The world is in danger. Doctor Doom has the Cosmic Cube and for once, isn’t solely focused on launching the Fantastic Four building into space. Yet again. It’s up to you, several Hulks, a couple of Deadpools, a dozen Spider-Men and one Rocket Raccoon to step in and save the day. This should be the event of the decade, or one greasy fan fiction existing in a seedy corner of the Internet. But it’s not. It’s Marvel Heroes, and it falls flat on its face with this premise.
Free to play! The latest buzz word in gaming! The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with the idea. But much like communism, when it’s in the hands of the people, things quickly go sour. Marvel Heroes plays to this concept, offering gamers a free tour of the now Disney-owned universe that is home to the Amazing Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and the deadliest hero in the universe, Squirrel Girl.
It’s a clicker through and through, reminiscent of games such as Diablo and Torchlight, where you click in blows and earn some experience towards learning newer, and better moves. We’ve all played this kind of game before, and on this fundamental level, Marvel Heroes works.
It’s just that the thrill quickly wears off as you progress further.
Now before we go further, let me just clarify that for this review, I was given 10 000 points in in-game currency, with which to get the full experience. In terms of cash, that’d equate to around almost a $100/R1000 based on the in-game pricing structure.
In other words, the extras ain’t cheap. So I played the game with a free character, such as Daredevil, while the argubly far more popular characters such as Iron Man and Deadpool would cost you 2000 credits to have in your roster.
It’s not that you need those characters though, it’s that you’ll want them. After all, why be Storm when you can be Hulk? Still, this isn’t exactly a bad business strategy, but bloody hell, it is prohibitively expensive to newcomers. And while there is a chance to unlock those characters with super-rare item drops, you won’t see that happening very often, if at all.
With that out of the way, there’s the matter of what archetypes these spandexed heroes fit into. Characters like Iron Man work well as ranged fighters, while brutes like the Thing and the Hulk are obviously the type that likes to mix things up in the thick of battle. And then you’ve got inbetweeners like Deadpool, who are Jack of all trades at any range.
It’s also a very busy game, with online players also taking part in the action, events and random battles. And that’s another aspect of the game, that quickly becomes infuriating. It’s fine to have some backup, but having the stage instantly regenerate and throw more villains at you while you’re trying to equip some items or see where your skill tree should grow, is annoying to the extreme.
As an online game, Marvel Heroes is crawling with players. After all, it is free. But it’s also pretty damn weird to see a half dozen Hulks take on Electro. In fact, most of the time, you have no idea that an event like this is even happening, as you find yourself dropped smackdab in the middle of it. A feature that once again leads to constant waves of enemies regenerating right in your face.
But the worst sin of this game, is that it’s just so damn boring. Marvel Heroes has all the right ingredients to be successful, from a varied roster of characters with unique abilities through to a faithful recreation of the Marvel Universe, but it just doesn’t put any effort in making it worth the ten gigabyte download. And thanks to the monotonous nature of the mission and enemy structure, those various abilities are wasted.
And being given the option to tailor your hero so that he has a slight cosmetic bump, for a price tag of around a hundred bucks or so, is a downright slap in the face. Somewhere along the line, the developers of Marvel Heroes forgot that players would gladly fork over cash for a good game, and concentrated on expensive costumes and fluff instead.
Sure, the comic book cutscenes are a nice touch, but if I have to warp into Avengers Tower and hear Iron Man admonish Spider-Man for the thousandth time, chairs are going to be thrown. This could have been something great. But instead, Marvel Heroes is a prime example of how big businesses are ruing the core idea of free to play.