out fine, but it can be a real challenge to figure out where a door is, because the roof doesn’t become invisible early enough.

There’s also the issue of using one story for a bunch of characters. The free starting characters are Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Thing, Storm, or Daredevil. Since he is my favorite Marvel character, I naturally went with Daredevil. And within the first 30 minutes or so, I, as Daredevil, had to ask Wonder Man and Valkyrie to tell me about Hell’s Kitchen and the Hand. Which makes no sense at all, since that’s my neighborhood and fighting Hand ninjas is kinda my thing.

On a related note, the Daredevil voice actor is all wrong. He sounds like Wolverine, which is almost the opposite of Daredevil (though fighting Hand ninjas is also Wolverine’s thing). I get the instinct to go with a tough guy voice, because Daredevil stories frequently involve horrible things happening to Matt’s loved ones and him getting angry and all the things you normally associate with a tough guy sort of person. But that’s not who he is at all, he’s a charmer both professionally and personally, so the idea that he’d have a hoarse, intimidating voice just doesn’t make sense. Also, I don’t think he’d want to be an Avenger ever, and even though he did join the New Avengers for about 15 issues, I like to pretend that never happened, so him taking orders from Nick Fury and Maria Hill seems all wrong.

There are other heroes you can either buy or acquire through gameplay (I played 3-4 hours and picked up Scarlet Witch as well). But it’s a really weird selection of characters. 2 of the Fantastic Four, Cable is one of the X-Men choices, they included Squirrel Girl and Rocket Raccoon but not Iron Fist or Iceman or Beast or Wasp or Hank Pym or Kitty Pryde or Vision or Valkyrie (though some of them appear as NPCs).

After an opening cinematic, the story is told through motion comics written by Brian Michael Bendis. The art/animation is a little iffy, but not the worst (it was really only bad in one spot, where Elektra. And a lot of the voice actors were pretty good. Keith David voices Nick Fury and I’m pretty sure they used the Spider-Man from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. These were decent enough that I pushed forward despite my reservations, but then the end of chapter 3 or 4 basically undid everything that happened, returning the MacGuffin to its original owner, basically stopping the story dead. And then you get diverted into an Mutant Growth Hormone story, something that Bendis has been trying to make a thing forever, but I don’t think anyone else cares.

So that pissed me off and I’m definitely done now. I demand my $0 back!

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