Marvel's Avengers Marvel's Avengers

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Marvel’s Avengers: Does it stick the superhero landing?

A title featuring Earth’s mightiest heroes carries great expectations

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The Avengers is the most popular superhero team today thanks in large part to the 23 films and counting that belong to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. This could lead one to believe that anything that has “Marvel’s Avengers” on it will be well-made and polished because of heightened expectations and the backing of perhaps the largest entertainment company today. Well, not quite.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming following the rather lukewarm reception to the A-Day trailer that was released in E3 2019. But that was just a trailer. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics — the companies responsible for the game’s development — still had time to address things.

While there may have been improvements here or there, the overall experience just falls a bit short of the grandiose, spectacle, and fun factor that we’ve come to associate with the Avengers.

Heroes divided

So what’s wrong with it, exactly? There’s not one big glaring thing. But the sum of its parts just doesn’t feel like it makes up a cohesive whole.

Just like how the team was split up after the disaster that was A-Day, the game feels like it’s split between two disjointed parts.

The first is the Reassemble Campaign which takes you through a 10-12 hour single-player Action-RPG type of campaign. You get a chance to play as all of the Avengers but the story is mostly told through the perspective of Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel hard-carrying this game

The second is the Avengers Initiative which is the multiplayer live service part of the game. It’s the part that the developers hoped would keep players coming back.

While the two game modes share the same combat, skills, items, and mission design, the overall experience varies heavily depending on what type of game you’re into.

Ms. Marvel coming of age story

At the core of the Reassemble Campaign is Kamala Khan/ Ms. Marvel. She goes from this bright-eyed fangirl in A-day to a hero in her own right, fighting alongside the heroes she admired.

As someone who generally prefers single-player games, this was the part of the game I enjoyed the most. It’s got enough heart, humor, and character that made the MCU such a mainstream hit, while also sprinkling a little bit of Saturday-morning-cartoon campiness.

The best thing about the story is the dynamic between the characters: Kamala and Bruce Banner’s mentor-mentee relationship, the anger between Tony Stark and Bruce after the latter’s testimonies in court after A-Day, and this bromance between Tony and Steve Rogers.

There’s a lot of great character moments here that should be familiar to Marvel fans whether you came in from the comic books, TV series, or the MCU.

It isn’t without any problems though. Thor had very little to do with the plot except for just being there. He played the deus ex machina role when he first rejoined the team. I guess that’s fitting for a literal god.

The boss battles are also very mediocre. After squaring off against Taskmaster and the Abomination, the next boss battles will all be against AIM Robots. For a superhero hero team with such a rich rogues gallery, this was rather disappointing.

Modok was the only other non AIM robot villain

While it sort of makes sense given the flow of the story, I think they could have thrown in even at least one more Marvel villain there or at least have another tussle against Taskmaster and the Abomination.

Other than that, the story is pretty solid. I wish I could say the same for gameplay.

Grinding for gear

The core of the gameplay is the combat, skills, and gears. This is what connects the single-player campaign to the multiplayer missions. It’s a mixed bag to say the least.

The skill tree for each character is deep but you’ll have to grind through the missions to really get to all of them. More on this later. Meanwhile, the gears are… okay.

There are plenty of skills to unlock

While most other reviewers griped about the lack of cosmetic effect from the gear you pickup, I thought this was mostly okay. It’s almost the same with Marvel’s Spider-Man where I can pick whatever suit I want but change my abilities depending on what the mission requires.

The thing is, in the Spider-Man game by Insomniac, the suit came at no cost. In Marvel’s Avengers, while you can grind your way into some awesome cosmetic changes, a bulk of the better looking ones are stuck behind a paywall. That’s what really grinds most people’s gears, I think.

What grinds your gears?

I also recognize that more thought could have been put into the gears seeing as the whole point of the game is getting loot and items while you’re out on missions. For instance, they could have opted to have a set of cosmetic options for gear that negate certain status effects like frosting.

Feel like a superhero

Despite sharing mostly the same controls — light and heavy attacks, dodging, and jumping on the main buttons plus special abilities on the shoulder buttons —  the game does a good job of making each character feel distinct.

Your experience playing as Iron Man will be very different from the one playing as Thor despite both sharing the ability to fly. Same is true for Captain America and Black Widow even though they’re both mostly grounded melee fighters.

