There’s a lot to be said about Marvel’s Avengers and its many many shortcomings, but the Hulk isn’t one of them. For all the unnecessary grinding, the irritating loot system that derails a mission because I have to spend time dismantling junk or figuring out how to break reality itself so that I can punch an AIM goon who is stuck in the sky, playing the game as a gamma-powered rage monster is an absolute thrill.
The funny thing is, I hated playing as the Hulk in the beta. Something just didn’t click, he felt like a massive punch-sponge who could be derailed by a puny robot instead of smashing his way through hordes of homicidal automatons bent on world domination. The Hulk that players get to spend time with initially is a broken shell of a monster, weakened by inner turmoil and doubt, barely able to break an entire continent with a single footstep.
Multiple hours and missions later, while gritting my teeth through some of the most massively frustrating AAA game design, and I freakin’ adore the big guy. Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t do a good job explaining just how your characters grow from rusty vigilantes into Earth’s mightiest mortals, but once you figure it out, it’s amazing how you can build a character to take advantage of their intrinsic abilities.
Here’s a prime example of this: During a chat with Alessandro and Geoff yesterday, they were amazed to find out that each character has a minimum of nine skill-trees that you can plug experience points into. You’re not shown this at first, those additional specialisations are absent when you first get a character and the game never takes the time to remind you that you can go in and toggle various masteries together to create a green behemoth that is nigh-unstoppable.
I’m just past the halfway mark on Hulk’s skill tree (which caps out at level 50), and the ability unlocks I’ve gained has been nothing short of astounding. In a regular melee, he’s essentially a force of nature with breath-taking anger management issues. Not only can I grab an AIM-bot and treat it like a Loki ragdoll from the first Avengers movie, I can do so without being interrupted and I can wield two of these jerks at the same time like ninja weapons.
Yes, I can turn enemies into makeshift nunchucks and it’s the best thing ever. Even better, I can create a shockwave attack by slamming them into each other, dealing devastating damage in the process. For dealing with larger enemies while trash mobs surround you, that ability focus is a godsend, and combined with an upgraded Intrinsic ability power-up, it keeps my Hulk in the fight for as long as I need.
I’ve even managed to join a few multiplayer games when the servers aren’t poked, and the collaboration has been astonishing. With the right team members and gear perks, it’s not uncommon to enter a battle and benefit from invulnerability buffs, instant willpower restorations and a top-up of your heroic abilities that results in a cinematic brouhaha that’s on par with the MCU films. Granted, the abysmal performance of the game on PS4 makes achieving this perfect fusion tricky, but when it works, it’s spectacular.
I think the point of all this, is that I think we finally have a fantastic Hulk in video game flesh, since 2005’s Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. That game also nailed the pure power fantasy thrill of being Bruce Banner’s alter-ego, by doing the exact opposite of what Ang Lee’s Hulk movie accomplished: Tossing story out of the window, and allowing you to turn nearby cars into boxing gloves. Game of the year material, it was.
Hulk games before then, were atrocious. Laborious exercises in being incredibly not fun, Ultimate Destruction gave fans a thrill-ride of massive property damage that didn’t give a damn. In a lot of ways, the Hulk in Marvel’s Avengers feels like a spiritual successor of that titan, enhanced by the right MCU influences and given a touch of class by developer Crystal Dynamics.
He’s strong, angry, and there’s so much more to him than meets the eye, if you’re willing to trudge through the parts of Marvel’s Avengers that are in desperate need of an overhaul. Crystal Dynamic’s Hulk is an unstoppable engine of destruction whose brawn benefits from using your brain to push him in the right direction.
And that’s just a smashing to experience.
Last Updated: September 10, 2020