The Ninjabot

Massively Marvelous: Gazillion’s “Marvel Heroes”

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 4:25 am by Tyler Waterman

If there is one thing that’s consistent about superhero-related video games, it’s that there is no consistency when it comes to quality. Some are clearly rushed, designed to launch at the same time as a new movie or cartoon regardless of whether the game is actually finished (see: any Iron Man game). Some are independent of tie-ins and receive AAA treatment, like the titles in the Batman: Arkham series. Others are quality titles, but their lack of familiar characters make it difficult to stay afloat, like City of Heroes. While you know a superhero title is going to give you capes and powers, it’s very difficult to know going in whether you’re actually going to enjoy the time you spend with the game.

So let me assure you, dear reader, that when you approach Gazillion’s Marvel Heroes, you can leave your trepidation at the door. There are some superhero titles that leave you with nothing but a bad taste in your mouth; Marvel Heroes will simply leave you wanting more.


You know you want to smash these Sentinels!

If you aren’t familiar with it, the game is essentially a combination of the two most popular PC game formats, MMOs and dungeon crawlers. At its core, the gameplay is no different than popular click-for-loot RPGs like Diablo or Torchlight; if you’ve spent any time playing any game of that mold, you already know how to play Marvel Heroes. That time-tested system is then combined with an MMO environment. As you point and click your way through familiar Marvel settings like The Raft or the Savage Land, you’ll encounter other players doing the same, and that aspect of the game is frankly spectacular. There’s a real comic geek joy to be felt every time you’re battling a massive mob of enemies, only to see Thor swoop in help, or Cap’s shield come out of nowhere to clear the frey. It particularly comes to light when the team-up makes comic book sense; the first time my Cyclops found himself fighting back-to-back with someone playing as Jean Grey, my heart skipped enough beats that I may have been clinically dead.

The best superhero games are those that give you dozens of characters to play with, and Marvel Heroes clearly understands this. The roster is huge, and filled with characters you’d actually want to play with. The five free starters include Daredevil, Thing, Storm, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, providing a number of different play styles and popular faces right from the start. On top of those, other characters can be unlocked for either money or by playing the game, ranging from uber-popular characters like Deadpool and Spider-Man to less-recognizable fan favorites like Rocket Raccoon or Squirrel Girl. But the best part about the roster isn’t just the size; each character offers a genuinely different playing experience. Between beta and early access I’ve had a chance to play over a dozen different characters, and I can tell you that no two feel the same, a particularly impressive feat in a game genre that primarily involves repeatedly pressing one button. Every character has three unique power trees that you can level as you see fit, and this keeps gameplay fresh. Wolverine and Colossus may both be close-range melee fighters, for instance, but thanks to the thought put into their unique powers, the two feel nothing alike, even though they’re essentially the same class.

The game also has an elaborate story, including a prequel motion comic, all written by superscribe Brian Michael Bendis

The game also has an elaborate story, including a prequel motion comic, all written by superscribe Brian Michael Bendis.

Another aspect of this game that really helps it shine is the attention to detail that’s been put into this title. I mentioned before that many superhero games suffer from what is clearly a rushed production time; this is not one of those. It’s clear that a great deal of time and effort was put into every facet of this game. The primary and alternate costumes for each character are perfect to the last detail, and many of the alternates are costumes you were sure no one remembered but you. Levels feature tons of destructible pieces, and each reacts differently; for instance, when you blow up a vending machine, cans of soda fall out. The levels are also filled with cool scripted moments, like watching Eddie Brock free the Venom symbiote and transform as you try to stop villains from escaping The Raft. Even the sound design is fantastic. The music is perfect for this style of game, catchy but not overpowering, and the sound effects are exactly what you’ve always heard in your head as you read the comics these characters come from. The first time I heard the “snikt” of Wolverine’s claws, the player using Logan was actually off screen, yet I still knew instantly what that sound had to be.

I’ve been ranting so long about how great this game is that I’m sure you’re waiting for me to drop the hammer on what I don’t like, and that’s the very best part; there isn’t anything. Seriously, before I started this paragraph, I sat here staring at my keyboard trying to come up with a flaw to draw attention to, and frankly I just can’t find it. The only thing even close to a complaint that I could come up with has to do with the large-scale fights that take place on the larger maps. During these missions, villains like Electro or Venom appear and are powerful enough that it takes the efforts of at least a dozen players to take them down. These battles are epic and tons of fun, but it can often get so crowded that it’s hard to target the villain simply because he’s lost in the crowd. And that’s it. That’s the biggest complaint I can find, that a thing that is already awesome could be slightly more awesome. If that’s the worst I can come up with, clearly this game is doing pretty much everything right. Unless you simply can not enjoy dungeon crawlers as a genre, I can’t imagine any fan of the Marvel Universe not falling in love with this game.


Believe me, it’s going to take a LOT more than these three to put Venom down.

If you’ve been hesitant to get excited for this game, or weren’t sure if it would be worth trying out, I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you won’t regret giving Marvel Heroes a shot. Best of all, it’s free to play, so you literally have nothing to lose. Marvel Heroes is clearly a game made by folks who love all things Marvel, and who wanted to make the very best Marvel gaming experience they could for the rest of us who feel the same. Having spent hours playing their game, I can tell you they’ve absolutely accomplished that goal, and they’ve made it clear that they’re just getting started. If you’re a Marvel fan, jump on now and come along for the ride; Marvel Heroes is everything you want it to be, and within moments you’ll be just as hooked as I am.

    • No Mac version… Fail.

      • Now that the game is released they confirmed the first thing they’d be working on next is a Mac version, so your day will come.

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