Marvel’s Avengers

The stretchy Ms. Marvel also offers perhaps one of the most unique play styles as she also has the ability to heal. It’s perfect for when you’re embarking on multiplayer missions.

Mission unbearable

The missions are where I think the game fumbles a lot. They have a relatively good combat core to build around, but the level designs and challenges leave so much room for improvement.

The missions revolve around retrieving an item, defeating hordes of AIM robots and soldiers, and most frustratingly, defending a small circular area while being swarmed by even more AIM robots and soldiers.

Combat can get chaotic

It’s just a whole bunch of small fries coming at you from left and right. There’s very little variation and it can get old real quick. What’s even more frustrating is to really level up the characters, these are the missions you have to grind through. You don’t get to the really good parts of the combat unless you go through these missions.

Remember the final act of both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron where the team is battling against armies of Chitari and Ultron’s robots? That’s what the missions feel like except it happens over, and over, and over, and over again.

Good for team players

To balance the opinion, I spoke with our good friend Francis Romero who is both a long-time gamer and huge Marvel fan. Unlike yours truly, Francis actually finds enjoyment in the missions.

What struck me the most with his observation is how team play is crucial in the missions. You can customize your characters’ loadouts to fit the needs of the team. Each one can play a certain role so you can accomplish missions with relative ease.

Flying to a mission

For instance, he said he wasn’t a fan of Ms. Marvel being part of his main team but being a healer, she would be an essential part of the team.

In this regard, the play-with-friends appeal is real. It’s honestly not my cup of tea, but there’s certainly something here that can be enjoyed by people with actual friends or those who play well in a team-setting.

A better future

The other appeal of Marvel’s Avengers being a live service game is the promise of a better future. The developers have already promised that any future DLC content will be free-of-charge.

Hawk-eye — both Will Barton and Kate Bishop — have already been teased and there are more characters coming in the future. Each character, I supposed, will come with their own unique story that will build on the campaign. Their abilities will also be something to consider when building a team for the Avengers Initiative missions.

While the present may be slightly disappointing, a promising future awaits.

Does it stick the superhero landing?

The promise of a better future shouldn’t be the leg that a game stands on. The game can be a little fun at best and a messy, buggy experience at worst.

The loading time from one segment of the game to another is ridiculously long. It almost feels like you can watch an entire MCU film and the game would still be loading when you come back to it.

This loading screen can go on FOREVER

Marvel’s Avengers is weighed down by the expectations surrounding it. When you have a title so mainstream and the backing of an entertainment giant that has dominated the mainstream consciousness for a better part of the decade, it’s fair to expect a polished game. One that feels like the triumphant third act of most MCU films.

Instead, it feels more like the first time Tony Stark took the Iron Man Mark II out for a spin in the first Iron Man movie. It was a fun but clunky ride, and when he soared to go higher he ran into an icing problem.

Marvel’s Avengers

In many ways, that’s what this Marvel’s Avengers game feels like. It’s clunky but fun and while it’s not perfect, there’s certainly something here that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics can build on.

It doesn’t quite stick the superhero landing, but it sure as hell didn’t crash and burn.

Gaming

We’re getting a Star Wars game from Ubisoft

It’s a story-driven open-world adventure

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Star Wars Ubisoft
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

May The Force be with Ubisoft! The company just announced that it is collaborating with Lucasfilm Games on a new story-driven open-world video game set in the beloved Star Wars galaxy.

The game will be developed using next gen tech including the Snowdrop engine. There aren’t any specific details yet as to what the game will be about exactly. The companies involved — Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games — have expressed excitement over the project.

“The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.”

“We are inspired by the passion and talent of the team at Massive, and together we share a vision for the type of original stories we want to tell with our players in this expansive galaxy. They have the creativity, experience, and community understanding to bring awe-inspiring authenticity, depth and innovation to this new Star Wars game,” said Douglas Reilly, VP, Lucasfilm Games.

More information about the game and the release date will be shared at a later stage.

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Gaming

CD Projekt Red publicly apologizes for Cyberpunk 2077

Promises fixes for 2021

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Though it was one of the most hyped video games in recent history, Cyberpunk 2077 became the most polarizing game of 2020. Especially on older consoles and lower-end PCs, the game suffered endless bugs — some of which were game-breaking. So far, CD Projekt Red, the game’s developers, released three hotfixes to fix the most outstanding bugs. Now, Marcin Iwiński, CD Projekt Red’s founder released an apology video for Cyberpunk 2077.

