Avengers, Unite!…I guess.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from Marvel Heroes, but I’m glad to say that it surpassed whatever expectations I may have had. Arriving on the seemingly never-ending Marvel hype train surrounding the stellar movies, Marvel Heroes takes you and drops you in the middle of the Marvel universe playing as mostly B-list superheroes unless you’re willing to drop cash on some of the more notable folks. Marvel Heroes separates itself from the pack of superhero games by joining the action RPG genre, giving it a fresh perspective by being a genuine un-instanced MMO.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest superhero fan. Something about them has just never really caught on with me, but Marvel Heroes has that comic book charm to it. If I was more into the subject matter I’d probably love it, mostly supported by the fact that the quest chains are divided up with neat little comic book-styled cutscenes that make the story easier to digest than going blind reading quest log entry after quest log entry.
Superheroes Don’t Need Hand-holding
Marvel Heroes is surprisingly unforgiving. Recent games (especially MMOs) usually start off with simple one-on-one one-button boring combat. Marvel Heroes, however, has you dodging projectiles right off the bat as well as pitting you against surprisingly challenging boss fights with second-rate Marvel villains like Shocker and Taskmaster. I’ll go ahead and pretend I know who those are for false nerd-cred.
Sleek, Modern, and Shiny
The game looks pretty good. Moving quickly gives you a nice motion-blur effect without being disorienting and the explosions look particularly flashy, especially with the graphical settings set to ultra. Even with that, Marvel Heroes isn’t a demanding game; lower settings should run at a playable frame rate on most budget PCs and maybe even a netbook or two if they aren’t too ancient.
Very Problematic Hitching
Unfortunately, the game’s performance isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I’m not sure exactly what was causing this, be it drivers, latency, or just plain issues with the game’s optimization, but there’s a pretty severe lockup problem that occurs anywhere from every five minutes to every hour or so. The lockups are anything from almost instantaneous to death-causing 3-second game freezes. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that it could turn out to be a major problem for a game that seems to be taking pride in difficulty.
Razer Can’t Save This
Part of MMO gaming to a lot of people is just how creative they can get with keybindings. Some, myself included, go as far as buying gaming mice with ludicrous amounts of buttons all over them. This proved to be an issue with me when I was doing my usual MMO option run-through and found out that Marvel Heroes actually blocks you from binding anything past your left and right mouse button and your scroll wheel, rendering those hundred-dollar gaming mice pretty useless.
Missed Creative Potential
I was pretty disappointed when I started up the game to find out that Gazillion had done away with the usual superhero MMO fare of complex and silly hero customization and instead tasks you with picking one of four “free” heroes when you first start off. These characters are EVERYWHERE and it sort of takes you out of the experience when you’re running a dungeon with five Hawkeye clones all spouting sarcastic remarks about shooting things with a bow.
Should you play Marvel Heroes? Well, it’s free; that’s a pretty easy way to tell if you’re diggin’ the game. I would suggest you give it a go if you’re maybe disappointed in Diablo 3‘s lack of end-game and if Torchlight and Path of Exile didn’t quite tickle your fancy. At this point, it’s got a lot of potential and it’s more of a waiting game to see if Gazillion can patch and support the game to the point where it’ll make a considerable splash in the action RPG genre. Marvel Heroes is a flawed but fun action RPG MMO and I’m sure I’ll be playing it off and on in the future to see if the end-game is really sustainable.