In the video, Iwiński personally accepted all responsibility for the fumbled launch. The launch unsurprisingly didn’t meet the developer’s expectations. Game stores like Sony and Xbox have offered full refunds for dissatisfied customers. According to the founder, CD Projekt Red focused too much on high-end PCs, causing errors to go undetected on other consoles.

As such, besides the apology video, CD Projekt Red released a timeline for upcoming updates. Later this year, the game will get two definitive patches — 1.1 and 1.2 — for major improvements and fixes. After which, the developer will keep outing “multiple updates and improvements” including free DLCs and a free next-gen console update.

Though the game is already out on Xbox Series S/X, the PlayStation 5 is still expecting to get Cyberpunk 2077 sometime this year.

SEE ALSO: Cyberpunk 2077 PC review: Looks can be deceiving

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CES 2021

New Legion laptops, accessories announced at CES 2021

Plenty of gaming goodies to look forward to!

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Legion

Lenovo Legion is going all out for gamers at CES 2021. They’re coming out with the latest in AMD and NVIDIA processors, high-resolution 16-inch displays, AI-driven frame rates and exciting upgrades.

Lenovo Legion 7

The Lenovo Legion 7 sports the latest mobile processors for PC gamers — up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs.

It comes with the new 16-inch 165Hz IPS display with 16:10 aspect ratio, 2560 x 1600 resolution, NVIDIA G-SYNC, 100 percent sRGB color accuracy, 90% screen-to-body ratio, 11% more screen estate (vs conventional 15.6-inch screens), and Dolby Vision.

The Lenovo Legion AI Engine optimizes system performance via machine learning to deliver the highest possible framerates whether your game is CPU or GPU-intensive. For 16 of the most popular triple-A gaming titles, the Lenovo AI Engine will run them at finely-tuned settings for maximum frame rates.

Legion TrueStrike Keyboard

The Legion TrueStrike Keyboard features innovative soft-landing switches that deliver deeper strokes with equal force on every strike. This enables you to strike enemies with extreme precision, hair-trigger speeds and satisfying keystrokes.

The full-sized keyboard with number pad is also illuminated in over 16 million colors via Corsair iCUE support with a glass trackpad that is 23% larger than previous generations. You can easily launch the Lenovo Vantage software with the dedicated Super Key to custom-calibrate your system.

The Coldfront 3.0 thermal management system packs an intelligent intake system that features turbo-charged dual-fans and quad-channel exhausts with vapor chamber technology.

Nahimic Audio drastically improves your gaming experience with its immersive 3D audio. Experience crystal-clear communication with teammates with background noise suppression. If you have additional Bluetooth speakers, you can connect them to your Legion laptop to create a surround sound field.

For privacy, the Legion 7 offers a 720p integrated webcam with E-shutter which allows you to cut off power to the webcam and prevent camera hacking with the switch located on the side of the laptop.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7

The Legion Slim 7 is the successor to the world’s lightest 15-inch gaming laptop with NVIDIA RTX graphics released in 2020, and now comes with AMD’s latest processors.

At under 1.9kg, this ultra-svelte beauty is a perfect fit for any boardroom or tournament setting with unbridled performance under its magnesium cum aluminum chassis in the Shadow Black hue.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 with Max-Q Design GPUs. Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro

The Legion 5 Pro offers the same 16-inch 16:10 QHD display as the Legion 7 and is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs.

Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5

The Legion 5 brings the balance of style and savage power to gamers in 15” or 17” sizes. It will also be available in two hues — Phantom Blue or Stingray White.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs. Its top features include: rueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC

Every Lenovo Legion gaming laptop comes with a complimentary one-month Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC, unlocking hundreds of great games for non-stop gaming. Play over 100 high-quality PC games for one low monthly price with XBOX Game Pass.

Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station and H600 Wireless Gaming Headset

The new Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station has an always-on charging capability that solves multiple power problems at once.

It features hang-to-charge technology for the new Lenovo Legion H600 Wireless Gaming Headset and a Qi-enabled base that charges compatible smartphones (up to 10W output) and other supported devices such as wireless gaming mice.

The station’s modern-looking stand is lightweight at just 919 grams and features two USB-A pass-through ports on the bottom for high-speed connectivity and device charging.

Available from Q1 2021

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